The Bunnies are SOLD OUT!

Happy New Year from all of us at Hope Ignited! May your new year be abundantly blessed!

The bunnies are SOLD OUT (Yaay!) but there are still ways you can help in the new year.

Monthly support: I'm looking for 100 people to donate $20 a month or 20 people to donate $100 a month.
Laptops and educational software: I need a laptop with a good battery and software we can use for literacy programs.
Knitting tools and wool: Needles, scissors, hooks, large plastic sewing needles etc. Anything you use to knit with.
Be an Intern! Start saving the world. I'm looking for a volunteer to help me with fundraising and managing Hope Ignited.

If you would like to contribute any of the above please go to the DONATE page or contact me.

Have a wonderful day! Click the picture for a video of the ladies graduating from last year's English classes.


I'm getting excited at what the next step will be for the project in the new year. Here's how you can help Hope Ignited continue in 2014.

Ongoing costs: 
The minimum running costs for the project in Zambia is approximately $2000 per month. This covers my expenses, fuel to get back and forth, visa costs etc.

I'm looking for 100 people to make a $20 monthly donation, or 20 people to make a $100 monthly donation.

Now, doesn't that sound manageable?

Items to take back to Zambia: 
I'm looking for the following items to take back with me. You can also donate an extra suitcase if you like ($200). I would like to bring back:

  • Knitting needles and knitting tools (thin needles are better. We also need plastic sewing needles, measuring tapes, scissors etc)
  • Wool
  • A laptop--must have a good, working battery.
  • Educational software (English, math, basics)

Please contact me if you have any questions about the above. Donations can be made on the "Donate" page.  Let's give some more people hope for their futures.

Wascaly wabbits

These little wabbits are ready for a new home. They've got their swagger on and are looking forward to going home with you.

Simple deets:
Each rabbit is $5. Give a donation of $20 or more and you get one "free". (Please let me know if you make a donation).
Colours are limited! If one grabs your heart, please let me know and I will put it aside for you.
Machine washable, delicate, cold water, fluff dry. All rabbits are prewashed.

Need more? Detailed deets:
Buying a rabbit does a good thing. Women who participated in the knitting program this year got 4 kwatcha (almost $1) per rabbit. They also got a ball of wool or more supplies for each rabbit.
hmmm...doesn't sound like much? It is! The minimum wage in Zambia is about $100. Most people don't make minimum wage especially villagers like our ladies. I would say their average income is about $50 a month.   Some of our top producing women made as many as 25-30 bunnies a month, that means about $24 month--that's an income boost of almost 50%. Awesome! Bunnies are sold in local shops to promote ongoing sales, and other bunnies get to find new homes with you.

Next steps:
I'm currently fundraising for next year. Funds go towards expanding the program and keeping it running. To be honest, the biggest cost is the program's founder--me--but also to be honest, it only runs with me there :)
I am also gathering wool, needles and knitting tools to take back to me. This year we had a real problem letting new people into the program because we just couldn't get needles--some ladies actually used bicycle spokes! Please contact me if you have items to contribute. I am limited to how much I can carry back because of luggage restrictions--you can also donate towards extra luggage to help me carry back more.

Plans for next year include expanding the knitting and literacy program. We started with 5 ladies in the knitting program in the first year. This year, we had 9 ladies attending literacy and knitting. Next year, I would like to see that number double again. Remember, supporting one woman helps her empower her whole family, helps her get her children to school and food on the table.

Bless you.

Winding Down, Windy Days, and Used Bicycle Spokes

Winding Down
 I have less than a month left now before I head home for holidays...Christmas holidays that is. I'm sure most of us are not in that mind frame yet, but, wow, this year has gone fast.

As the programs come to an end for the year, I am pondering on what the new year might look like. With the hope of having a more sustainable means of keeping myself here, I am planning to start a business in Zambia. We are just in the planning stage, but we hope to bring online education and business solutions to Zambian clients. Stay posted on more about that in the coming months.

It will provide a way that I can work for money while I'm in Zambia, and still support community projects.

Windy Days
In Mwenge B, the community centre I use to teach English and knitting was struck by a windstorm. Half of the roof has been lifted off. It's quite sad as it was a really nice little building. It used to be a community school but when the founder died (a local man), no one was left to care for it. I would love to continue to use this place and if you are interested, please consider donating to help restore it. We only have weeks before the rains starts (and I leave) and that will mean serious destruction so there is just a short time left. Click Donate. (If you want to donate specifically to this cause, please email me with a heads up. )

Used Bicycle Spokes
I'm filling my suitcases with bunnies to help raise money for Hope Ignited projects--so get ready and think of all the babies you know or kids who would love one in their Christmas stocking. The are very colourful and cute.

