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Making a Difference in Kliptown: One Youth At a Time

Cover photo credit: Aurica Hurst, Temple University student

We didn’t want to see other young people going through what we’d gone through: No uniforms … feeling hungry in class,” Madondo said. “We know the problems of this community, but we also know the solutions.”

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

Growing up sharing a toilet with neighbors and bathing out of a bucket is typical for nearly 45,000 people who live in the slums of Kliptown, a district in the largely black township of Soweto near Johannesburg, South Africa. Townships, which are located throughout South Africa, are often underdeveloped urban living areas on the periphery of cities where non-whites were forced to live from the late 19th century until the end of apartheid. Most often, residents do not own the land so houses are built illegally with informal construction which is unregulated by the government.

This results in a lack of the most basic services such as: Sewage, clean water and electricity, which greatly impacts resident’s quality of life.

Thulani Madondo,  30, grew up in Kliptown with 9 siblings. Financial pressure forced all of his older siblings to drop out of school. Madondo was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. He washed cars and worked as a stock boy to earn enough money to stay in school. Ultimately, he couldn’t afford to go to college though.

Not wanting other young children to go through what he went through, he and other Kliptown natives founded Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) in 2007.

Thulani Madondo struggled as a child growing up in the slums of Kliptown, South Africa. Today, his Kliptown Youth Program provides school uniforms, tutoring, meals and activities to 400 children in the community. “We’re trying to give them the sense that everything is possible,” he said.

A tutor works with students in the after-school program. Students and their parents have to sign a contract saying the child will stay in school and attend mandatory tutoring session twice a week; in exchange, KYP agrees to provide uniforms, books and school fees.

The program requires a commitment from its members. Every child must come in with a parent or guardian and sign a contract. Students must agree to stay in school and attend mandatory tutoring sessions twice a week; in exchange, KYP agrees to provide uniforms, books and school fees for any student who cannot afford them.

The formula for making the program work is that they provide tutoring Monday through Thursday and on Fridays and Saturdays students play sports or participate in cultural activities.

There are more than 10,000 children in the community, so working with 400 might seem like nothing,” Madondo said. “But if (they) are dedicated … we can make a difference.”

The organization not only provides a lunch for each child to take to school but a hot meal for when they return. The children have a 30-minute walk to school since there are no schools located in their township. They do have the only library in the community with nearly 300 Internet-accessible laptops. The laptops were donated thanks to the One Laptop per Child non-profit organization that provides the world’s poorest children with access to low powered laptops. Students can borrow these computers for 3 days to practice their computer skills and complete assignments.

I reached out to Mr. Madondo to talk about his successful program and how Abōd Shelters could support their work but didn’t hear back in time for this post.

Abōd Shelters recently posted a blog titled, ‘Heroes of True Character: What Would Mother Teresa Do?’ and in it we ask “Where are our heroes of true character today?” Well, here is one who is making a big impact in the young lives of so many!

For many, it is our past experiences that impacts what we do in our future. Other times it is seeing someone else do something impactful which then motivates us to do something. While we may not be driven to devote our lives full time to doing what Thulani Madondo does on a daily basis, we can still choose to make a difference.

Whether you have extra time to give each week or each month, you have the ability to put a smile on someone’s face, including yours, and more than likely inspire others to do the same for someone else.

Interested in being ONE person that makes a difference with homelessness, disaster relief, refugee housing?

  1. Organizations, groups and churches of all sizes can help Abod Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support.
  2. College Students can help Abod Shelters spread the word on campus or bringing a campaign to your university.
  3. Through Partnering with companies and individuals who share our passion, we can provide homes to everyone in need.

One House. One Family. One Day.

www.abodshelters.com


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.


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.

Making a Difference in Kliptown: One Youth At a Time
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New Way to Do Good: When Traveling Makes the Journey More Worthwhile

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

If you’re reading our blog you most likely are a caring soul who look for ways to make a difference both big and small. You then may also enjoy hearing about this latest discovery.

Many of our friends through Abod Shelters travel pretty regularly. Some travel for business, others travel for pleasure and many others go on mission trips with the goal of volunteering their time to do good works in remote places of the world. When you are on the road, there is nothing more important than having safe, comfortable shelter to spend the night. For those who have spent time in third world countries where amenities like electricity, hot water, heat or air conditioning are non-existent, you come to really appreciate all the hotel room details you once took for granted.

Classroom in a remote area of Ghana where Abod homes were built to support a fish farm and house workers and consultants.

Bed provided by World Vision staff with needed mosquito / insect netting in southern Zambia.

