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The Ideal Community? Let’s Build Together

Cover Photo: Johnathon Sim Chikanta High School students located in southern Zambia. Abōd Shelters are being used as dormitories because they were lower cost and quicker to build than the traditional cement structures. The students have their own sense of community which is shown through their closeness in sharing with and supporting each other throughout the school year. Photo credit to Michelle Rothfus, Abōd Shelters Project Coordinator.

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

I grew up on a farm quite away from anywhere, so when we did go to town we made sure it was a worthwhile trip. In the meantime, if we needed something we went to the nearest neighbor or did without. This seemed to be normal as other neighbors came to our house for a cup of sugar or flour from time to time or to get help if their cows got out. After I had my own family and moved to a small town, I remember heading next door when I needed just one egg and receiving the strangest look and a comment, “You know the store is just 20 minutes away.” I didn’t return to their house for items in the future.

As we lead our own families we tend to gravitate toward what is familiar or convenient and we’ve grown to have certain expectations on where we choose to live.  By the way, other neighbors we got to know found this item borrowing very normal. As a ‘thank you’ they’d bring back a portion of whatever they made!

When you think of the ‘Ideal Community’, what comes to mind?

Are certain amenities important to you when choosing where to live? For example, good schools, medical clinics nearby, shopping and entertainment in close proximity? What about having open green space or parks, bike trails and access to a community building or shelter for events? Or is it more about being around like-minded individuals that work and support each other?

An impromptu question of “What does community mean to you” from Thornton Place in Seattle, WA resulted in some interesting answers when people on the streets were asked. View their short video here.

Abōd Shelters understands that our communities in which we live are very important because they are essential to our wellbeing. It doesn’t matter where in the world we live, a sense of community matters everywhere. That’s why we have a land plan already developed that not only includes homes but schools, classrooms, technology centers, medical solutions and community buildings to allow for the flexibility of meeting spaces – all in one community. It’s no surprise that Abōd Shelters are highly functional, sustainable, can be built in one day and are customizable.

Abōd Shelters also understands that it’s not just about having a home or physical structure that makes a community so powerful.

Sense of Community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”

McMillan & Chavis (1986)

Read more about the most influential research on The Psychological Sense of Community: Theory of McMillan & Chavis (1986) and the four elements that Sense of Community are composed of.

Abōd Shelters believes that having a home supports and provides a foundation to creating a sense of community. We also believe:

  • We believe in the potential of human spirit; Personal space is important to well-being.
  • We believe that everyone is deserving of an affordable, quality home that lasts.
  • We believe in producing social good in the largest measurable form possible.

Jacques and Lee-Ann Hammer, Abōd Shelters Manufacturers located in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Our foundation is purpose driven, focused on long term social impact. We are dedicated to envisioning and designing quality, low cost housing solutions in lifestyle communities. We work with Strategic Partners to raise the standard of living for families to enhance overall well-being.

Abōd Shelters are currently being manufactured in Johannesburg, South Africa. Watch and listen to Jacques and Lee-Ann Hammer’s, our South African manufacturers, story to understand the severity of the housing situation and how Abōd Shelters can be a solution.

Interested in getting involved? We are looking for partners to build and transform living conditions for the needy in Africa. Are you an individual or do you belong to an NGO with a need for housing, dormitories, classrooms, birthing units, etc? Small scale or large scale, let’s build together!

One House. One Family. One Day.

www.abodshelters.com

 If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Be sure to send the link to someone who might be interested in sponsoring a home or to partner with us to transform living conditions for the needy. Thank you!


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.


The Ideal Community? Let’s Build Together
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It’s the ‘Little Things’ That Make a Big Difference

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

Have you ever noticed that it’s the ‘little things’ that make a difference in the choices we make? The college our son or daughter chooses, where we buy our groceries, what car we drive, where we live or travel, what coffee shop we frequent or what activity we choose to participate in. The ‘little things’ that make a difference could be as minor as someone calling us politely by our name, having the door held open for us and being welcomed inside, the cleanliness of the store, the color, the distance, the temperature, etc.

When it comes to many things involving my time and how it is used, I am NOT a patient person. There are just too many other more important things that need my time. I don’t want to walk through a huge grocery store just for a gallon of milk. I don’t want to sit for an hour getting my hair cut. I absolutely hate having to try clothes on just to have an appropriate outfit to wear. Can you relate?

It’s the little things that make a big difference even in the daily choices that we make.

Abōd® Shelters Foundation work in areas where the average daily income is less than $1.90 per day. Yes, you read that right. Go ahead, do the math. There is nowhere in the world, where a person could live on this amount. So, my rant about having to take extra time walking through a large grocery store for milk is nothing compared to the daily little things that many people do just to survive. For example, walking several miles each and every day… just for water!

The Johnathan Sim Chikanta Secondary School in Twachiyanda, Zambia has a bore hole on their campus that the local villages and the school use for water. Picture credit to Michelle Rothfus.

Local women walking home after retrieving water from the bore hole located at the Johnathan Sim Chikanta Secondary School. I was unable to find out how far they walked every day for water. Picture credit to Michelle Rothfus.

Abōd® Shelters Foundation believes every aspect of a project is important – even the little things. We can have an impact on many people and we understand that when our partners projects are successful… we’re successful.

Here are FIVE things that we believe make a BIG difference when we work on our projects:

  1. We play well with others – We know that collaborating accomplishes much more than working individually, that’s why Abōd® Shelters Foundation collaborates with other non-profits or non-government organizations to provide housing for families, teachers, students, provide schools, medical and birthing clinics in areas in need. Read what we’ve done collaborating with Blessman International in South Africa. We recognize the value of collaborating with like-minded individuals and groups to benefit both through: Cost savings; increasing resources, skills and abilities; and improving efficiency. Most of all, collaborating allows both sides to accomplish much more, better, faster and smarter. In our case, it is providing as many homes to those in need as possible.

