Mama Hope: Mamas without Borders
Stephanie Moore, better known as Mama Hope, was the birth mother of Nyla Rodgers and the spiritual mother of many others. In 2006 when Mama Hope died of cancer, Nyla went to Africa to find the man her mother had sponsored. When Nyla traveled to Kenya she found that her mother had helped “hundreds of others.” Inspired by her mother’s work and impact Nyla founded the Mama Hope advocacy and activism group.

Made up of a group of 11 dedicated activists, Mama Hope works in 4 countries: Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Since their founding, they have completed 32 projects impacting over 100,000 people. Their projects “have addressed critical issues in agriculture and food security, water, health, education, shelter, women’s empowerment and the environment.”

Their approach to development involves three phases: “Listen to local communities”; “Connect funds through awareness”; and, “Enable sustainable projects.” They call this the Connected Development model. This model relies on identifying needs and solutions by first speaking with communities. Unlike a top-down approach, the community already has a self-identified stake in making the solution a reality.

Once the project is identified, Mama Hope pairs US donors with African community organizations and much-needed projects through the foundation’s framework. Donors include individuals, foundations, and corporations. Projects are promoted via social media to help build momentum. In the final stage, “Enable sustainable projects” rely entirely on local labor and materials. Each project is designed to create jobs and have a minimal environmental impact. Reliance on local knowledge, material and labor allows projects to be accomplished in an efficient and sustainable way. Because community members have ownership of the projects, the community members become stakeholders in the success of each project.

True to the roots of Mama Hope, the “Stop the Pity Movement” stresses that the world should be seen through “hope and connection.” Hope and connection are believed to be the foundations of making sustainable change—by seeing the potential and resilience of the human spirit. African women in one of the project villages were asked to make a video about themselves. Did they make a video about their burdens such as poverty or sadness? No. They made a video about something they love: Netball. They experience poverty and sadness in ways most Americans will never know, but they are more than their poverty and sadness. They are resilient humans that live and love and laugh as well as carry their heavy burdens. Mama Hope not only gives them hope, but it also gives everyone who is working towards a better world hope by allowing us to see that good work and measurable success is being achieved.

Katherine Zobre

Source: Mama Hope

A campaign called “Stop the Pity,” launched at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, is sending the message to stop stereotyping Africa as being poor, helpless, and ravaged by famine and poverty. The campaign was founded by a nonprofit called Mama Hope with the mission of re-humanizing Africa, celebrating positive change rather than focusing on inequality.

A series of videos have been released by Mama Hope tearing away the stereotype that depicts Africans as “one-dimensional victims” and in its place, highlights the traits that makes us all human. One video shows African women playing netball, a cross between basketball and ultimate Frisbee. Another shows men joking about how Hollywood tends to portray Africans as the typical villain, firing guns, loving violence and making scary faces. In yet another, a child tells the story of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

Mama Hope works in four countries, managing 32 projects and starting up orphanages, improving sanitation, and reducing poverty. Founder and “chief visionary” of Mama Hope Nyla Rodgers emphasizes the need to empower rather than victimize Africans, using inspiration rather than guilt to get people to help. Reframing the way the rest of the world thinks of Africa, Rodgers hopes people will “stop the pity” and “unlock the potential.”

“We have to have partnership instead of pity,” said Rodgers. “Partnership doesn’t include pity. It includes seeing people as equals and being able to work with them on an equal partnership.”

– Rafael Panlilio

Sources: CNNMama HopeStop The Pity