Traveling through Asikuma, Ghana where Abod homes were built to be used as birthing and maternity centers.

Traveling is not an easy matter. It starts with the online search which takes more time than it used to. In order to get the best rate, you need to spend time searching several sites. Sometimes it depends on the day that you search. It may seem like a game that the online sites play, but this is just the first step in the journey.

If you’re like me, you look for a good deal to get the best possible hotel room rate. This weekend while reading the New York Times, I came upon an article, ‘Donate to Charity, Get a Hotel Discount’ by Elaine Glusac. It sounded worthy of noting, so I wanted to share it.

If you are driven by finding the deal perhaps there is a new way to approach the pursuit that can make a difference to more than your heart – it can also touch the heart of others in need. 

A new hotel booking website, Kind Traveler aims to link discounted rates to charitable donations. It began in early August with mostly boutique and style-focused hotels in 11 locations in the US, Mexico and the Caribbean. Users who make the minimum donation of $10 a night to a charity through the website will get 10 to 25 percent off published rates.

“Kind Traveler’s mission is to transform travelers into a force that benefits local and global communities, the environment and animals,” said Jessica Blotter, the chief executive and founder of the site.

The hotels select local charities they support. Kind Traveler users can also allocate their donations to go to a dozen global charity partners.  Kind Travelers vets its partner hotels based upon wellness features, sustainability measures and community impact. Charities are organized on their site by the causes they represent. Hotels participating include 1 Hotel South Beach, Virgin Hotels Chicago and the Benjamin in New York which is close to where I used to live in Manhattan.

Kind Travelers founders say the rates are comparable to those at online travel sites. After all, we all know there is wiggle room in the costs.

This certainly sounds worthy of checking out if you are bound for any destination where they have a hotel partner. Perhaps booking through this site will also offer the emotional benefit of an enhanced night sleep knowing you made a difference.

Do you have experience using this site or have others that you feel make a difference and are worthy to share? I would love to hear from you.

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 with me at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.


In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


New Way to Do Good: When Traveling Makes the Journey More Worthwhile
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One Humanity: Promoting The World Coming Together

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

World Humanitarian Day is held August 19th of every year. It is a day which recognizes and pays tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service. The 2016 Theme was ‘One Humanity’. While it is a day to bring about awareness with events held around the world, there are 130 million people around the world that need humanitarian assistance to survive because of disasters or conflicts. According to the UN Refugee Agency:

We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.”

This past World Humanitarian Day highlighted the theme of ‘One Humanity’ by promoting how the world came together in Istanbul around the Agenda for Humanity. The Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity is asking global leaders to commit to 5 core responsibilities.

Read the details of the agenda with its objectives for each responsibility in its entirety here. 

  • 5 Core Responsibilities:

    1. Political Leadership to Prevent and End Conflicts
    2. Uphold the Norms that Safeguard Humanity
    3. Leave No One Behind
    4. Change People’s Lives – From Delivering Aid to Ending Need
    5. Invest in Humanity

In addition to calling on leaders of parties, national and community leaders, leaders of businesses and enterprises, young people, leaders of international aid organizations and individual citizens, the Secretary-General calls upon “global leaders to place humanity — the concern for the dignity, safety and well-being of our citizens — at the forefront of all policies, strategies and decision-making. Take more initiative to prevent and end conflicts, putting the appropriate national capacities and resources behind those objectives. Increase the number of staff working on peace, conflict resolution and prevention. Bring other leaders together to find solutions and invest in international cooperation and a stronger United Nations. Stand up for values and respect for the rules that we have agreed upon and show the courage to look beyond short-term election cycles and political mandates. Leaders of the twenty-first century must think beyond borders and national interests.”

With an unprecedented number of people that need help worldwide today, it’s all hands on deck. As a citizen of the world, ‘One Humanity’ includes you. You can be helpful on any level from volunteering in your community to spreading awareness.

The United Nations Office has made it easy to help people understand real scenarios faced by people every day. You can start by taking the following ‘Would you Rather’ quiz: https://worldhumanitarianday.org/. After taking the quiz be sure to share your personalized graphic on social media using the #sharehumanity hashtag.

Interested in being ONE person that helps us make a difference with homelessness, disaster relief, refugee housing?

  1. Organizations, groups and churches of all sizes can help Abod Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support.
  2. College Students can help Abod Shelters spread the word on campus or bringing a campaign to your university.
  3. Through Partnering with companies and individuals who share our passion, we can provide homes to everyone in need.