Dr Jim Blessman, President and Founder of Blessman International. Learn more here: http://www.blessmanministries.org/index.htm

Two of the 10 homes that were built earlier this year in Tanzania. Photo credit to Will Johnston, Tiny House Atlanta, who helped on this build.

2. We’re successful when you’re successful – We share what we’ve learned, what works and what doesn’t, tips and tricks from previous projects, etc. so that the same challenges don’t reoccur. Abod wants to make certain our partners have the support from the beginning to the very end of the project. Read ‘Basic Human Rights: Abod Shelters Has Shown What’s Possible’ to learn more about what we’ve accomplished with our partners. We don’t just deliver the materials to build, we are there during the early planning stages and follow up after families move in to make certain everything goes as planned.

3. We invite YOU on the build. What better way to see how Abōd® Shelters is making a difference? Get involved and build side by side with the locals and learn about the culture and their needs first-hand. Read about one small group from Iowa and their experience in ‘Introducing Abod Shelters Mission to Build Better Lives’.

4. We purchase everything that we can locally. We want to strengthen and support the economic base of the community where the Abod’s are being built so we use as many local materials, tools, services, vendors, etc that we can in the locations that we build.

The amazing group of volunteers that helped build 10 homes in 10 days earlier this year in Tanzania. Picture credit to Rob Marish at Keystone Pictures.

One of the 5 original Granny homes built at Del Cramer Campus through Blessman International in South Africa. Picture credit to Jacob Sharp Photo.

Partner with us as an individual, small group or organization in making a BIG difference with homelessness, disaster relief, refugee housing. Abōd® Shelters Foundation, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.

5. We hire locals to participate in the build. What better way to support the community, teach new skills and learn new skills than hiring locally? You’d be surprised at what WE learn from the locals about the culture along with tips and tricks and what works and what doesn’t with building in specific locations.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

It’s the ‘Little Things’ That Make a Big Difference
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Family: Making Them a Priority

Cover Photo credit to Michelle Rothfus. This picture was taken in Willits, Ca as we were carrying dinner items from one house to another.

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

As I fly over the Colorado Rockies and view the beautiful mountains from above I reflect on the last 3 ½ days spent with extended family that I’ve only seen a handful of times. I made a very last minute decision to take time off from work and go see my grandmother’s siblings and their families. Much of the information that I heard about these individuals came from my grandmother who was one of 9 and passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 102. She had 7 children and we used to have regular family dinners and gatherings at her house with all of her children and their families.

I grew up playing with and having my cousins as friends. My children only knew a couple of my cousins because they lived close to us. They didn’t grow up close to or see their immediate cousins very often. One would think you’d be able to see and remain in contact with your relatives but as is typical these days, time gets away and the normal day to day stuff takes over.

Looking at the mountains from high above reminds me of how overwhelming life can be. Being eye level with the clouds allows me time to relax and think. Being trapped in a small seat on a plane may have something to do with this situation but I welcome this time for myself. Sometimes it is good to sit back and look at everything from a distance. For example our philanthropic project, Abod Shelters, brings life-saving changes to its recipients but the tasks and responsibilities can be overwhelming. We recently had a wonderful summer intern who accomplished many things that I didn’t have the time or skill-set for. Read ‘Reaching Out to Universities for Interns: It’s a Win/Win’ to understand the true benefits of having someone come in for a short time, particularly a college intern. She accomplished much in just a short 3-month period. Be sure to check out the designs she came up with for our online store. A percentage is donated back to Abod with every purchase!

Kira Mann, our summer intern who is sporting one of her favorite Abod shirts but also came up with these designs.

Kathryn Wilson, Senior Draftsperson at BSB Design, and Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator for Abod, happened to wear their favorite design the same day.

Teresa Thomason, Abod Shelters new Administrative Coordinator, pictured third from the left with her children.

I recently welcomed a new individual to our Abod team. Her name is Teresa Thomason (pictured left with her children) and she has a broad base of experience including bookkeeping which is again, one of the skills I lack! She lives in a small town in Iowa, US close to her grandchildren and really enjoys having them around. She’ll be working with us part time and I know that her passion to help others will spill over in her new role.  Look forward to hearing more about what we’re doing and what Teresa is accomplishing.

Many of the families that Abod Shelters work with live in the same house or in the same small village as their extended family which is different than Americans. After completing school young adults in America most often move a great distance away from their parents usually for employment or career reasons.  Our cultures are different in many ways but I believe one thing is the same in every culture; whatever is the most important is what we make the priority.

One House. One Family. One Day.

www.abodshelters.com

 If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Family: Making Them a Priority
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Be Prepared: 7 Disaster Hacks

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

My daughter attends college in Florida so when the warnings came out for Hurricane Irma, it was difficult as a parent living in the Midwest US not to scream at her to “come home!”. The recent hurricanes, the fires out west and the earthquake in Mexico have affected everyone in SOME way. Whether being a direct victim of, knowing someone who was or hearing about a relative or friends experience during the disaster, it’s difficult to not feel your emotional heart strings being pulled – hard.

There have been several disasters just in the last few years that have caused a lot of damage. See the recent article on ‘The costliest natural disasters in US History.’ As Hurricane Irma was ripping through islands and coming closer to the state of Florida, people had time to prepare or leave depending on their location and situation. In most disasters, people do not. Or even if they do have time to evacuate, they have no where to go.

My daughter learned a few things from friends as far as how to protect herself and her belongings in case her city encountered a storm surge. She stated one friend instructed her to place her favorite pictures and smaller treasured items in the dishwasher and then make sure it was sealed shut. Friends also forwarded me ideas on what to instruct her to do. I couldn’t believe how my mind went blank in the moment so I was thankful for this. So I thought I would share these good, doable ideas that you can do now to be prepared. While these are not guaranteed to work in every situation, emotionally, it is helpful to have a plan just in case. Having a ‘go to’ kit can help with the feeling of being prepared. It’s important to discuss with your family or friends what your plan is in case of an emergency; where to meet, who to call and where the emergency items are that are listed below.

