Join the Team

Have you always wanted to volunteer internationally, but don’t know where to start? Do you have a specific skillset that you think would be beneficial to our organization? Or do you just have a passion for helping empower those less fortunate? Whatever the reason…we want YOU!

Join the CWA team.png

Our projects are growing, and we need passionate, hardworking, and service driven individuals looking to make a difference in the world. Our current open positions include:

  • Deputy Director: Responsible for assisting Executive Director in daily operations and recruitment and management of Project Managers. (Trust us- he is a really awesome guy).

  • Staff Member: The Jack or Jane of all trades! Staff members assist in fundraising, outreach, communication, interns, and overall coordination of the travel itinerary on the annual service trip to Kenya.

  • Fashion Incubator Sustainability Project (FISP) Manager: FISP is a collaboration between CWA and the YMCA of Kibera, one of Nairobi's largest slums. The FISP Project Manager will continue to develop a fashion entrepreneurship curriculum within the YMCA central's school, fundraise, and serve as a liason between CWA and on the ground contacts.

  • Building Blocks Project Manager: We are currently building a school in a rural village in Masago (outside of Kisumu) and we need a Project Manager to coordinate with our team in Kenya, fundraise, and help implement this ambitious and life changing project. Experience with NGOs, construction, and engineering a definite plus.

  • Marine Corp Marathon (MCM) Project Coordinator: CWA is sponsoring a group of runners, known as The HERD, in the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon. 100% of funds raised by these runners go to our core projects. Given the success of this years mission, we want to do the same for next year and we need someone to help coordinate entry, communication, logistics, and more for next year’s event.

If you are interested, please send an email to Kevin@crossworldafrica.org with the position title in the subject line and a short cover letter explaining your interests and qualifications, as well as a one page resume.

ASANTE.

2019 Interns Report

2019 Interns Report

As part of our partnership with KENSAP, an organization that places top Kenyan scholars at universities in the United States, we offer the opportunity to have these Kenyan students compete for placement in our internship program. This year, we were blessed to have two amazing interns join the Cross World Africa team on our 2019 mission trip. Please allow us to introduce Phoebe, a student at Brown University, and Collins, a student at Colby College.

A RECORD BREAKING DAY IN NANDI

DSC_0262.JPG

Cross World Africa reached a new milestone this year, delivering 50 cows to women and families all across Kenya’s rural western provinces. This marked the largest among of livestock given out through CWA’s Cow and Goat Project since it began in 2008. While milestone is truly extraordinary, even more incredible is the fact that half of these cows were delivered to a single village!

The village that helped CWA reach this new record of gift giving is located in Nandi County, a few hours drive from Kapsabet. Surrounded by steep hillsides checkered in the verdant greens of tea farms and corn fields, the beauty of the place nearly overwhelmed the fact that its inhabitants were in desperate need of aid.

Cross World Africa local project leader Benedette Tiony selected this village specifically because it had been overlooked by the county government. Government aid for education and infrastructure had not found its way to the villages valley in years, and its aging population was growing increasingly desperate for assistance.

The bleak outlook of the community was quickly shattered once Benedette brought the CWA cow and goat project to their village. Working with the village’s elders, 25 women were selected to receive a cow. The cows represent wealth and status in rural Kenya, but also become a vital part of the local economy. The women can use the cows milk to sustain themselves and their families, and can sell the surplus milk to earn income for school fees and medical expenses. Cross World Africa also encourages recipients of the cow and goat project to “pay their gift forward” by giving the first born calf of the cow to another family that’s in need within the community.

As might be expected, the community was ecstatic to hear the news that CWA was coming to their village. The village’s elders called the entire community together, and Benedette helped them rent and install tents and chairs for the community to sit on during the ceremony.

As the livestock was brought to the ceremony, dancing and songs erupted from the crowds. The women dressed in traditional garbs and led the procession of the livestock, swaying and singing hymns to bless the event.

The women who received the cows varied in age, but all of them were overcome with emotion after being handed the leash to an animal that was certain to change their life.

The cow ceremony in Nandi was special this year, not only because of the quantity of livestock given away (a testament to the generosity of our donors), but because many of these cows were donated by local Kenyans! Two local businessmen decided to provide four cows for their community, and even attending the ceremony to witness the project.