Refugees at a makeshift camp near the Greek village of Idomeni; thousands are stranded at the Balkan border. Picture: AFP/Getty

One House. One Family. One Day.

www.abodshelters.com


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 in 2016. 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.

One Humanity: Promoting The World Coming Together
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Heroes of True Character: What Would Mother Teresa Do?

Feature photo credit: Residents of the Mangueira favela watch the Olympics’ opening-ceremony fireworks at Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. © 2016 Tércio Teixeira

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

This week was full of excitement and talk about the inspiring performances by our American athletes. It was gratifying to see their commitment, focus and determination rewarded with favorable results. They are all winners for just having the courage to make the trek to Rio de Janero in spite of the many dangers being reported and warnings not to. These athletes are heroes to many, not only because of their achievements but also for their character as demonstrated by how they carry themselves and represent the United States.

Perhaps it was the immersion into the 2016 Olympics mixed with the daily news of racial divide, shootings, disruption and unprecedented political gymnastics that made me wake up Sunday morning hungering for higher ground.

As part of my Sunday morning ritual, I reached for The New York Times.

Syrian children waiting for lunch this month at a refugee camp southeast of Athens. Credit: Eirini Vourloumis for The New York Times

While searching for our remarkable Team Rio’s Olympic results in section one, I came upon two articles that were side by side. The left article was titled “As Attention Ebbs, Bleak Times for Marooned Migrants in Greece” with a full-color picture of Syrian children waiting for lunch at a refugee camp near Athens.

On the right was an article titled “A Priest’s 17 Years of Lobbying for Mother Teresa’s Sainthood.”  It included a picture of the devoted Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers – his order founded by Mother Teresa.

Coincidence or not, this trifecta of news coverage I discovered – from Olympic results to destitute circumstances to Mother Teresa – sparked me to wonder: Where are our heroes of true character today? The world is full of pain and suffering, yet we hear words of anger and divide from our leaders.

The Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk. Credit: Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

While the Rio Olympics reveals to the world the best the city has to offer, around the corner are deeply painful slums where children live in squalor. We lament the terrible conditions our athletes must compete in and forget the people of Rio don’t get to leave these conditions behind after the Olympics are over.

Meanwhile, a few thousand miles away in Athens, Greece, refugees are now becoming lost in time. The women look after scores of children playing near heaps of garbage and swat flies from the faces of babies.

The Greek military has organized encampments in northern Greece for those fleeing Africa and the Middle East. But it has been reported that few of the resources promised from the European Union to assist asylum seekers have materialized, leaving Greek authorities to deal with the crisis with no funds to offer humanitarian relief.  Life for these refugees has moved into a desolate state as they wait to be processed with no direction in sight.

These are just a couple of examples of places where people are destitute today. Children are the most innocent victims of conflicts and conditions that should be dealt with, yet while we tune in daily to watch our Olympic heroes we often tune out the opportunities we each have to be a hero to people in need.

For many years my hero was Mother Teresa. I am one of those many people who looked up to her. I miss her positive influence on society.

It has been 19 years since her passing in 1997 at the age of 87. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 who serve the poor in over 133 countries. When she walked the earth, you could feel her humble spirit touch your heart by watching her perform her life’s work, prayerfully tending to the poorest of the poor.

She sacrificed so much to give way to the higher calling. A voice within spoke to her about what was really important in life: Caring for humanity in its truest sense, one poor person at a time. Her acts and devotion thrust her into the media limelight, yet she retained her humility throughout. In times of a humanitarian crisis, her soft voice spoke louder than any politician. It helped us do the right thing and to rise to the occasion. She clearly said and did what was required to help people with their suffering no matter who they were or how difficult it was. She spoke for those without a voice.  To me, Mother Teresa exemplified ‘true character.’

With the absence of a clear voice of leadership rising above the chaos, I ask myself, “What Would Mother Teresa Do?”  How would she guide us to care for these children? Would she be able to break down the walls that divide and open the gates for aid to flow?

With everything going on in the world today, we all have the opportunity to be someone’s hero – a hero of true character by taking action.

Among the 124 Awards Mother Teresa Received:

  • Padmashree Award (from the President of India) August 1962
  • Pope John XXIII Peace Prize January 1971
  • John F. Kennedy International Award September 1971
  • Jawahalal Nehru Award for International Understanding November 1972
  • Templeton Prize for ``Progress in Religion`` April 1973
  • Nobel Peace Prize December 1979
  • Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) March 1980
  • Order of Merit (from Queen Elizabeth) November 1983
  • Gold Medal of the Soviet Peace Committee August 1987
  • United States Congressional Gold Medal June 1997

Mother Teresa will formally be canonized by Pope Francis in Rome on September 4th, 2016. She was indeed a woman who is an icon of modern saintliness.