  1. Pack an emergency kit for yourself / family or winter emergency kit, depending on where you live; include a med kit, wet wipes, water, snacks, matches (see #5 below), batteries, flashlight and small radio.
  2. Pack an emergency kit for your pet(s) to last at least 3 days; include a towel, leash, food, water, dish, copy of medical records and small garbage bags. Make certain they have updated ID tags secured to their collar or even better, get them micro-chipped.
  3. Have a 3-ring binder with plastic protectors to contain your important phone numbers, documents and copies of identification.
  4. Stock up on batteries and keep them organized and in an airtight container to protect them from water damage.
  5. Store matches in a mason jar with something to strike the matches with on the inside.
  6. Keep flashlights in strategic areas and let your family know where they are.
  7. Store extra jugs of tap water to flush the toilet and properly deal with human waste if you lose water. (Thanks Connie!)

To help prepare your kiddos for disasters without scaring them be sure to read the blog, ‘Teaching Kids About Disasters.’

Disasters can happen with little to no warning and humans are pretty innovative when it comes to surviving even in the harshest environments. Be prepared by organizing an emergency kit, talking with your family / friends about your plan and being informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur in the area that you live.

In every country all over the world there are housing needs. Many people believe that there are just too many issues or too much is needed to accomplish anything worthwhile.  Abod Shelters have proven what’s possible for individuals in need and that it is worth it to get involved. Be sure to read, ‘Getting Involved… Is It Worth It?


One House. One Family. One Day.

www.abodshelters.com

 If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!

Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Be Prepared: 7 Disaster Hacks
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No Really, What If…?

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

There are literally millions of crazy, fascinating and hypothetical “What If” scenarios that fill up books that have people intrigued about technology, medicine, business, planets, etc. There are even movies made with the title of “What If”. These different scenarios get you thinking and dreaming about all the endless possibilities.

A couple of days ago, I was asked to think strategically and complete the sentence, “What if…?” I hadn’t had a chance to respond yet and as most people do when they write regularly, stumbled this week for a new and fresh topic for the Abod blog. I immediately went back to this sentence and began thinking about Abōd® Shelters because over the years we’ve dreamed many times on “what if’s” actually coming true! The ‘we’ve’ in the previous sentence refers to everyone who has ever been involved with Abod; the initial designers, board members, volunteers, partners and those that go and help on our builds.

In under 20 minutes I came up with the below list.

What if…

Abōd® Shelters had a constant revolving door for interns? I mean this in the most positive way. They could come in for just a few short weeks and share their novel perspectives, provide ‘outside the box’ ideas and then make them happen. They would receive real life experience in a local community non-profit and gain valuable experience, develop skills and make connections… all while growing their resume! Read more on ‘Reaching Out to Universities for Interns: It’s a Win / Win’.

Kira Mann, Abōd® Shelters summer intern

Every city provided jobs for the homeless? I know there are already programs available and in place for those who qualify. But what about everyone else? ‘Bridging The Gap: The Power of the Street Paper’ shares how college students are volunteering to make a difference in the lives of the homeless in Memphis, TN. What if… every college did this?

Thousands of people bought our shirts with the NEW designs? Every purchase results in a percentage back to the foundation to provide homes for those in need. Now THAT would be helpful. It would also be fun to see thousands of people sporting our shirts with innovative designs!  Go directly to our ‘Shop’ here. Thanks to our summer intern, our shop is now open with NEW designs. Read more about our super hero intern here.

What if…

Abōd® Shelters had manufacturing available in every country all over the world? We already use local materials and a few local laborers on our builds but this would mean stable jobs and a steady stream of business for the locals. It would also reduce shipping, customs and duty costs because they wouldn’t need to be transported across countries or shipped internationally. Abōd® Shelters Foundation can’t succeed alone, which is why we work with Partners to provide a choice, not charity. We’ve shown what’s possible but we have a long way to go. Read ‘Basic Human Rights: Abōd® Shelters Has Shown What’s Possible’ and learn more about what we’ve accomplished working with others.

More organizations encouraged their employees to ‘Give Back’ as part of their work culture? At BSB Design, Inc. employees sign up yearly to build locally with Habitat for Humanity, participate in CANstruction for the local food bank, Airplane Pull for the Special Olympics, provide designs to HomeAid’s “Project Playhouse” and Design and build for Make-A-Wish Foundation. Our employees ‘adopt’ families at Thanksgiving and Christmas to provide food and gifts and many, many more activities. Most recently, our Dallas office participated in a ‘Walk-A-Thon’ to raise money for an Abōd® Shelters Birthing Center in Tanzania. Really, getting involved is worth it.

BSB Design employees participating in the local Greater Des Moines Habitat Build.

BSB Design employees participating in the CANstruction event to support the local food pantry.

BSB Design Dallas Team early morning walkers to raise money for an Abōd® Shelters Birthing Center.

What if…?

There were warehouses full of Abōd® Shelters all over the world? Could you imagine how quickly a response could be to provide homes to people after a disaster? Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane, that hit Haiti last October is just an example. Every month of every year there are natural disasters, terrorist attacks, accidents that hundreds and thousands of people experience. I’m thankful for the organizations and volunteers that immediately respond to areas after horrific disasters. They come in with medical supplies, food and water. If there were Abod’s ready to be deployed when the next disaster happened, they could provide more than just a temporary, safe solution. Read ‘Abōd® Shelters Picks Up Where the Temporary Solutions Leave Off.’  The flexibility of the layout provides many options to those in need in any circumstance.