Another local donor was none other than Former World Champion Lornah Kiplagat. Lornah was a professional long distance runner who ran for both Kenya and the Netherlands. She once held the world record for the half marathon, and was a multiple gold medalist in world road races. Upon hearing about CWA’s upcoming cow and goat project, Lornah was moved to donate another cow for the ceremony.

Cross World Africa has always strived to build up the local capacity of communities in Kenya. It is our firm belief that as local leaders rise up and empower their respective communities, inequality in Kenya will begin to fall. Seeing the Nandi village ceremony organized by Benedette and the cows donated by local individuals is a testament this aim becoming realized.

Thanks to all of our donors across the globe who helped make hope a reality in this small village seated atop the Nandi Hills!

MAKING HOPE A REALITY IN MASAGO

When Cross World Africa was founded 11 years ago, its area of focus was the small town of Iten. This village, seated atop the Rift Valley escarpment, provided a launching point for CWA’s mission to end inequality throughout Kenya.

DSC_0033.JPG

In the beginning, the measured impact of this mission was small, but over time, local community leaders began connecting with CWA to bring our mission to the homes of their neighbors and loved ones. Soon, cow ceremonies were taking place not just in Iten, but all over Elgeyo-Marakwet County. Schools as far as Nairobi began partnering with CWA in order to bring scholarships to students living in urban communities, as well as rural ones. As the word spread, CWA was introduced to new communities with inspiring leaders who introduced our teams and donors to unique problems they were hoping to solve. This year, CWA was thrilled to partner with the Golden Girls Foundation and bring our mission of hope to the village of Masago.

The Golden Girls Foundation is a local non-profit that performs development work outside of Kisumu, a city in southwest Kenya. Led by Golda and Ben Ayoda, the Golden Girls foundation was introduced to CWA through our Ruby in the Rift Menstrual Hygiene Management project in 2017. Golda and CWA Communications Director Alyssa O’Connor worked in tandem for months, organizing numerous workshops and donating over 1,000 Ruby Cups! Not only did this dynamic duo empower countless young girls during the Ruby in the Rift campaign, but they also forged a friendship that promised continued cooperation in the future.

That promise was fulfilled this past month during CWA’s 2019 campaign. After months of deliberation between CWA president Eric Garvin and Founder Kevin Thompson, Golda and Ben helped organize and extend three CWA projects to their hometown of Masago, a small village situated in the western low-lands near Lake Victoria. These projects included the Cow and Goat Livestock project, the Ruby in the Rift MHM project, and the brand new Building Blocks classroom development project. It marked a monumental day in CWA history, and the first time our mission reached the outskirts of Kisumu. This blog takes a first person look into the budding partnership of GGF and CWA, and the communities response to the projects being completed in their home:

It was still dark in Iten when the 2019 CWA field team gathered into vans and embarked on their 5 hour trek to Masago. It took hundreds of miles (and speed bumps) before the high rolling hills of the escarpment gave way to the hot, lush lowlands of Southwest Kenya. As the vans descended towards Lake Victoria, it was quickly apparent that poverty had an even firmer grip on these villages than compared to their northern neighbors. Infrastructure was minimal, and the homesteads looked to be built hastily with rusted tin and concrete. It was certainly an area in desperate need of some hope.

The washed out dirt roads eventually led our team onto the main street of Masago. Small, single story storefronts that had been haphazardly painted lined either side of the road. Rotting wooden stands stood empty along the dirt walkways. Separating these shopping areas from the street were wide retention ditches, filled with mud and trash. Taken together, Masago’s Main Street stood as a symbol of the development challenges facing the town. 

This image of poverty quickly melted into one of opportunity once the vans had stopped and the team was greeted by the Golden Girls Foundation. Ben and Golda were flanked by dozens of volunteers who offered each team member a tee-shirt embroidered with the logos of both of our foundations. After a brief meeting going over the events for the day, our group was led down the road to the gates of the Golden Girls Foundation’s Primary School. The excitement in the air was palpable, and the town soon started to take notice. 

Heavy rains made the journey to the school slow-going, but neither the mud nor the mosquitoes could dampen the spirits of our teams. Local community members joined us on the march, singing songs and holding hands in a sign of solidarity to making hope a reality in Masago. 