So my question to you is… who are our heroes of true character today?

In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director


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.

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.

Heroes of True Character: What Would Mother Teresa Do?
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Abōd® Shelters Picks up Where the Temporary Solutions Leave Off

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” by Mary Schmich.

I recently came across this quote and I seriously could not think of one single thing that I did that day or even in the past week that really scared me. Now if you count me going into my teenage son’s room to gather up dirty towels, well, then I get ONE point. But really, when was the last time you did something scary?

I did travel on my own from the US to southern Zambia where I met up with a group that I didn’t know to help build Abōd® Shelters for a school. I flew to Johannesburg, South Africa on my own and navigated my way to a local hotel and returned the next day to catch a short flight up to Zambia. Yes, I needed to put my big girl pants on and keep placing one foot in front of the other. Adventuresome? Yes! Scary? No.

Whether you consider it an adventure or something ‘scary,’ life really begins when you get out of your ‘comfort zone.’ When I went on my trip to Zambia, I wasn’t fully prepared for what I experienced. I lived for a couple of weeks without many things we consider essential like plumbing, electricity, running water. It helped me imagine what life is like for people living without these things every day. However, it was an enriching experience that I don’t regret because it gave me that new perspective on the world.

But it doesn’t take going to a third world country to be faced with having to live without these essentials. The things we take for granted can easily be taken away from us at a moment’s notice.

Every month of every year there are natural disasters, terrorist attacks, accidents and hundreds and thousands of people experience them or are victims of them.

“Every day the fire is gaining ground on us,” an official said. Photograph: Noah Berger/Reuters

A Nasa satellite image shows Tropical Storm Earl approaching Honduras, Belize and Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula on Tuesday. Photograph: Handout/AFP/Getty Images

There are large numbers of people all over the world that do not have a safe place to go to sleep every night. There are millions of refugees leaving everything that they know and own behind to flee to safety. Many are still not safe or are still enduring unimaginable crisis during their travels.

Since June, UNICEF said, more than 64,000 migrants have passed through the Macedonian border and 89,161 have been recorded at the Serb border. Picture: Warrenn Allott / The Telegraph

I pray that I am never involved in a bombing, an earthquake, get caught in a tornado, be carried away by a flood or experience homelessness firsthand. But these events are what I think of when I hear or see the word… ‘scary’. In all of these examples people die or are severely injured as well as are emotionally scarred. In all of these examples, other people come together to help those affected. People come together to help the injured, to clean up, to provide food, water, shelter, etc.

Fortunately, there are organizations already established to help make these circumstances less scary for the people going through them. Sometimes these circumstances are more than temporary and often lead to long term issues like homelessness. That is when many of these resources and organizations are not enough.

We, at Abōd® Shelters, understand that housing is only a small piece of what is needed to begin the support effort to those affected by these tragedies.

What the temporary solutions leave off is where Abōd® Shelters picks up. We provide affordable and long term solutions to people who are experiencing the chronic aftermath of the initial event such as homelessness or being forced to live in substandard housing. It’s essential to have solutions that help transition people from temporary tent or disaster communities into long term housing. It is well documented that disease, crime, personal safety are all issues that are compounded in these densely occupied areas that don’t have the infrastructure to support a permanent settlement.

Children sleep near the town of Gevgelija. Picture: EPA/NAKE BATEV

Daily Life on Alien Soil: A Look at Refugee Camps on Syria’s Perimeter Picture: Phillippe Huguen Read More…

According to The Guardian just in the last few days there have been tropical storms, wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons, a giant sinkhole, tornadoes and flooding.

We know that great collaboration between large and small organizations and individuals is necessary to provide needed support. We can provide emergency or long term housing in a variety of needed situations. With our low cost, simple to build and quality materials, Abōd® Shelters is the right partner to make a difference.


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.

We are sincerely thankful for all of our partners!


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 in 2016. 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.

Abōd® Shelters Picks up Where the Temporary Solutions Leave Off
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South Africa Faces Critical Vote To Determine Its Political Future

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

While we swelter in record setting heat across the US and recover from our nation’s unprecedented 2016 presidential election conventions, our friends in South Africa are deep into winter. The people of South Africa are confronted this Wednesday with a similar defining moment to the US as they vote to choose the national party leadership they believe will bring their country forward well into the future.