Governments were easy to work with? I know… this comes across as a bit sarcastic. There are just too many issues, basically RED TAPE, to deal with. But what if… large pieces of land could be set aside for low cost housing. What if… bribes were not needed, having to know someone in a high up position everyone just had good intentions? What if… Abōd® Shelters Village of the Future came to fruition? What if…the local municipalities provided the needed utilities to have clean, safe, welcoming neighborhoods that families could flourish in?

What if… Abōd® Shelters had your help? Let’s make a difference together.

Global need

  • Today, 1.6 billion people live in inadequate shelter around the world; 1 billion of those live in informal settlements. More than 100 million people worldwide are homeless.
  • About one in four people live in conditions that harm their health, safety, prosperity and opportunities.
  • By 2030, UN-HABITAT estimates an additional 3 billion people, about 40 percent of the world’s population, will need access to housing. This translates into a demand for 96,150 new affordable units every day and 4,000 every hour.
  • By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population is projected to be living in urban areas, causing slums and unplanned settlements to swell.
  • Estimates of homelessness in the United States vary from 1.6 million to 3 million people. Most studies conclude that about one-third of the homeless are children.

The impact of adequate housing

  • Adequate shelter is a critical foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty.
  • Adequate housing is vitally important to the health of the world’s economies, communities, and populations.
  • Homeownership is a form of wealth accumulation through equity and forced savings from mortgage repayment.
  • Good housing attracts economic investment and development.
  • Decent shelter contributes to thriving school systems, community
  • organizations and civic activism.
  • Safe homes and neighborhoods help to build social stability and security.

Key Facts obtained from http://www.habitat.org/getinv/events/world-habitat-day/housing-facts

Special thanks to Dan Swift, President of BSB Design, Inc. for always encouraging and asking the ‘What if’ question.

If you know of an organization that we could work together with to make an even bigger difference, I’d be very grateful if you’d let us know. Also, please forward this and share it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

No Really, What If…?
read more

STEMM’s Recent Tanzania Trip is Devine Intervention: Saving Lives and Changing Hearts

Cover Photo Courtesy of the Des Moines Register: A school bus in Tanzania crashes into a ravine on May 6, killing 35 people. Sioux City missionaries helped rescue three surviving kids. (Photo: Special to the Register)

This is a rare and compelling story about our Partners at STEMM Medical Ministry. When you come to the end, if you feel moved to offer support please contact me at Ginny@abodshelters.com.

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Many of you know we made a trip to Tanzania in January to build 10 Abod Shelters Partnering with Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM), operating in Mbuguni. It was an amazing experience building an Abod Micro Village with Ty Pennington, especially with a video film crew creating a level of excitement beyond our expectations. We made many close friendships with the STEMM leaders, Dr. Steve Meyer and wife Dana, along with Diane and Tim Bannister who direct the STEMM Campus activities.

The focus of the campus is to provide a safe and secure children’s care home and school that is sustained by a farming enterprise. The campus is also base camp for the medical ministry where college students studying to be medical professionals join mission groups to practice in real third word settings. Under the guidance of Dr. Meyer, they administer all types of health care in remote rural areas within a one-hundred-mile radius of the campus.

The Meyer’s have worked tirelessly to elevate the thinking of Tanzania’s leaders, to open their hearts to sincere US involvement to help its children grow up healthy, educated and capable of creating good productive lives. Lives that can nurture and care for the Tanzania of the Future –  to help it and its people get out of cycle of poverty and begin to prosper so they can take care of their families.

In recent years, the government has taken a hard stance on increasing help of the US on the position the country needs to rely on itself. At this juncture however, there does not seem to be evidence of positive change based upon this stance.

The STEMM Team inclusive of Dr. Meyer, his wife Dana and Board of Directors along with a group of medical students returned to Tanzania in late April. Part of these trips include experiencing the beauty of a game reserve. On Saturday, May 6th, seven of the STEMM Team were traveling to safari near Karatu, Tanzania, but were very upset with themselves for being over one hour late. The reserves have strict closing rules and once the park gates are shut at sunset no one can gain access until the next morning. The team was upset because they didn’t think they would have enough time to get through the park before the gates closed.

Personally looking back on life, many times when a delay in plans occur, I have come to realize ‘The Devine’ has other plans so we best just breathe deep and go with the flow. This proved to be true once again. The team, while upset about running late, were the third vehicle to come upon the most horrific school children bus accident in Tanzanian history.

Not thinking, we just acted on our training. “

Dr Steve Meyer

Dr. Meyer told me this story: “Miraculously, we had put together a medical team only three weeks before the trip and three of them were in our vehicle. The two vehicles ahead of us left earlier and did not have any medically trained passengers. It was just our van. The good news is our team was there acting as Triage Coordinator and First Responders who miraculously pulled three children out of the carnage with a heartbeat. Not thinking, we just acted on our training.

Unfortunately, while three were saved… thirty- two seventh graders, two teachers and the bus driver were all killed in the crash. The scene was horrific to say the least.”

Dr. Meyer went on to share what unfolded, “Our team loaded the three with obvious multiple fractures into a van which took them to the nearest hospital. They watched them disappear down the dirt road to what they hoped was competent resources at their destination. Amazingly, the next day our team saw a newspaper with the story of the terrible accident in it and asked the local newsboys where the children were. Once again, divine intervention was at play because the three children were taken to a hospital a few blocks away from the Game Reserve.

Understandably, the STEMM Team felt incredibly compelled to see the children particularly since one of them was for all intents and purposes dead on the scene. When they arrived at the hospital there was such tight security protecting the children, they had no hope to get in to see them.

Remarkably as they stood there wondering what to do, a well-dressed Tanzanian approached them who said he recognized them from their photos on YouTube and as Secretary of Health Minister he would be happy to take them to see the kids!”