Walking through the school’s gates, our team was given a tour around the grounds. The small classrooms were clean and well kept, but fell short of providing the space needed for the growing institution. The Golden Girls Foundation primary school educates dozens of children each year, ages kindergarten to eighth grade, who would not be able to find a high quality education elsewhere in these impoverished lowlands. Not only do the GG Foundation ensure that these children receive an exceptional education, but they also instill a sense of sustainability in their graduates and their families. The school actively encourages their students to garden, raise poultry and eventually, livestock. The classroom gardens and chicken coups help feed the students throughout the year. It is a model of education CWA admires, and the reason why our team had pledged to help construct new classrooms for the school.

Golda and Ben guided the tour towards a large foundation being laid at the center of the school grounds. Beckoning CWA founder Kevin Thompson and President Eric Garvin to the foundation, Ben asked them to lay the cornerstone, “This building will become the cornerstone of our school, and provide eight new classrooms for our children. This project would not be possible without the generous support of Cross World Africa. Thank you for believing in education and the future of our children.” 

The crowd cheered as Eric and Kevin (clumsily) grouted the wall of the foundation and laid the cornerstone down for the classrooms. These classrooms represented CWA’s building blocks project. Although $3,000 had already been raised through the continued support of CWA’s donors, another $9,000 will be needed to completely finish the two-story, heat resistant structure (a must in a place located at the equator). If you would like to support the building blocks project, please visit our donation page and help us finish this vital facility for Masago! 

DSC_0955.JPG

Once the cheers had subsided, our team was led under a tent to listen to a series of presentations. Community leaders, teachers, and even students shared their stories about the importance of the foundation and the work our organization has pledged to support. 

Once the introductions had ended, a group of young girls representing the 10 best students in Masago, came to sit among our group. The girls had traveled to Masago at the request of The Golden Girls Foundation, and were competing for 3 CWA scholarships that would pay for their secondary school fees. The girls appeared nervous, but after listening to their stories, of how they overcame untold trials to earn top ranks in their class, the CWA team was moved to increase the number of scholarships to six total. The winners of these scholarships will be awarded after the end of their next academic year. The Cross World Africa team took turns encouraging the girls with their own stories of the importance of education, and how it is truly a means to end poverty and inequality in their lives. 

After the scholarship event had concluded, our team packed up and were led out towards the Main Street once more. The next event was the cow and goat ceremony, and the excitement surrounding the event reached such a fever pitch that our stroll transformed into a parade. 

The cows, goats and sheep being given away that afternoon were being driven by our collective teams, while the community joined in singing songs and dancing ahead of the procession. It was an incredible moment, one that underscored the importance livestock plays in these rural communities. 

The parade of singers, dancers, and bovine finally ended upon reaching the village common ground, where all the participants crowded under a white tent onto plastic chairs and awaited the start of the ceremony. 

Ben and Golda were the MC’s of the day, and they were quick to honor the partnership being forged between CWA and this local community’s Golden Girls Foundation. Against a background of music and an occasional equatorial rain shower, gifts were exchanged between the foundations and the communities.

Aspiring barbers in the community were given razors and Cut Buddies (thanks to our generous sponsor) to continue to perfect their craft. Already, half of the students spotted fresh cuts with fine fades thanks to the new equipment. 

Teachers were presented with computer tablets, and Ben and Golda were given a new laptop to provide more efficiency for their growing work. 

Women from the community were then chosen to receive a new cow or goat from CWA. The golden girls foundation ensured that these women were among the most needy in the community. This gift of livestock would fundamentally change their lives and the lives of their children. 

The day ended with a heavy rainstorm, but even that failed to extinguish the joy shared by everyone attending the event. Two foundations, operating an ocean apart, had found a way to bring development projects to a remote village in the western Kenyan lowlands. The efforts of Ben and Golda, local leaders with a passion to help their communities, had identified the needs for educational facilities, scholarships, trade skills, and economic empowerment projects throughout their town. This focused identification allowed CWA to rally its unbelievable network of donors to make these projects, and they hope that they bring, a reality to Masago. 