We've also had a real challenge getting thin needles here (for our thin wool). A few of the women have opted to use bicycle spokes as a replacement! Can you imagine that! Well, it works I guess, but I'm sure they would love your old needles. Here's a picture just so you believe me haha. Recycling in action!

So when I'm back home, I will also be collecting knitting needles, crochet needles, general knitting supplies (especially those plastic needles for closing seams) and wool to bring back to Zambia with me. Our wool choices here are very limited and of a somewhat low quality, so it's great when the ladies get some of the special stuff from Canada and can sell if for a bit more.

A little more...
Making things work in Zambia has certainly had it's challenges over the last few years, but I have been encouraged by the connections I've kept since I started here. We were laughing during out meeting today because one of the ladies, Hilda, who hardly ever speaks English (although she understands about 70%) was just chatting away. I couldn't believe it and she didn't even realize it until I pointed it out. It was awesome to see how far she had come.

Another lady, Neka, came into our meeting so sad and down. She didn't seem to want to talk about it. Randomly, today, I happened to share a small testimony about some personal struggles and what God had been teaching me. Whatever it was, it seemed to apply to her too as I watched her face lighten up and she started to smile. By the end of the meeting, she was the one who led us in a song.

Small victories in a big world--we make a difference one person, one moment, one day at a time. If we don't give up, hopefully we will see how we've helped another soul.

See you all very soon. Natasha.

News updates

Bunnies from our knitting group
Check out the Dream Factory Newsletter and the first page article about our women's empowerment group (written by me!). Click the link below.

Below are some pictures from the Mwenge B English classes we've initiated. Attendance has improved and we now have about 11 people total. Mwenge B is next to the old village that I used to work at so some of the women from Kamafwesa are part of this new group. This program is held in a rural bush area.
Beginner English class taught by local Zambian

Advanced English (my class!)

We also host a second literacy and knitting program in town. The compound is call Nkwazi and is close to me.
English class in Nkwazi
Prayer support
Please pray for the following:
Continued good attendance and community involvement in these programs
Financial provision for a vehicle and general expenses
Financial provision and vision to extend these programs to new groups
Personal protection, safety and stability for my stay in Zambia

Thank you for all your kindness, encouraging words and support. Please feel free to drop me a line or say hi anytime.

Note: You may wonder why attendance and involvement is such an issue. It seems that when people have been in poverty a long time, there is a poverty mentality and often a sense of jealousy. A poverty mentality occurs when people become more comfortable about where they are instead of what they could aspire to--something many of us have experienced--so they don't go for the opportunities in front of them. Jealousy is a bit different. Although these programs are open to everyone, those that are stuck in their poverty mentality, don't want to see others change or improve either. Therefore, they discourage other people from moving forward. As a result, the whole community stays poor--either in mind or spirit (just a little insight I thought you might be interested in). This is why I believe real change takes time and is manifested through relationship.


These are the pics of the (super!) drunk driver that came through my garden wall.
The tree that stopped the little car. It went over a ditch outside, through my wall and knocked down the tree.

The rubble that flew at least 50m across the yard.

Miraculously, all the stone stopped right in front of my porch--all in a straight line.

April-May Updates

It's not like me to put this first, but I would like to start with a plea for your support. I desperately need to get a new (reliable!) vehicle. Please consider a donation towards the vehicle and my living costs. You can donate by clicking here. Thanks!

Otherwise...things are moving along here. Look at the bunny production! These bunnies are being made with our new knitting group in Nkwazi, Ndola. We have about 8 ladies that are part of this group. Our first bunch of bunnies will be going back to Denmark with the Dream Factory team. Later in the year, I hope to be bringing these back to Canada for Christmas (order yours now! lol)

Bunny production--also available in pink, purple and dark brown with eyes and noses :)

There are also two literacy classes in the works. The one in Nkwazi has already started and the second will start next week in Mwenge B. Mwenge B is a rural community close to the old village where I used to work. It's great because some of the adults from the old place come and see me and participate.
Nkwazi English class

We offered the knitting and literacy program to the rural village in Mwenge B and it was really interesting that about 80% of the people who came were interested in learning English above knitting (ie education over money). We know, of course, that a good education leads to prosperity... We have conducted interviews and in the process, decided on not one, but two classes. The great part is that there will be a local teacher handling the beginer class. I'm quite excited about this because it creates a local job and inspires people to build up their community from within.