Upon seeing the kids, Dr. Steve spoke with his STEMM Team and “it was decided to do everything in our power with God’s help to get them to America for the best professional body restoration possible.” Despite the Tanzanians government recent firm rhetoric that as a sovereign country they did not need Western assistance, incredibly they suddenly reversed this mandate. Not only did they agree to allow the children to travel to America but also agreed to work tirelessly attaining passports for the children and allowed their mothers to come with them. In addition, on the American front, despite the incredible financial challenges at Sioux City’s Mercy Hospital, they amazingly agreed to fully underwrite all the medical care required for the three children.

STEMM founders Steve Meyer and Lazaro Nyalandu, also a member of Tanzania’s National Assembly, visit the three survivors at Mt. Meru hospital in Arusha. (Photo: Special to the Register)

The Tanzanian government agreement came only after an astonishingly arranged meeting between Dr. Meyer and the vice president of Tanzania. After 60 hours of urgent, non-stop lobbying and phone calls, the only option left was to pay the $300,000 for private air ambulance to get the children to the states quickly so they could get the reconstructive care needed to offer them a life worth living again.

As this was unfolding for Dr. Meyer, an orthopedic surgeon himself, was wrestling with the agonizing decision of departing with his team back to America or stay behind to care for the kids. But then the greatest miracle of all occurred. Dr. Steve took a phone call from Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. Mr. Graham explained, as-a-result of lobbying from Congressman Steve King, he was willing to do all he could to transport these children back to America. And so, it was to be.

After a 40-plus hour flight across the ocean and a full week of series of surgeries these children are now on their way to physical, emotional and spiritual restoration. These children will now be a legacy of light and a living memorial to one East Africa’s greatest school children’s tragedies.

Divine intervention yields a change of heart as the result from the episodic situation is the entire heart set and dialogue in Tanzania has changed from unbearable grief to exhaling Joy and Hope. The witness of love for humanity and compassion for these children is a paradigm changing occurrence and an example for the world to see and understand. It raises us above our difference to celebrate our common ground – our humanity. This is a stellar example of how together we can honor life as a precious gift.

We wish the children of Tanzania a positive recovery and salute Dr. Meyer, wife Dana and all those at STEMM for the incredible work. Your friends at Abōd Shelters® will do all we can to help you through this recovery and to help at the campus when the kids return to Tanzania. Readers please come back for follow-up reports.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

STEMM’s Recent Tanzania Trip is Devine Intervention: Saving Lives and Changing Hearts
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Alas! Seattle Takes First Step With Tiny Home Community

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Last week my email in-box was inundated with emails from around the country calling my attention to an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal about an experiment going on in Seattle.
The article which I read over morning coffee as the sun rose evoked excitement although it is tempered with a healthy dose of cautious optimism. My heart skipped a beat as it felt like a small victory for many homeless. Private parties were stepping up. The headline offered hope.

The Wall Street Journal article, ‘Growing Homelessness Problems Spur Interest in Tiny Homes’ explores the issue well by providing insight not only from a negative perspective but from a positive human impact perspective as well.

This subject is dear to my heart. Our Abōd Shelters® Foundation has been advocating the role of Tiny Home Communities as transition housing for the homeless to city leaders across the country over the past 5 years. Many city officials are willing to open their doors and their hearts to hear about tiny homes like Abōd Shelters® and discuss their homeless challenges but the conversations seem to stop there. When we presented the Abōd Shelters® at International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas we had many such conversations.

Jacques Hammer, Abōd Shelters® Manufacturer located in South Africa, having a conversation during the International Builders Show held in Las Vegas 2016.

Conditions need to reach a point of critical chaos like in late 2015 when Seattle’s Mayor declared the city in a state of emergency due to the random camps growing to uncontrollable scale. Every conversation with city leaders reveal a formulaic approach wherein they rely on a government partnership with NGO’s and key agencies to deliver solutions to help the homeless. It takes the private sector to ‘own the problem’ like the homelessness, for real action to be taken to help. Today it is left to the private sector to create ideas, the solutions and run the execution of a program to deliver the solution. Knowing this on-to itself is very revealing.

It is revealed in the article through various remarks that the Tiny Home Village is a better solution for everyone. I love the quote from Low Income Housing Institute’s Executive Director Sharon Lee;

“Business owners and residents are more receptive when they see a bunch of tiny houses.”

Sharon Lee, Low Income Housing Institute’s Executive Director

Our belief that private citizens stepping up to create Tiny Homes Villages is the first sign of a positive sustainable solution.

However, this good news was tempered with bad as the truth revealed in Los Angeles, Denver and Seattle when builder style micro homes appeared anywhere on city property replacing pop up tents and shacks made of scrap by the homeless that were removed. In Los Angeles, the city eventually returned the micro homes to the builder and told him to find private land to build them. I see evidence they see this issue as the charge of non- profits, all the burden falls on them to obtain the land, build the houses, figure out who can live there, how they fit into the SYSTEM and for how long.

When does government become an active part of the homeless solution versus magnifying the problem with disruptive action?

Statistics indicate every major city in the US has a rising homeless problem. The good news is many cities are addressing the veteran’s homeless population with the help of private sectors and NGO’s. It is the right thing to do, however that is just a percentage of the need. Local government officials continue to ignore one of the biggest segments as women with school aged children are homeless living under the poverty level but cannot get on their feet, much less find secure homes. In Florida for example, kids without home addresses can be enrolled and attend our public schools where there is a feeding program for all kids. Sadly, a high percentage, almost 25%, leave school each day to return to the family car to sleep and wash up inside Walmart restrooms.  Does that take hold of your heart? It does mine!

After much reflection my conclusion is this – By and large we in America have become experts at turning a blind eye toward pain and suffering of homeless in our communities. Our local municipalities are too slow to respond to their needs. If it is left to the private sector to do the work, how can we come together to up our game to another level?

