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Another way for you to make a difference…

Art news from our nonprofit. So proud of our students and staff. Click through to see the artwork!

Future Hope Africa Blog

Our in country director, Bintu, is always on the lookout for ways to improve the education of children, youth and adults in Bukavu, DR Congo. When she visited our home in Holland last year, we took her on a tour of the first-class international school our sons attend. Most of the decor in the school is student art blown up on huge canvases or framed originals. An idea was born.

An American artist friend here heard about our education center and asked, “What about art supplies? Could you use those?”

“Yes!” A generous gift of two stacks of stretched canvases went into my suitcase my next Congo visit, and now you can see some of the results. Small but delightful, these pieces are featured at our center to tell the world how proud we are of our students, the team that supports them, and how a little goes a long…

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Muhammad Ali Philanthropy and Me #MuhammadAli #GOAT #ALI

Ali quote Make the days countThe moment I saw the news, I knew I would have to write about Ali, about our connections however tenuous. At first it was impossible to put my thoughts together. All week long news feeds, photos, quotes, and videos about him drew me away from whatever else I was working on. My last post about the connections I keep seeing between world events and my life was in my mind (Inside the UCLA Shooting).

When as a child I heard Muhammad Ali say he was “The Greatest” I believed him. Why wouldn’t I? My Mom and Dad, two of the greatest people I knew, were both born and raised in Louisville. My grandmothers both lived there where I spent numerous holidays and weeks of summer vacations. My brother watched Ali’s fights, rooting for the most famous of Louisville’s favored sons. Great people came from Louisville. Why not the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time)?

Born January 17, 1942, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was 13 months older than my father. I grew up thinking they attended the same school, or that perhaps my grandmother, a local teacher, taught young Cassius who didn’t change his name till 1964. As it turns out, I was wrong on both counts. My youthful imagination already made stories. Until hearing about Ali, it had never occurred to me that you could change your name to anything you wanted. To me that was pretty darn cool. Despite my youthful error, there are a couple of connections.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 10.49.18 AMAngry about a stolen bike, Cassius ran into a local gym where cops worked out. Telling Sergeant Joe Martin how he wanted to whip the thief, Martin told the 86 pound 12-year-old that he should learn how to fight first, and Martin became his first trainer taking him up to his Golden Gloves days when my father first hear of him. Since my grandfather was the superintendent of the traffic division, he was Officer Martin’s supervisor at some point earlier in his law enforcement career.

Hearing this story I had to wonder, was this the kind of encounter a black youth in 1954 expected to have in a gym full of cops? Kentucky is a mid-southern state, and Louisville was its largest city. Experience in Europe has shown me that some Europeans think the movie “Selma” represents what all of America was like in 1965. Obviously that’s not so, even if Americans of subsequent generations think pretty much the same thing. Consider Louisville in 1957 as my father described it:

Certainly, I remember the news coverage, and the brutality of the Alabama police, but south Alabama is so far removed from Kentucky, and I don’t mean just in road distance: I mean culturally as well….In Louisville…the schools were desegregated in 1957 without incident (to my knowledge).  I was in the seventh grade at Shawnee Junior High, and the integration of black kids into our classes, lunchrooms, and gym were a non event.

15-year-old Cassius must have had a slightly different experience of racism from those raised in the deep south. Certainly whites-only restaurants persisted, like the one Ali was turned away from not long after returning home with his 1960 Olympic gold medal. (He said the medal was lost and not thrown into the Ohio River in anger, debunking an oft-repeated urban legend).

Outside the ring, Ali’s refusal to submit to the Vietnam draft was one of the biggest news stories of his young career. My father remembers, “He and I both had to appear for our draft physical on the same day. The only difference was that I was standing in line with fifty or sixty other guys in our underwear waiting to see the doctor, when he came down the hall with his attorney, and went right in. He was already famous by then.” Gee, I hope they didn’t interrupts anybody…coughing.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.13.04 PMThe coverage of Ali’s boxing career and rise to fame was everywhere on the web this last week. What strikes me, though, is what he did with that fame and admiration. Certainly he used it in the civil rights movement. Some speculate that it was his first trip to Africa that opened his eyes to his larger world-wide influence. His “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman in Kinshasa (where we adopted our younger sons) is humorously titled in my opinion when I think of how large the city was even at that time. He road through the streets sitting behind the sunroof of a slow-moving vehicle, hands stretching out to meet the thousands reaching for him. That I cannot relate to.