There is a growing concern among South Africans toward the party which prevailed over the country since 1994, the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC has been the power party, the party of Nelson Mandela who was elected in 1994 carrying forward his vision. The ANC has done great things for South Africa. But since 2009 the progress seems to have stalled and from some insider’s opinions, progress on some issues have actually reversed.

No doubt the ANC, led by Jacob Zuma, is grappling with some daunting issues. These concerns have opened the door for alternative party platforms to gain traction on a level that prior to this time may not have been a threat to the ANC. Major cities like Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth feel the pain of high levels of unemployment. Little evidence of action to support the neediest populations, including the influx of refugees from other countries, adds to the pressure.

South Africa has 13 political parties with the top 3 opposing parties listed as:

  1. African National Congress (ANC) is the current governing party,
  2. Democratic Alliance (DA) are pro-business and
  3. Economic Freedom Fighters who were founded by Julius Malema after he was expelled by the ANC. They describe themselves as “a radical and militant economic emancipation movement” that is “pursuing the struggle for economic emancipation”.

You can see initial efforts of progress from 22 years of ANC power, like in the Mamelodi Township on Pretoria’s outskirts where rows of neat brick houses built by the government line the streets. But these improvements have been slow and are far too expensive to duplicate at scale levels. These small efforts have not been sufficient enough to tackle the need for housing for the vast majority of those in need. So it seems the progress has stopped.

Adults who live in the Mamelodi Township report that they have little faith their children will live better lives.

The official unemployment rate stands near 27% with more than half of these individuals being under the age of 35. The international Monetary Fund warns, by the end of next year, the per capita income will slip below 2010 levels.

Winter in the provinces and cities can mean feeling the cold seep into one’s bones in many areas where living in flimsy, uninsulated shacks are the norm for millions of families who are struggling to survive. Yet there are areas in major cities where wealth stands in mighty contrast to the vast majority of so many people visibly in need.  Our team has been through the informal settlements and have worked with the government to build Abōd Shelters® as test housing.

The African National Congress (ANC) process has been laboriously slow taking years to get from one step to another. In December of 2015, after nearly 2 years of initially submitting the application, we received the South African Certification for approval. This is a very important endorsement from the ANC. While we have received positive feedback on our solution because it is 50% less than other housing, 80% faster to build and lasts 100% longer than traditional block homes, the economic downturn has impacted the flow of government funding.

The South African economy has faltered since 2009 and has become further unstable in the last couple of years. Now Brexit will also cause Africa’s largest economies to suffer with South Africa to be the worst affected. The pain points of poverty will intensify. We hear this from our local teams working in various areas who witness the struggles first hand, especially concerning the vital needs of the children.

We at Abōd Shelters® Foundation stand with the people of South Africa as they vote for their future. We pray for a positive outcome for South Africa. May its newly appointed leader be progressive and compassionate toward the neediest people of the country especially in the informal settlements where a new wave of housing solutions could bring great relief and dignity to so many and improve the quality of life for its children.

Jacques and Lee-Ann Hammer, with Abod Homes South Africa, shares what it is like from 1 of 2700 Informal Settlements in South Africa.

If you want to provide an Abōd Shelters® home in a Village in South Africa you can donate for this purpose.  Your Abod will include a plaque that has your family’s name engraved on it and include the name of the family who will live in it.

Cover photo from BuzzSouthAfrica ‘SA Women More Interested to Exercise Their Electoral Rights in the Forth Coming Elections’ reporting that for this 2016 election “out of the 1.3 million new voters registered, 80% were under the age of 30 while more than 52% were women compared to 47% for men.”


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.

South Africa Faces Critical Vote To Determine Its Political Future
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Mandela Washington Fellowship Recipients Visit Abōd Shelters® at BSB Design’s Office

“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.”  – Nelson Mandela

Michelle Rothfus Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

Abōd® Shelters and BSB Design, Inc., founders of Abōd®, recently had the opportunity to host  two recipients of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship for the afternoon. According to the U.S. Department of State website, this remarkable program provides “1,000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. higher education institution with support for professional development after they return home.” The University of Iowa and Drake University, both located in Iowa, recently hosted 25 each of these recipients and provided six weeks of academic and leadership training sponsored by the US Department of State.Fellowship logo

Kelly Sargent, President of Brainstorm Iowa, attended her normal Rotary Club of Des Moines breakfast meeting and ended up sponsoring breakfast for one of the 25 visiting recipients that morning. She was able to interact with several. See more information on her blog here. She learned from many of the recipient’s about their outstanding accomplishments in Africa and connected with two of the recipients who are architects and expressed interest in meeting local architects. She immediately reached out to her acquaintance Stephen Moore, Senior Partner with BSB Design, Inc. While they were interested in BSB Design’s wide range of work, they were especially interested in hearing about Abōd Shelters® projects in Africa.