Here are my questions for you:

  1. How can more NGO’s come together to align behind addressing the unmet needs for women and children? It is a place to focus that can really help?
  2. Who can provide land to allow us to build an Abōd Shelters® village?
  3. What will it take to wake up America to respond?

We at Abōd Shelters® want to help be part of the solution in America.  Won’t you help us make the right connections? Please reach out to me with your thoughts. May you be amply blessed in all you do for others in need.

Simple and easy to build, yet structurally sound design is the premise behind Abōd Shelters®. Photo credit to Jacob Sharp at Jacob Sharp Photo’s.

Photo credit to Grace Vander Weide.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Alas! Seattle Takes First Step With Tiny Home Community
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Use Your Life Experiences to Help Someone Else

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

It’s a big decision to share a personal story. But when someone decides to, just the act of sharing is caring. Stories bring hope to the person who has not made it to the other side of their circumstance yet – who may feel isolated or ashamed. Personal stories also bring humanity to a problem that motivates others to help in a way that all of the stats and facts shared about the problem cannot.

There are many reasons why people across this country and around the world are homeless and there are many stories behind the Abōd Shelters® and why people choose to help us with our mission to provide affordable housing wherever it is needed. Some stories are from people, like Doug Sharp, who have witnessed the extreme poverty of third-world countries in their travels. Other stories are first-hand accounts from people who have survived homelessness.

Many times, we never get to know the story behind someone’s passion for and involvement with Abōd.  But Elizabeth Kandle, volunteer and guest blogger, relates through the following story that some people are homeless because they have escaped an abusive or oppressive situation. For them the streets at least offer freedom from their circumstance and the hope of finding a new path of their choosing – and hopefully, eventually a place they can feel safe and call home...

A Journey of Sharing Gives Hope

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Elizabeth Kandle, Business Developer, BSB Design, Inc

Watching the sun rise from the corner of a doorway in a building in San Francisco, I look around to the group of displaced children who didn’t sleep again last night. What are we looking for as we wander the streets? An underground sea of music and art? How did we find each other?

There are now five of us walking the streets shivering with unsteady hands. We are tired, but we have no choice but to walk on through the day. Too smart for our own good, we all ended up in college as high schoolers trudging a path of boredom that led us to look for something else. Asking random strangers to help us with nickels and dimes for cheap fast food. Sour cream is a luxury. It cost a quarter, but that quarter could almost feed another one of us with tacos at fifty-nine cents.

That was twenty years ago.

Life isn’t like that today and I am ashamed to say I throw groceries away now without a thought. I should give it more thought. I let my kids play with nickels and dimes that once added up to a feeling of a nearly full stomach. We were not homeless by coincidence – some of us sought homelessness because we were not happy with what we had, some of us were not safe where we were, and then there was me who was just wondering what else was out there.

After I experienced the fire as a child, life was different for me. I saw and learned things at too young of an age. I continued to excel at school in a way that allowed me to leave the regular school set up and take things at my own pace, but this also opened a world up to me that I was not ready for or equipped to navigate. And I was allowed the opportunity to try and figure it out on my own.

Perhaps that is what makes me different. Perhaps that is what allows me to never give up.

Sometimes we would walk all day. Miles upon miles. Meeting strangers and asking for spare change for food. At night we would retreat to old buildings long condemned to make art and share our stories. Stories about changing the world, why we were different and what we each did to survive. Sharing our stories kept us going. From so many walks of life we came together to keep each other company and to give each other hope.

One of the girls was 19, had 3 children living with her father and was 6 months pregnant. She was deaf in her right ear and had a muscle disorder that made her clench in a strange and awkward way. She asked me to pray for her children. In my mind, I prayed;

God, please help give this young girl strength and courage, please hold her in your arms as she walks slowly down her path to you, please be gentle on her weak soul, may her road be paved with less heartache and loss than the rest of ours. Please help her find her way home.”

Elizabeth Kandle

Most of us were in our early to mid-teens and a long way from home. We found a common thread of faith among one another and believed that there was a reason for us to be where we were. We felt that we were wandering through a life that was always being met with resistance, but at least we were free. Not free of rules or breaking them necessarily but free in the sense of knowing we didn’t give up. Instead, surviving something and then experiencing the feeling of relief and satisfaction of accomplishment.

There is also a freedom in not having anything, but that is not met without fear. A friend told me the other day that my fear is very different from anything he has encountered before and it is in that raw emotion that I am more human to him. We all seem to hide that humanness. But it is this characteristic in my mind that can help someone else. Just like 20 years ago when sharing our stories kept us going. We can give each other hope.

Abōd Shelters® works with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) to provide housing, medical clinics, dormitories, classrooms etc. Many of the individuals that end up using Abod’s have next to nothing. One of the benefits of getting involved in our mission trips and helping with the builds is being able to meet these individuals first-hand and hear their stories. Their stories are true testimonies of survival.

It is in our experience that we can reach out with what we have, even if it is only an unsteady hand, we can still help someone else. Help someone else by sharing your experience.

How can you help?

  1. Partner with us or provide an introduction to a potential partner. We can make a greater impact working together than separately. We have been able to build homes, dormitories, medical buildings and classrooms as a result of working together. Reach out to Abōd® Shelters so we can partner and make a difference together! partners@abodshelters.com
  2. Get involved as an organization or individual through prayer, raising awareness or providing monetary support. We’d love to be able to share our Abōd® Shelters Story with your organization or group.  ginny@abodshelters.com
  3. Follow us on social media, like, share and invite others. Abōd® Shelters values the relationships we have made and we’re thankful for all of the support our friends have provided.

End of Day 1 building 5 homes in Mokopane, South Africa.

End of Day 2 building homes for Grannies partnering with Blessman International.