Looking ahead, it is our hope that more development opportunities present themselves to the CWA community, for we are certain that the local leadership of our partners and the generosity of our donors is more than enough to meet that challenges. 

Making an impact at the Mindililwo Primary School

Driving through the small town of Iten, nestled atop Kenya's Great Rift Valley escarpment, the Cross World Africa team turned onto a dirt road that led to the gates of Mindililwo Primary school. The painted concrete gates proudly display the school's name and motto, and are surrounded by lush greenery and overhanging acacia trees. This beauty however, is juxtaposed against the stark poverty surrounding the school's grounds. Corrugated tin roofs, rusted from rainfall and the harsh equatorial sun, are hurdled throughout the country side. This village, being closer to city limits, is constrained and unable to produce the crops necessary to support their families. Raising money for school fees becomes are burden many families cannot bear. The result is a school that fails to produce students who perform well on national exams and tests, and therefore receives less aid from the county and the nation. Mindililwo represents the inequality CWA is committed to overcoming.

DSC_0870.JPG

The 2019 CWA campaign selected this school as part of its continued effort to overcome the inequalities afflicting children living throughout the rural regions of western Kenya. The selection process was led by CWA local project leader Robert Kiptoo, who targeted this school specifically because of its dire needs for new facilities and scholarships for the students. Robert has worked with CWA since 2008, and has been instrumental is identifying educational shortfalls throughout Iten. Driving through the gates, it was easy to see that Robert's efforts to bring CWA to Mindililwo were not lost on the community.

The gates receded to reveal what looked like a parade leading into the center of the school. Hundreds of students waved and shouted excitedly as the van pulled up to them. As our team exited the vehicles, we were greeted by village leaders and their parents, who were effusive with praise for the work CWA was doing for their children and their community's school.

Amidst shouts and songs, Robert led the CWA team and Mindililwo teachers into a nearby classroom where he explained some of the improvements made because of CWA's generous donors and staff.

"This room was empty before CWA came to our school. Now, as you can see behind me, we have a new library, full of books, that will help our students read and succeed in the coming year." Robert went on to explain how CWA's support helped the school raise the funds for a new soccer field, complete with goal posts. Once again, the parents broke out into applause, a joy that was only matched by the students eagerly waiting to play with the soccer balls tucked beneath the arms of the CWA team members.

Leaving the library, the village elders led our team to the center of the school grounds to take part in a ceremony commemorating the day. In their hands were young saplings that they desired to plant in a circle. Team members, Mindililwo teachers, and students worked together to plant the trees as a symbol of the growing relationship CWA and this community had begun.

Following the ceremony, Robert ushered the students and parents towards a set of benches arranged as part of the afternoon assembly. The CWA team had asked Robert to organize the event in order to hand out scholarships to the top eight female and top eight male students attending the school. Each student was presented with a certificate commemorating their achievement and a new backpack for the upcoming semester. These scholarships not only give the students a goal to strive for, but alleviate the pressure of affording school fees that many of Kenya's brightest students struggle against.

After presenting the scholarships, our team then thanked the teachers with gifts from our donors, giving each a new computer tablet in hopes to signify our appreciation for their work. The games teachers were also presented with new uniforms for their athletic teams. The school's athletes were called to the front of the assembly and asked to put on the new kits, which they followed up with a loud cheer for Mindililwo! CWA team members then handed out soccer balls to the captains of the school's team. The look on their faces were priceless, and it was easy to see how eager they were to test out their new equipment on their new soccer field.

But before the games could begin, CWA president Eric Garvin called Robert Kiptoo up to the podium. Eric announced to the audience the importance Robert played in making this day, and the numerous projects, possible. Handing the mic off to CWA assistant director Andy Arnold, the praise for Robert continued, "Robert, you have been a friend of Cross World Africa for over a decade. You are a leader in your community, and your work has helped improve the lives of these children, their parents, and your community. Today, we would like to make you a formal member of the CWA family."

Andy handed Robert a CWA polo shirt as a symbol of him becoming part of the team. The village elders and students erupted into applause, and once again the music and dancing broke out among the Mindililwo community.

The day was a reminder of how important relationships are to community building and development. Cross World Africa's work would not be possible without the dedication and vision of local community leaders like Robert Kiptoo. These local leaders guide Cross World Africa, and ensure that our projects reach the people that need them most. It is a relationship that spans an ocean and two continents, and one that continues to make hope a reality.