While Mr. Moore shared about BSB Design’s work, we were all amazed to learn how similar the language reference was with our firms, the client challenges and technology used.

Both 3D revised

One of the fun things Hyacinthe and Bonga experienced was our 3D Virtual Reality technology of an Abōd® Shelters community.

Both visitors shared their heartfelt hope that, through their work as architects, they can help provide homes to those who cannot afford them. Hyacinthe Bemadjielfils, CEO for Green Concept in Chad, communicated that unless you live in a major city in Chad individuals do not have access to electricity. Some have found a way to live off the grid. Bonga Velimangele Diamini, Director at Expressions Architects in Swaziland, shared that people are having difficulty supporting themselves financially in rural areas. So they flock to urban areas with the hope of finding employment and housing. He went on to say that several individuals end up sharing a tiny room that really should not be habitable.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Visitors at BSB Design Office

From left to right: Mary Brown, Stephen Moore, Bonga Velimangele Diamini, Hyacinthe Bemadjielfils, Michelle Rothfus and Corey Schmidt.

The visiting architects heard the Abōd Shelters® story and about the successes working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Both were impressed with the quality of materials, low cost and how quickly Abōd Shelters® can be built. They were also impressed with the various ways they are being used. Abōd Shelters® have been built as homes, medical clinics, dormitories and schools. Both young architects look forward to taking what they learned back to their countries with the goal of making a difference.

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 sustainable housing using Abōd® Shelters through prayer, raising awareness and providing monetary support through partnership or become a Sponsor in 2016. For more information about ways to partner with us or becoming a sponsor, please mail your interest to ginny@abodshelters.com

Day 2 End ofThere 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 on AbodShelters.com or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Recipients Visit Abōd Shelters® at BSB Design’s Office
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New Partnership Blossoms: Abōd Shelters® Foundation and STEMM in Tanzania

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director Ginny@abodshelters.com

Abōd Shelters® Foundation Chairman, Doug Vander Weide, and his son JD recently returned from a trip where they met with the leaders of the Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM). They were also able to see firsthand the incredible service work the non-governmental organization (NGO), STEMM is doing for the children and families of Tanzania.

This tiny country’s claim to fame is its premier climbing destination for serious mountaineers, Mount Kilimanjaro. Composed of three volcanic cones, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and is the tallest freestanding volcano outside of South America.

STEMM’s story starts in 1966 in Sioux City, Iowa. The organization was founded by Dr. Steve Meyer following a life changing experience in Mainland China. In 1997 Dr. Meyer, with Reverend Jon Gerdts, Mike Bosse and Lazaro Nyalandu led a group of 10 Siouxland residents on their first trip to Tanzania. From that experience, Dr. Meyer and his wife Dana were inspired to find a means to provide ongoing assistance to the beautiful and desperate children of this African country.

STEMM was specifically created to develop a relational bridge between Siouxland and Tanzania by addressing the priorities of spiritual growth, medical care, and educational opportunities. In building this relationship, the overwhelming AIDS orphan crisis was one that was brought to the organization’s attention and remains an integral part of the STEMM ministry today.

Since inception, STEMM groups have traveled to Tanzania in January and July each year. As the demand grows, so have the number of people participating – over 500 people have made the trips so far. Over the last 12 years the mission has expanded from children’s educational and medical programs into health education, support for orphans and construction and operation of a STEMM Orphanage.

Doug Vander Weide went to Tanzania to experience the Siouxland program in action and to see the spirit of its purpose through the eyes of Dr. Meyer. Doug and JD flew to into the Kilimanjaro Region, home to Mount Kilimanjaro, where all of STEMM’s mission volunteers begin their journey.

After visiting Mount Kilimanjaro, father and son traveled on to STEMM and were given a tour of the facilities and met with the very competent and dedicated team members: Diane Bannister, Tanzania Director; Timothy Bannister, Agricultural Director; and Dr. Meyer.

Conversations led to STEMM’s desire to take advantage of the unique design benefits of Abōd Shelters® to expand the housing facilities around the orphanage.

They see great promise in the opportunity to expand into a large ‘Village of the Future’ in the future to house the growing number of volunteers, caregivers, teachers and needy children.

Abōd Shelters® are proven to be half the cost of traditional housing, are eighty percent faster to build and last a lifetime. Dr. Meyer and Doug Vander Weide believe by combining forces they can provide a better quality of life for a greater number of needy people and realize more value from every dollar donated to Abōd Shelters® Foundation.