End of Day 3 building homes for Grannies, their grandchildren and additional children that would be homeless if not taken in by these wonderful women.

Thanks to Michelle Rothfus, Abōd Shelters® Project Coordinator for above 3 project images.

From Elizabeth:

I was offered an opportunity to do some writing for the company I started working with a year ago. I thought it was a nice gesture and it was certainly something I was going to keep on doing anyway.  I have been a writer my whole life; spinning the narrative, selling the stories, and sharing in an obscure and vulnerable way that somehow feels safe to me. I wonder sometimes which event led me to hide behind a rough exterior only to share the true intimacy inside me with people who I don’t necessarily know. It’s like bad timing I guess. I don’t trust people all of the time, but I do have a sense that everything is going to turn out. Not like some innate religious or spiritual concept, but the feeling that it’s going to be ok is deep inside of me.

One House. One Family. One Day.

www.abodshelters.com

 If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!


Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


Use Your Life Experiences to Help Someone Else
read more

A First-Hand Account Of The Lasting Impact of Childhood Homelessness

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Abōd Shelters® values every donation and volunteer effort. One regular source of support we are most grateful for comes from BSB Design employees. Many of them choose to contribute a portion of every paycheck to our cause and others regularly donate their time to help raise awareness and money to make Abod’s available for families or to serve community needs, such as for birthing centers. We are excited to introduce you to one such BSB Design employee who has stepped up to help us with our weekly blog effort. If anyone blogs, they understand that keeping up with a regular schedule can be a challenge.

When we put Elizabeth Kandle from our Charlotte office on our schedule as a guest blogger, we were glad to have a slot filled and expected nothing more than for her to say what drew her to helping us or why she thinks Abōd Shelters® efforts are important. But the most powerful and personal story Elizabeth delivered, and you will read, was much more than we anticipated. We extend heartfelt thanks to Elizabeth for her willingness to share through her own first-hand perspective how being suddenly displaced from home or never having a home impacts a child and follows them into adulthood.

The Flame That Changed Everything In An Instant

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Elizabeth Kandle, Business Developer, BSB Design, Inc

“It lives inside me. And it breaths. Big full breaths. Inhaling and growing. It expands. It has life and cannot die.”

It’s 3 am now and I feel it. I also feel cold.

I have small hands and small bones and they are tired. I have been walking on these same two feet for a long time now. I haven’t slept well since I was a child and I often feel like a stranger in my own home, or perhaps my home is the stranger to me. As I think back to the writing I committed to, the tears come to the surface. I think back to how safe I used to feel. Before the fire.

Things can change in an instant. You always hear stuff like that. You never think that it’s going to happen to you. Displacement.

What do you do with two children and no home… how do you keep it together as a mother and create safety when your life catches flames before your very eyes? What was my mother thinking when she sent us away after the fire?

Like orphans, we wandered around each day in strange towns and strange homes with people we did not know. With my twin sister as my lifeline, my mom tried to find someone to care for us after the fire.

This experience created something inside of me. I was in the 8th grade and I didn’t know hunger. I had never known sadness – the real kind that creeps into your heart in the earliest of hours. I had never lived amongst people that didn’t want me there. I had never had to make my space so small or had to hide inside my own body… trying to disappear.

We lived in an old home in a small historic district. We had just moved after my parents separated and the house we rented was broken up over 3 floors.

My twin sister, my mom and I shared the two bedrooms in the middle. I don’t remember the woman on the first floor. It was her comforter stored too high in a closet that was subsequently below our traditional floor heater that burnt the house down. We had left for school that morning just like we had for about 3 weeks after the move.

We came home to nothing. At least someone had saved the cat.

With her heart in her hands, my mother drove us to extended family that we had never met. A lot happens in a divorce and I quickly learned that the people that were by our side one time did not stand beside us then. As an adult I get it, but as a child it terrified me. People can leave? Houses can disappear? You can wake up one day with only the shoes on your feet?

I seem to wake up at this time of night more often now. This new house seems funny, and I sleep in a room with no doors. It’s not a bedroom, but no one was intended to sleep here until we came along. Confused, I stumble in the dark to the slider and see the moon. That’s the one thing that didn’t change.

Have you ever spent nights alone in your head… just wondering how you got here? How you really got anywhere? There seems to be so much promise in the world. It feels like a ribbon running through all of us and tying us together. Hope lives inside of me. After all that has happened, how can I not have hope? What I choose to do with this experience is up to me. I am strong, fierce and unstoppable. I know what is right. I know that if I take one breath in and out each day with stability in my soul I can change the world.

“Will you come with me?”

All around us are things that we did not choose and we are not always as charmed as we had hoped we would be, as we once were. Together we can take a stand.

You never know when a disaster or accident may happen where an entire family is uprooted, mentally affected and scrambling for support. The picture on the left is an image of Talent and his family in front of their Abōd Shelters® home. Two years ago, a tree fell on their previous family home and it was destroyed. See the full story by reading “Project Update: Newest Abōd Design Came to South African Family – by Accident?!” They recently had a baby and are doing well.

Abōd Shelters® understands that housing is one important aspect needed in supporting a family and getting them back on their feet.

Please help us provide homes to those in need. How can you help?

  1. Partner with us or provide an introduction to a potential partner. We can make a greater impact working together than separately. We have been able to build homes, dormitories, medical buildings and classrooms as a result of working together. Reach out to Abōd Shelters® so we can partner and make a difference together! ginny@abodshelters.com
  2. Get involved as an organization or individual through prayer, raising awareness or providing monetary support. We’d love to be able to share our Abōd Shelters® Story with your organization or group.  ginny@abodshelters.com
  3. Follow us on social media, like, share and invite others. Abōd Shelters® values the relationships we have made and we’re thankful for all of the support our friends have provided.