However, I know what it’s like for Africa to open your heart, take a piece, and never return it. Co-founding Future Hope Africa in the DR Congo and sponsoring two Ethiopian children’s education and welfare through Compassion International are two of the ways I answered the call to make a difference.

Ali answered a call as well, and I wish there was more information on Muhammad Ali’s philanthropy work being tagged and shared. That is perhaps where his greatest legacy remains. In his retirement, Ali devoted much of his time to philanthropy. Over the years he supported the Special Olympics and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, among other organizations. He traveled to numerous countries, including Mexico and Morocco, to help those in need.Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.14.56 PM

Mr. Ali first came to the UN in 1978 to address the UN Special Committee against Apartheid with a message of peace and spirituality. He brings people from all races together by preaching “healing” to everyone irrespective of race, religion or age. Over the years Mr. Ali has been a relentless advocate for people in need and a significant humanitarian actor in the developing world, supporting relief and development initiatives and hand-delivering food and medical supplies to hospitals, street children and orphanages in Africa and Asia. (From Ali’s “United Nations Messenger of Peace” page)

Muhammad Ali became an ambassador for peace beginning in 1985, when he flew to Lebanon to secure the release of four hostages. Ali also has made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea; delivered over $1 million in medical aid to Cuba; traveled to Iraq to secure the release of 15 United States hostages during the first Gulf War; and journeyed to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison.(Look To the Stars)

Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox

Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox

When Ali announced in 1984 that he had Parkinson’s disease, he entered another fight. You may remember that Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed in 1991, did a series of commercials with Ali that juxtaposed the big man and the small both working toward a cure. That’s the video I’d like to share with you. Living in Arizona, Ali also raised funds for Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix. Fox called Ali “a peaceful warrior.”

In 2005, Ali received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. He also opened the Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, that same year. “I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given,” he said. “Many fans wanted to build a museum to acknowledge my achievements. I wanted more than a building to house my memorabilia. I wanted a place that would inspire people to be the best that they could be at whatever they chose to do, and to encourage them to be respectful of one another.”

About a week and half ago I was browsing the sports section of our international school library in The Netherlands picking out books for my children to read this summer. A few days later we woke to the news that Muhammad Ali had died. “I just brought a biography home for the kids to read about him,” I said. My husband responded to my angst with, “You didn’t kill him by checking out that book.” What a coincidence though.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.22.50 PMMany of my cousins still live in Louisville, and they took their children to stand along the funeral route Friday and then posted photos of the historical procession to Facebook. Muhammad Ali is buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill National Cemetery, a last crossroads for us.

In college I remember navigating the 296-acre cemetery, taking lefts at most forks in the narrow road till I reached a right-hand turn near the brick, back wall. From that winding bit of pavement, I spotted my grandmother’s stone, stopped the car, and laid flowers before wandering to look for nearby relatives.

Perhaps the next time I visit I’ll wander a bit farther, see the grotto, take my children to feed the ducks at the pond, and pay my respects at the grave of Muhammad Ali. I will tell them how he was much more than a boxer, how he fought for the rights of himself and others, how he used his fame to help poor and oppressed people around the world, and how The Greatest defined being great.

During his boxing days Ali said, “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” It’s one of his most famous quotes. I like this other one better myself.  Hana Ali repeated these oft spoken words of her father.

“Nothing makes us greater than the next person but the heart. If you want to be greater than someone than you have to have a great heart.” –Muhammad Ali

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Kristin King is a native of Kentucky, an author, and co-founder of Future Hope Africa. She is working on her third novel and closely monitoring the crowdfundraiser her nonprofit is running for Vacation Bible School in the Congo where for a limited time your gift will be doubled! She encourages others to “answer your call” whatever it may be.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2016 in In The News, Moments

 

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Public Transport – Spotted in Africa

Public transport in Africa is fairly diverse. These were just some of the options spotted in East Congo during my trip to our educational mission. Hop on a cargo truck, take a ferry up Lake Kivu, pay the man hanging out of the white bus window, or get through traffic the quickest on the back of a moped. I confess the only one of these options I sampled was the white bus.IMG_0769IMG_0813 IMG_0809

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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Our Princesses in Congo

Our Princesses in Congo

Beyond #AtoZChallenge – Back to Africa

I couldn’t locate these photos when I blogged about our young ladies in “P is for Princess” but I still wanted to share these terrific gals who are part of our mentoring club or school sponsorship in East Congo. Our nonprofit, Future Hope Africa has already made a brighter day working together with these students. –Dr. Kristin King, President and Chief Hugger for FHA.