The plan is to build two Abōd Shelters® ‘pods’ (see sketch of ideal pod layout as sketched by the STEMM team on the visit.) Plans are to deliver each pod in partnership with STEMM – which will include a mission trip team to build the Abōd Shelters®.

We commend Dr. Meyer, his wife Dana and their dedicated team for their passionate dedication to their work. They are making a difference.

This is a very exciting first step for both organizations.  We share similar values and together we can offer more and make a much bigger impact than we could otherwise independently.  Stay tuned for updates as the plans unfold. Perhaps you may wish to join us on this mission trip?

If you are interested in joining is uon a future missions, please reach out to Michelle@AbodShelters.com.

Please come back again for more news on the STEMM & Abod Shelters Partnership as it unfolds.


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.

New Partnership Blossoms: Abōd Shelters® Foundation and STEMM in Tanzania
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Foreign Aid: Helping or Hurting, Using a Targeted Approach

Michelle Rothfus Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

Michelle Rothfus, Project Coordinator Abōd® Shelters

In the United States alone, twenty different agencies currently manage foreign assistance programs for over 100 countries around the world.  According to ForeignAssistance.gov this support “furthers America’s foreign policy interests on issues from expanding free markets, combating extremism, ensuring stable democracies, addressing root causes of poverty while fostering global good will.”

Explore ForeignAssistance.gov to see how the US Government invests in countries around the world and how much is planned in foreign aid in 2017.

“Foreign aid must be viewed as an investment, not an expense… but when foreign aid is carefully guided and targeted at a specific issue, it can and must be effective.”  U.S. Representative Kay Granger (R-TX), Huffington Post, June 2011

Do you think the US is spending too much on foreign aid?Overestimate Graph

If you’re like many Americans, you’ve overestimated the percentage of the federal budget spent on foreign aid. The US spends less than 1% of the federal budget on foreign aid.Perceptions Graph

In fact, many countries spend much more than the US. Do you know how much your country spends on foreign aid? View the Aid Target Fact sheet below on what amounts have been given as aid from different countries.Aid Target Factsheet

The Great Escape book imageDo you believe the foreign aid that is provided helps or hurts the people in countries that it is intended for? According to Angus Deaton, a professor at Princeton who won the Nobel Prize for his diverse contributions to the study of consumer spending, “aid can distort political institutions and foster corruption.” He advocates for ways that don’t directly affect the country’s markets for example, developing more resources for malaria research or opening doors to more immigrants. His 2013 book, ‘The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality’ discuss these and additional ideas.

CHarles AbugreCharles Abugre, Regional Director of the UN Millennium Campaign based in Nairobi, believes that “Sharing is essential to maintain and protect the collective, and empathy is an essential value of what it is to be human.” He believes that foreign aid not only saves lives but helps to lessen suffering not just in the short term but in the long term. “International aid is the instrument by which this very human practice occurs in modern times across borders, and should ordinarily not be controversial. But it is — very much so.”

It is controversial and even though there are strong opinions on both sides, one thing can be agreed on: Targeted aid with specific objectives work much better when providing aid.

A world with less poverty is a world that is safer, more prosperous, and more fair.”  OXFAM America

Besides the foreign aid that governments budget for other countries, there are many Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) that target specific areas such as; food, housing, clothes, medicine and education. In fact, the NGO’s that Abod Shelters Partners with on projects have specific areas that they target.

3 COmpleted Girls DOrmsHoops of Hope focuses on raising money to reduce the AIDS epidemic. They were able to provide a machine in a remote area in Zambia that identifies how much medication an AIDS patient needs. Since installing this machine, hundreds of lives have been saved. They also focused their efforts on building a school in the same area. This school is the only secondary school in a 70-mile radius. It has over 500 students attending. Abod Shelters were built as dormitories to house the students and homes for teachers because they were much less costly and quicker to build than traditional housing.

a Use as MAIN Project photoActs 2 Collective work with locals in the communities they work in to identify what is needed. The areas typically identified are:

  • Farming and agriculture training so locals can grow their own food.
  • Orphan care for children without parents and providing the children a place to call home and helping with the adoption process.
  • Providing healthcare programs for pregnant women, safe child birthing and infant care, teaching smart health practices, providing HIV testing and treatment plans.
  • Providing basketball academies to engage young people and build relationships.
  • Building private schools and creating curriculums for existing schools and
  • Building water wells to provide access to safe drinking water.