From Elizabeth:

I was offered an opportunity to do some writing for the company I started working with a year ago. I thought it was a nice gesture and it was certainly something I was going to keep on doing anyway.  I have been a writer my whole life; spinning the narrative, selling the stories, and sharing in an obscure and vulnerable way that somehow feels safe to me. I wonder sometimes which event led me to hide behind a rough exterior only to share the true intimacy inside me with people who I don’t necessarily know. It’s like bad timing I guess. I don’t trust people all of the time, but I do have a sense that everything is going to turn out. Not like some innate religious or spiritual concept, but the feeling that it’s going to be ok is deep inside of me.

One House. One Family. One Day.

www.abodshelters.com

 If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!

Abōd® Shelters, a registered 501©3 organization, are very interested in working with US and international organizations to leverage resources to provide homes to those in need.
You can get involved and help us build a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com


A First-Hand Account Of The Lasting Impact of Childhood Homelessness
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How A Conversation Led To Tiny House Atlanta Joining Abod Shelters in Tanzania

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Cover photo credit goes to Teresa Choi, volunteer on our Tanzania mission trip in January 2017, where 10 Abōd Shelters® were built in 10 days.

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

As I often do, I received a call recently from an NGO doing work in the United States who had heard about our Abod Shelters solution. While we had a great and worthwhile conversation, ultimately, Abod was not the right fit. But in the giving community people are often connected to other NGO’s in such a way that they can be mutually beneficial to each other. Understanding that Abod wouldn’t fit their organization needs, they knew of another organization that our solution might be a good fit for. That is how we came to be connected with Tiny House Atlanta.

I am very grateful for every conversation that I have because you never know what it might lead to. Because of this call, I met Will Johnston, with Tiny House Atlanta, a vibrant personality with courage and commitment toward helping educate and inspire Atlanta’s growing populace about the virtues of embracing the Tiny House lifestyle.  Life in the city is getting exceedingly expensive so coping is an issue.

We discovered his organization and ours had loads in common, even though the physical manifestation of the work his association performs is local and our work unfolds on different continents.  While the economic conditions between urban Atlanta and for example rural Tanzania, are dramatically different, the fundamental human dynamics that drive our desire to encourage tiny home living are much the same – security, stability, simplification.

Will expressed genuine excitement about our Foundation’s work in various parts of Africa so much so that he volunteered to join our next mission trip to Tanzania in January 2017.

Will Johnston, Tiny House Atlanta, joined in building 10 Abōd Shelters® in 10 days in Tanzania this past January.

Will Johnston with volunteers, including Ty Pennington, and local school children during the building of 9 Abōd Shelters® to be used as homes plus an Abōd Birthing Center at the Hospital. 

To my delight, he made good on his promise and joined us on his first ‘purposeful Mission trip,’ The Great African Adventure with Ty Pennington to help build 10 Abōds in 10 Days on the STEMM Medical Ministry Campus and in the Village of Mbuguni.

Will made the commitment to fully participate in all aspects of the Great Adventure Mission Trip. I can attest to it – Will did make the most of his three weeks in Tanzania. The purpose of Part One of the trip was to get hands on experience building the Abod. Like most people who fall in love with the Abōd Shelters humanitarian design, Will was intrigued about the build formula in relationship to our self-imposed mandate to assemble 10 Abōds in 10 days. This never done before challenge, would take a full effort by every volunteer member to come together and pull their weight.

As soon as Will arrived he jumped right in with full gusto and muscle. He drilled, carried, climbed and hammered, not to mention made us laugh, sang with us and cajoled the team just when we all needed it. He played his role within the volunteer team and with Ty Pennington to accomplish our extreme goal of building 9 Abōd Shelters® to be used as homes plus an Abōd Birthing Center at the Hospital.  Once much of the hard work was accomplished, Will joined us on a wonderful Safari experience in the Tarangire Reserve Camp with a memorable overnight stay the night before at a campsite one hour into the reserve.   It was the perfect way to expand on our friendships, relax after hard day’s work and share quality time together.

Photo credit to Teresa Choi.

It seemed during that first call potential existed to strike up a rewarding friendship but I underestimated how powerful sharing this Mission Trip could be in kindling so many connections for a lifetime.

When I asked Will to reflect on his experiences on the Tanzania Mission Trip he offered,

The entire trip was a life changing experience for me. I see so many benefits from participating in a purpose driven trip like this where you come together with common goals around building a Abōd Micro Village that really makes a difference. While you are contributing physically you are benefiting emotionally. Plus, you are making new friends and discovering things about yourself in the process. Allowing time to taste and be part of the culture and go on a Safari trip are icing on the cake. They expand your point of view. When you get back to the US you see things differently.”

Will Johnston, Tiny House Atlanta

Learn more about ‘Will Johnston On Why Tiny Houses?’ Since then the impact has gone even further. Now Will wants to expand our relationship to help us even more. I am happy to share Will has asked Abōd Shelters® Foundation to participate in his Tiny House Atlanta Festival in Decatur, Georgia on September 29th –  October 1st, 2017. We are working out the details of how we will be featured so stay tuned, especially if you are in the Atlanta area and want to know more about Tiny Homes and the Abōd Shelters® Foundation, our design solution and our humanitarian work.

We were all grateful for Will Johnston’s volunteer spirit, joyful personality on this milestone African Adventure Mission trip and especially his willingness to champion our message to those people genuinely interested in the many dimensions of the Tiny House Movement that Will is fostering.  Thank you, Tiny House Atlanta.   We wish you much success and are excited about working together.

A picture taken during the build of a couple of the homes that will be used by the local school. Credit to Will Johnston for the photo.

A picture of the inside of the Birthing Center that was built in the local village. Photo credit goes to Doug Vander Weide, Chairman of Abōd Shelters® Foundation.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

How A Conversation Led To Tiny House Atlanta Joining Abod Shelters in Tanzania
read more