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Some of the FHA Princesses who are continuing their education thanks to sponsorship.

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Two students whose friendship was torn apart in the past and then reconciled in the Club Princesses. Their testimony will be coming to a new Future Hope Africa youtube channel in the future.

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A young woman who was forced to end her schooling a number of years ago, but she is now learning the trade of tailoring thanks to sponsors through Future Hope Africa.

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God’s Princesses are never too young to find they are welcome at FHA’s Education Center in East Congo.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Other

 

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T is for Tailor in Africa

(#AtoZChallenge April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Our hosts' daughter was coming home from a wedding the day we arrived. Wow!

Our hosts’ daughter was coming home from a wedding the day we arrived. Wow!

One of the most delightful souvenirs you can bring back from the Congo is a new outfit. Choose from hundreds of fabric options at the textile market. Then visit the tailor and choose from hundreds of dress styles. Mix and match skirts with tops. Bring a shirt you like the fit of and have the tailor make you another in fabric of your choice.

My favorite outfit from DR Congo.

My favorite outfit from DR Congo.

When picked up our younger sons a few years ago, we had matching shirts made for all the guys and a coordinating skirt for me. The family picture we took that year is the one from which I cropped my head-shot for all social media. Talk about a terrific Christmas card photo!

Tailoring is also big business in a culture where special events like weddings, anniversaries and honoring fests may see every member of the family getting the same fabric and having an outfit made for the gala. Seriously–sometimes there might be a 100+ people getting things made for the big event.

 

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

Forced to quit school years ago, this young woman is now training to be a tailor thanks to sponsors through Future Hope Africa.

Forced to quit school years ago, this young woman is now training to be a tailor thanks to sponsors through Future Hope Africa.

A shot of just one booth at the fabric market.

A shot of just one booth at the fabric market.

 
 

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R is for Rwanda vs. DR Congo

Driving through Nyungwe Forest National Park on the best road I've ever seen in Africa.

Driving through Nyungwe Forest National Park on the best road I’ve ever seen in Africa.

#AtoZChallenge  April 2015 – Back to Africa

The journey to our educational mission in East Congo is six hours long–six hours driving through Rwanda. So even though the Democratic Republic of the Congo is our destination, most of my sight-seeing is in another African nation. Initially I think this is great.

We named our organization Future Hope Africa, not Future Hope Congo for a reason. The Hope we represent does not recognize national boundaries. On my first trip to the Congo to meet my new sons, friends told us that the DRC is not only physically in the heart of Africa. “As it goes in the Congo, so it goes in all Africa,” they said.

On this trip, I’ve landed not in the heart but in the left lung, where people breathe easier.

Rwanda seems bursting with hope. Everywhere is construction–roads and homes and businesses–building today for tomorrow, even in the mountains, this “Switzerland of Africa” they call it. Terraced hillsides full of agriculture line the roads as far as the eye can see, except in the national park.

I see all this cultivation and I am jealous for my Congo, where the mountains grow rebels. Why are these nations so different?

Perhaps when a country rises from depths, from times so bad–not bad–no, evil–such that the whole country must wake up and say “We are better than that. That is not who we are. That will not be our legacy for our children’s children.” Then one voice joins as the nation.

And the world? When the shame of the world that looked the other way as Hutu’s murdered Tutsi’s and even moderate Hutu’s by the hundreds of thousands finally moves from guilt to action, the world doing what it can where the conflict originated–perhaps that makes the difference. Perhaps it makes the work easier in a country where the lingua franca is English?

Like Future Hope Africa on our page (linked here).

Like Future Hope Africa on our page (linked here).

It is never too little too late when people hope for a better tomorrow. –Dr. Kristin King

Despite the work of the Panzi Foundation, the Oscar nominated documentary “Virunga” and the world’s notice of Dr. Denis Mukwege (“The Man Who Mends Women” ), most of the world’s blind eye is now for the leftovers from that very genocide. The rebels in the East Congo mountains, the atrocities continue, the families torn asunder.