Mwenge B knitting and literacy candidates (and me!)
The original knitting program will also be expanding within Mwenge B. We are excited that this program has done so well and look forward to the new chapter it is about to begin.

I continue to enjoy my time with Dream Factory. I really want to encourage you to think about coming for a visit and a "volunteer". People do all kinds of things when they come--teach swimming, first aid, arts, music, sports or join in with what we already have on the go. Feel free and be inspired by the volunteer page. We accommodate just about any idea--it's your dream! 
Mwenge B football (that's a ball made of plastic bags)

Latest News

I am in the news! Well, a newsletter anyway :) Please take a moment to visit the Dream Factory website and read our newsletter. I am in the process of shifting to this amazing team and working under their projects.

This week, I started with the Buyantanshi Women's Empowerment group. This group of women is already taking advantage of micro loans and education sessions through Dream Factory. Now, along with my colleague Esther, we are teaching them knitting and mat making. The mats are really cool--they can we personalized with your name (eg Welcome to Natasha's) or with lovely pictures.

We are starting the knitting project with simple toys for kids. Here's a sample of a bunny. The ladies are all very excited about both projects.

Before we start these skill building sessions, we have an hour of English class. Our first class focused a lot on "spiting it out". Some people are quite shy but feeling confident is what learning a language is all about. By the end of the class everyone was participating really well.

Dream Factory also hosts other programs such as Adopt-A-Club (football/soccer), computer training and a Volunteer program. It's also working with a couple of community schools to enhance their programs. So, if you've considered coming to Zambia to volunteer (and visit!), please take a moment to read more on the Dream Factory website or newsletter and then get in touch.

I am also looking forward to having our old knitting group come under Dream Factory's wing. We want to continue to see that group of women thrive after all the hard work they put in. 

These programs and others don't just help individuals but help their whole (and sometimes extended) families. Zambia is about community living, so when you help one woman, it supports her children and often children that she has adopted. It is so common to hear that someone has passed away and a sister, cousin or grandmother has taken in the orphaned or abandoned children. The impact of helping one person can be very significant.

Please consider making a donation towards these projects and my time here. While I was in Canada earlier this year, I did not do any fundraising because I was in a time of transition between organizations. Now that I've got a real plan and vision ahead of me, I hope you will consider supporting these new projects. To donate click here.


Changing Seasons

I am sad to announce that my time with the Kamafwesa community has come to an end. Things ended more abruptly than I had hoped but I wish Give Hope International the best as they continue to support that community. With a change of leadership and direction, they have decided that a fresh start is the best thing for their organization.

As this season ends, I continue to keep relationship with the ladies from our knitting group, Misheck and some other members of the community. My hope is that we will at least find a way to keep our knitting group together. We can't always control the outcome of things, but my prayer is that the seeds that were planted during my time there will continue to grow.

I have been quite challenged since I got back to Zambia so I have not had a chance to connect with the village very much. Flu, malaria and a broken car have held me back. But sometimes, these things are all worked together for our good.

So where do I go from here....

Well, the good news is that I am joining a fabulous NGO called Dream Factory. Even the name is exciting! On Monday, I will attend my first staff meeting. Staff meeting!! I've never been so excited by the thought of a staff meeting. You see, I've been on my own out here since I arrived, so being part of a team and finding support through other's experiences is exactly what I need. Plus, I hear there are pancakes afterwards...just need to import some heavenly Canadian maple syrup.

As with Kamafwesa, Dream Factory has a women's empowerment group, uses sports and activities to reach out to community and believes in sharing God's love all the way through. So, I will be starting a new knitting group with the ladies and a literacy class. It's also much closer to home which will help reduce my costs.

Dream Factory is also set up to bring in teams who want to visit, so I hope that some of you, or many of you, might come and experience Zambia some time in the future (don't forget to carry some maple syrup though).

Thank you so much for your continued support. Please pray that this transition would go well, for funding, a working car and blessing upon those in the old community as well as the new one.

If you would like to learn more about Dream Factory, please click here.
If you have inquiries about the Kamafwesa community, please click here to contact Give Hope International.

One of the little munchkins from next door.