Abod Shelters were built through Acts 2 Collective to be used as birthing and maternity centers and to provide homes to a local farm to house workers.

first.resident1Blessman Ministries focus on the practical needs of people in order to open the door to spiritual needs in South Africa. They not only provide wells for clean drinking water and meals to those in need but educate locals in many different areas and trades to help them build their own businesses or earn a living. Abod Shelters were built for several different projects; day schools for orphans, homes for grannies and the homeless children they care for, lodging for interns when doing rotations and a home for a family whose home was destroyed by a falling tree.

In every country all over the world there are housing needs. While the NGO’s that we partner with have specific target areas they work in along with established relationships and local resources in the area, there is typically a housing need of some sort where the traditional building structure is cost prohibited. Abod Shelters collaborates with NGO’s on housing needs and provides the solution. We look forward to working with even more NGO’s to help them reach their goals.

Day 2 End of

E-mail me with questions on how you can get involved. michelle@abodshelters.com

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.

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 on AbodShelters.com or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Foreign Aid: Helping or Hurting, Using a Targeted Approach
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Will Johnston on ‘Why Tiny Houses?’ and Metro Atlanta’s First Tiny House Festival

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shivedecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director
Ginny@abodshelters.com

As the idea of the Tiny House captures the imaginations of audiences with TV series like Tiny House Nation  and Tiny House, Big Living, we are discovering new organizations advocating this lifestyle choice popping up on the local level across America.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 11.36.27 AMI was contacted by one such non-governmental organization (NGO), Tiny House Atlantafounded by Will Johnston, Executive Director.

Will has an interesting story: He left a lucrative corporate job to heed a calling to do something with greater purpose. After much reflection, he realized his belief was so strong about tiny houses as a viable living solution especially for his generation of Millennials, that he founded Tiny House Atlanta.

The not-for-profit organization encourages home-ownership, particularly for those who are late entrants into home purchasing for many reasons – like the heavy debt they acquired for advanced education. Will believes the delay of home ownership is not to anyone’s advantage.

“Tiny House living is a great way to get started because it is both more affordable and manageable. The mission of Tiny House Atlanta as a non-profit is to advocate this lifestyle choice by educating and helping individuals, groups and cities embrace the tiny house movement and its positive effects on strengthening communities and aiding to create sustainable neighborhoods.” – Will Johnston, Executive Director, Tiny House Atlanta

tiny-houseIt has been wonderful to get to know Will and witness how his passion translates into action. Since founding his NGO he formed the Tiny House Atlanta Meetup Group community to foster conversation. The group meets regularly and has grown to be the largest Tiny House Meetup Group in the nation.

For Will bigger is not always better – small is a cooler, smarter way to go.

Abōd Shelters® is very interested in supporting efforts like these. BSB Design, the creators of Abōd Shelters®, envisioned the potential of tiny home living some eight years ago. The need for alternative housing options has arrived. We believe the emerging ‘Tiny Home’ lifestyle choice will continue to gain momentum and be adopted by many people from different walks of life.

Tiny House Atlanta Announces Its First-Ever Festival – The Decatur Tiny House Festival, July 30-31, 2016

tinyhouse_decatur_600_450081038Not happy to stop there, he is now taking his efforts to the next level. Will initiated and organized metro Atlanta’s first Tiny House Festival to help people learn how less space could mean more life.  The event is being launched in partnership with the City of Decatur, Georgia.

The event focuses on how micro housing can benefit individuals and communities in Georgia, and part of the proceeds will go to the Decatur Housing Initiatives Corporation, a non-profit dedicated to developing affordable housing in Decatur.

Decatur Tiny House Festival has several attractive offerings:

  • 10 to 15 houses that are 500 square feet or less will be on site and open for tours.
  • Experts will be available to answer questions and share information about sustainability, minimalism, urban planning, zoning, downsizing and more.
  • Speakers Symposium will help attendees learn about different areas in the industry.
  • Commercial Resources Show where various suppliers will be promoting their products and services.

For more information and to purchase tickets: https://www.freshtix.com/events/decatur-tiny-house-festival

tinyhousemovementWe wish Tiny House Atlanta great success at their inaugural event. If you live in the area or find yourself traveling to Atlanta during the festival, I’m certain Will would love to meet you. Perhaps I will see you there too!

Salute to Will Johnston, Executive Director Tiny House Atlanta! We look forward to a long partnership on various projects in the future that help your local community make a difference.

In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director

 

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.

Day 2 End ofYou 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 in 2016. 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 on AbodShelters.com or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Will Johnston on ‘Why Tiny Houses?’ and Metro Atlanta’s First Tiny House Festival
read more