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On our first full day in Tanzania, we had breakfast and a briefing at Moivaro Lodge, our home for the first two nights of the trip, and then we all piled into a bus for our day at Shanga & Riverhouse, about 20 minutes away.

Kindness About Shanga:

Set under the towering Acacia trees of Tanzania, East Africa, Shanga is a heartwarming project dedicated to supporting and empowering disabled community members. With breaking down obstacles for disabled Tanzanians and a commitment to environmentally sustainable business practises as its core values, Shanga is a for-profit company that raises standards. Now comprised of a bustling workshop, open-air restaurant, and three trendy boutiques, Shanga has grown exponentially from what started with one beaded necklace and a desire to help those in need.

Shanga is simply amazing. People with disabilities, some who might otherwise be tossed away or ignored by society, are empowered through art, and they make some beautiful things on-site using recycled materials. Trash is a big problem in Tanzania; people burn it, and there was plenty along the side of the road, so being able to channel that trash into beautiful merchandise goes a long way in keeping this beautiful country clean.

Before we took a tour at Shanga, we had a sign language lesson where we also learned some Swahili words. Our lesson was held on a sprawling lawn on pink and green couches made from old beds. It was a stunning, festive space, and we had a great time learning and laughing.

 

Shanga and River House After our lesson we toured Shanga’s art workshop areas and got to meet some of the artisans behind the glassware, beads, paintings, and fabrics for sale in the store.  Our guide Paul was kind and fun, and he really showed pride in the people working with him.

craft demonstration

recycled glass As we wound our way through Shanga, we marveled at beautiful decor like walls of recycled wine bottles that magnified the warm light and made a lovely noise when gently moved.

beads

Shanga Tanzania Shanga has people making beaded jewelry and cloth from recycled materials. We all fell in love with stuffed elephants made from mens’ shirts. I think we bought most of their supply for kids in our lives.

colorful cloth

weaving There was so much talent, pride, and focus in the artists at Shanga, and it was fun to watch them work.

Shanga and River House At the end of our tour, we had time to check out the on-site restaurant, which was to die for. I want to go back and have another wedding there.

River House

We left Shanga with hand blown glass Champagne flutes, stuffed elephants, and a beaded Christmas ornament to remind us of our travels, along with a major respect for the people living and working at Shanga. It was well worth the trip and an enchanting place to spend the day.

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Tags: Africa, art, charity, Tanzania, Travel, travel blog, Travel Tuesday

One of the things that I hate most about winter is the worry that it is so, so difficult for so many people and animals. Ask my husband, I truly do lay awake at night worrying about the cats outside, kids without coats, and most importantly, the homeless. And while we are active in charities we support throughout the year, I feel like winters like this leave almost a helpless feeling at times. There seems to be SO MUCH need. Where do we even start?

When I saw Hadley’s Urban Grape blog post the other day, I thought it was the perfect place. The Urban Grape stores are more than just wine stores; they are places that so many Bostonians have come to love over the years because of the beautiful spaces, events, and people.

The blog post introduced me to the Old South Church’s Boston Warm. The Old South Church is a place where, whenever nearby, I have found peace and welcome, especially in the weeks that followed the Boston Marathon bombing. It is warmth, and it has opened its doors to people who need it most during this awful winter. In addition to providing day shelter, they are collecting items for people in need. You can visit their Amazon wish list here.

The Urban Grape is getting involved and giving you even more incentive to visit their stores this weekend.

From their blog post:

From Thursday to Sunday of this week, we will be collecting donation items for #BostonWarm at both of our stores. If you bring a donation in during this time, you will receive 10% off beer and spirits purchases (no minimum or maximum) and bottles of wine, or 20% off cases of wine (12 bottles of wine). Applies to in-stock items only.

Donations include:
- Non-perishable food. Canned items must be in pop-top lids.
- Warm hats, scarves, mittens, gloves and socks. No other clothing items please (they cannot store them on the other side)
- $43 checks made out to City Mission Society with Boston Warm in the memo line. This is to rent storage lockers where the homeless can store their items.

Let’s continue to show the world that we are a community who takes care of one another, even when it seems like everything is going wrong around us.

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Tags: Boston, charity, community

Brunch is one of my favorite meals, and going out for brunch in Boston this weekend is a must. The Greater Boston Food Bank Super Hunger Brunch is a huge event that provides much-needed funds to feed the hungry in the Boston area.

Super Hunger Brunch

On January 24 and 25, 2015, participating restaurants are donating their time and services to host brunch with proceeds benefiting GBFB. Although online gift certificate sales are closed, you can still Brunch for a Cause by making a reservation at the restaurant of your choice and pay at the time of your visit. Every $1 spent provides 3 meals to those in need in eastern Massachusetts. Below is the list of participating restaurants and their contact info!

Participating Restaurants – Saturday, January 24

Participating Restaurants – Sunday, January 25

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Tags: Boston, brunch, charity, weekends

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