Dear Friends,

In January, we reached a special milestone: we turned two years old!

In just two years, we've powered up educational, skills-building, trauma healing, and safe infrastructure projects in 5 countries, serving over 300 amazing women, children, and young adults - giving them tools to heal, learn, grow, and eventually become self-dependent leaders of their communities.  

We couldn't have done any of this without YOU. So, a big thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  Your passion, dedication, and vision for global humanity continues to inspire us every day.  

We hope you are as proud as we are of all we've accomplished together.

With Gratitude,

The Gracias Foundation

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Edition: Spring 2014

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Happy Second Birthday!

In January 2012, The Gracias Foundation was born, founded by a small group of global citizens committed to empowering local leaders with tools to help their own communities.

Like any new baby, we started small, with a few donations, a lot of passion, and a community of friends cheering us on.

Today, we're jumping for joy at how far we've come. Thanks to your support, we've more than tripled in size over the last year, creating a ripple effect that impacts countless supporters, changemakers, and women, children and young people around the world.


Toys & Tots in South Africa

Thanks to the generosity of LEGO Foundation, the Jelly Tots of Imizamo Yethu township have bins full of toy blocks, cars, airplanes, and little people for endless imaginative play, learning, and fun!

However, these bricks are more than just toys. As our LEGO grant award letter explains, these building systems:

"enhance group activities and provide an opportunity to promote emotional intelligence as well as problem solving skills and social skills."

So, a big shout out to LEGO and to Ashley Newell who transported the goodies from California to Cape Town and took gorgeous photos like this one.

Check out more fun photos!

Photo courtesy of Ashley Newell Photography

2nd annual student volunteer program in Kenya

In April, 11th graders, Jack and Michael from the International School of Berne (Switzerland), will travel to Kenya with co-founders, Amy and Andy, for a week-long cultural learning experience at the Maisha children's home. 

The students will cook and clean for 30 people, tend to farm animals, help with art and educational projects, learn about grassroots development and the sweeping impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and get a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of semi-rural life in Kenya.

And, if they're lucky (?), they'll even help slaughter a goat or chicken for a big celebratory feast with the Maisha family. 

Follow our Facebook page for daily updates of our adventures!

Read about Jack's impressions of
his first trip to Maisha in 2013



It takes a village to build a home

It's hard to believe that 25 people can fit into the 11 beds at Maisha, once a single family house converted into a children's home in 2009 when Mama Maisha opened her doors to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

They can't fit, actually. The poorly-built house is bursting at the seams with kids now turning into young adults. So, four of them have moved into a metal shack outside.

Construction of a 5-bedroom Maisha home is expected to start this year and we need your help: with nearly $60k left to fund, we're challenging family and friends to sign up for a 5k race, host a dinner party, pledge a birthday, and save that spare change! Click here for more fundraising help and inspiration!

We've proven that it only takes one person to create a ripple of change for an entire community. So join us in creating a ripple effect for the inspiring Maisha family, for the next generation of Maisha scholars, and for ourselves!

1 of 3 toilets at Maisha; this shack sleeps 4

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Protecting identities: why it matters

We are serious about protecting the safety and security of our most vulnerable women and children - sometimes using fake names, stock images, and blurring or covering faces.  

Some of the kids carry the intense weight of secrets they can't reveal to their classmates:  
  1. They are orphans.
  2. They are HIV positive.  
Some of them make up stories about who they live with.  Some of them never get close enough to make real friends outside of their homes. Read more...


Exciting times ahead!

Psst! Did you hear? Big changes are coming soon. Stay tuned for the exciting announcements!

In the meantime, thank you again for joining us on this beautiful journey of joy, hope, discovery, and inspiration. Our deepest gratitude to you...

The two most important days in your life are the day you were born,
and the day you find out why.

~ Mark Twain

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