My heart is broken.

Tears roll down my cheeks in the mountains of Rwanda.

What must our driver, Papa Justin, think of this strange white woman who takes so many photos, scribbles notes constantly, asks about the flora, and warns (via translation) she will scream with delight if she sees a monkey–what must he think as she sits beside him and weeps fat tears that drip to her shirt?

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 
 

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N is for Nutrition – What I Ate in Africa

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Congo Dinner

White ugali, fresh mikeke fish with onions and peppers, green peas, and fried plantains.

In two weeks we eat a lot without really noting what all the meals are–unless you’re traveling in Africa. Then, if you’re like me, you take photos of almost every meal. Later I think, Wow. I ate so much, and so much better than I do at home. Nutritious greens, fresh meat, onions, peppers–the list goes on and on. Our hosts took great care of our mission team.

Since you probably don’t want to see every meal, this post is more of an overview. The hot water carafe greeted me every morning, the largest such I’ve ever seen or used outside a hotel. Seriously, the carafe is about 18 inches tall seems to keep the water piping. I want to take one home.From there

Lunch on the go--we select a stick of roasted goat and corn on the cob.

Lunch on the go–we select a stick of roasted goat and corn on the cob.

breakfast includes bread sliced from round loaves, or rectangular, peanut butter to spread, maybe a little sweet white cream spread (the nutella like stuff went quickly with the children in-house for the holiday). Some days we have an egg scramble, once with a local hot sausage (sliced like tiny pepperoni) or other times with East Congo cheese from Goma. Left overs from dinner the night before were often set out a well.

Beignets were a special treat for someone like me who, being from the South (USA), appreciates anything deep-fried. And if it’s sweet, even better! I teased my non-sweet-toothed friend that they just needed some Krispy Kreme icing–when in fact they were so perfect the way they were that I dedicated another entire blog to my Beignet Diet (here.)

Usually, though, the staple starches are fried plantain bananas and ugali. Plantains are not a sweet fruit like I typically think of for a banana. These are dense, similar to potatoes that must be cooked to be eaten. The ugali (which means “dough” in Swahili) is a fine ground cassava flour boiled in water to a thick paste which could be shaped when hot and hold form.

To me ugali has little flavor, which is fine since we eat it with a bite of spiced greens or well seasoned fish, goat or other meat. This dough is dear to me because I remember my youngest sons gobbling it up when we adopted them in Kinshasa. They are the reason I know that in Lingala (another national language, more common to south DRC and the capital) this food is called foo-foo.

Snack bag of the red peanuts, round and about half the size of their cocktail cousins.

Snack bag of the red peanuts, round and about half the size of their cocktail cousins.

The greens are made from so many different plant leaves, I have a hard time keeping up. Chopped onions seems to be cooked in, but there is one special ingredient I begin to recognize from sight. If I see it in the greens, I know these will be ones I like better. “What is the tiny kernel?” I ask. Turns out my favorite flavoring is coarse ground peanuts–the local variety that is a red nut and quite small to begin.

Seeing that we eat most everything with gusto, our hosts diversify and purchase vegetables we’ve never seen before. Life on the lake also means lots of fish, and we even have fresh tilapia one day. “I know that one,” I say. Even more familiar, though, is chicken, but I avoid the area where feathers are plucked.

A few of our Princesses come by the house one evening after a youth dinner and see me eating a bit of ugali with a bite of greens. To Bintu they exclaim, “She eats _____.”

“She seems to like it.”

“It is so strange.”

Creamed mushrooms, thin-sliced steak, and boiled potatoes with herbs

Creamed mushrooms, thin-sliced steak, and boiled potatoes with herbs

Bintu explains to me what they are saying and says back to them, “Yes, of course she eats this. I told you, she is my sister!”

They are all so animated, I blush. How glad I am to be caught eating local though those weren’t my favorite greens. Even a meal of something different can be both an adventure and a blessing.

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Roasted meat (?), rice and quartered "egg plant" which was green and the size of a fig.

Roasted meat (?), rice and quartered “egg plant” which was green and the size of a fig.

 

Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 
 

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