Tails of Tambach

The courtyard of the rural primary school Moi Tambach Primary School; just one of three villages that are participating in livestock donations this week.

The courtyard of the rural primary school Moi Tambach Primary School; just one of three villages that are participating in livestock donations this week.

Set on the edge of the Hanging escarpment is Moi Tambach Primary School. Beneath the shade of a tent, members of the community, area chiefs, livestock beneficiaries, and students gather for today’s special ceremony. As Eric Garvin, CWA Board president took center stage, the crowd went silent. He paused at the end of each statement, as Cross World Africa’s intentions echoed across the rift.  Members of the crowd listened as if in a congregation, and would yell out a unanimous "yes" and "amen".

Jambo, Jambo, Jambo...Cross World Africa is Here!
We are here to bring Hope, where there is little Hope
We are here to bring Equality, where there is Inequality
Above all, we are here to empower the powerless

Cross World Africa’s Cow and Goat Project is the embodiment of these words. Started 10 years ago as a woman empowerment project, CWA livestock donations continue to grow.  This year we are on track to more than double last year’s record of 23 cows. For those unfamiliar with this gender equity initiative, CWA specifically works with impoverished, needy, and widowed women. Our beneficiaries are first nominated by their community and then selected by the village elders. The true magic of this project is not in just the gift of the cow, but also in the gift of her first calf. All that we ask in the acceptance of the cow is that when she gives birth, the calf will go on to another woman in need. It’s a pay-it-forward model that promises to lift up the community as a whole.

Anna Garvin, CWA volunteer, participates in a cow blessing as a woman receives the gift of her lifetime.

Anna Garvin, CWA volunteer, participates in a cow blessing as a woman receives the gift of her lifetime.

The joy shared by the Tambach community that day is difficult to capture with either photographs or words. Women without hope were suddenly provided a means to support their family and bring honor to their household. A single cow can forever change a life in Kenya, and CWA’s local leaders, volunteers and donors helped provide 14 that day atop the Rift Valley. It was nothing short of a miracle, and was only made possible through the tireless work of local community leaders being partnered with donors who love and support the Cross World Africa mission.

KenSAP Panel

KenSAP Panel

The Kenya Scholar-Athlete Project (KenSAP) is a program that chooses a dozen high-achieving and gifted Kenyan high school students from low socio-economic backgrounds and assists them in gaining admission to the most selective and prestigious North American universities. For the past 5 years, CWA has partnered with KenSAP by organizing and sponsoring a round-table discussion to offer support, advice, and community for Kenyan students heading to North America for their studies.

The Other Side of the Tracks

The Cross World Africa team unites in Nairobi and kicks off its first day in Kenya at the YMCA in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. Since 2015, CWA has offered scholarships and food bank donations to the students of the YMCA. This year, the team increased that support and also brought a special gift to these incredible children growing up in one of the world’s toughest places.

What Can You Buy with $50?

What Can You Buy with $50?

There’s a lot you can buy with $50.

A new sweater. That gym membership you’ve been putting off. Dinner with a friend. Those odd but useful items in your Amazon cart. A nice bottle of wine. A ski lift ticket. Maybe even two of those super stylin’ double wall insulated water bottles so your water stays ice cold in your hot yoga class.

What if I told you there’s a way to get even more out of that same $50?

Building Blocks

Building Blocks

Ruby in the Rift Project Manager Alyssa O’Connor takes over the Cross World Africa blog! While she was in the field leading reproductive health workshops and distributing menstrual cups with Ruby Cup, she met an amazing Kenyan woman leading the local empowerment charge: Golda Ayodo. While visiting her foundation located in a small village outside of Kisumu, Alyssa couldn’t help but bring one more project to Cross World Africa’s plate.

Air Force Honors Eric Garvin

Air Force Honors Eric Garvin

Cross World Africa Board President Eric Garvin was recently honored by the US Air Force Academy for his service and work in East Africa. Eric’s time serving his country instilled in him a desire to keep serving humanity, and he has helped carry the CWA mission to new heights since taking over the board. Please check out the links below to read the story and video published by the US Air Force.