Monday, March 30, 2015

Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg!

for inventing Facebook to help me to connect with charitable people around the world! (whether or not that was the intention doesn't matter). Here's what I mean.....

On Friday, I was looking around on Future Leader's Underprivileged Children's Center's Facebook page to find a picture of their vocational sewing center in Ghana. I wanted to send it to my friend, Karen. Karen Read is an expat from the UK, currently living in Virginia, and passionate about helping children in need.  We were heading down to the Eastern Market in Washington, DC to do some market research. We were looking for a venue to sell the cloth bags made by the mothers of the children at the children's center. We plan to use the proceeds to help the fund to build a school.


Here, some of the kids pose with the bags their mothers have made. The sewing center is in an old shipping container.  When I first visited, they were using the old black singer sewing machines our mothers used in the 1950's.  It is great to see some of the new sewing machines  my friends in America have donated . At the center the women learn a trade for free and then pass the knowledge on to others. They also  sew the school uniforms for the children and products to  raise money for the new school. 


While looking for that photo I ran across this one on the kids reading with the phonics books we sent last year. I thought that my friend Diane Angba might like to see it. Diane made a call to Manassas Schools back in 2013 to ask if they had any computers they could donate. They didn't have any computers but they did have books. - Oh my did they have books. We had to send them by container ship! Twice!


On Saturday morning, I posted this picture on Diane's Facebook page. By evening, I had a new team of friends contacting me on Facebook, who want to collect donations and even travel to Africa help too. Cheryl in Germany wants to start a donation drive and meet us in Africa. Traci, works for an airline and is going to look into options for flying to Ghana. Jeri, a children's art teacher in Canada, is going to collect art supplies and plan a class to teach and Karen is organizing a booth at the Eastern Market in DC to sell the products.

This is Karen with one of the bags at the Eastern Market. Several people commented on the bag and we think they will  be a big hit. We loved the market, the people, the energy, the vibe. It reminded me of fun times traveling in foreign countries.


Oh, and THEN on Sunday, I had "real time" Facebook chats with the director of the school in Kenya and the school in Ghana to discuss how we are going to help them. It used to be so difficult to communicate with my friends in Africa. It is amazing to be able to communicate real time. Now, we are really going to be able to make some great things happen for these children. 

So, Thanks Mark Zuckerberg for inventing Facebook so that I could connect my friends in the first world with my friend in third. I bet you could never have predicted THIS way back when you were a college school! Isn't it amazing?!

Oh and Thanks Keri Douglas my social media teacher at NOVA. Great class.



Friday, March 13, 2015

Recent article about show in Frederick, MD

I am sharing an article written by the owner of  505 North Gallery in Frederick, Maryland.
Thanks Kelly!

Frederick Loves Kralick's Colors                                March 2015
By Kelly Phebus
Meet Northern Virginia artist Adrienne Kralick – painter, teacher, global citizen. She has recently returned after a sabbatical to paint and focus on her charity organization, Painting Brighter Futures, which helps children living in under-served communities of the U.S. and Africa improve their lives through education. (More information at: www.PaintingBrighterFutures.com .)
Paintings of African women and children at 505 North Gallery.


Public response Kralick's works showing in Frederick at 505 North Gallery & Studio has been centered around the colorful scenes from Africa and the joy depicted in the faces of people in their daily routines. "I love to paint people, especially women and children… a woman walking to work is an ordinary scene… with a basket of fruit on her head and a baby on her back the scene becomes exotic to someone who lives in America. I love this juxtaposition; the beauty of everyday life in different cultures and countries."





This series of oil paintings on linen reflects an impressionistic style, which translates well to viewers as memories we may illuminate with our own experiences. For commissioned portraits, Adrienne Kralick has used a clean, accurate and clear style of painting, but says she has always loved the impressionists. Kralick studied the work of the Dutch and Flemish masters while living in Belgium, and learned even more as a museum copyist at the Art Institute of Chicago. Today her style combines a range of techniques from different time periods. (More information about the artist at: www.AdrienneArtist.com .)



How did you come to understand such a variety of painting techniques?
Years ago when I sought to find a way to learn how great artists accomplished what they did, it was difficult to find. There really aren't any classes called "Learn the Secrets of Rembrandt", well, not until I started teaching the. I started by creating my own education - by learning techniques from many different places, studying with artists I admired in the U.S. and in Europe, reading a ton of books and articles, copying masterpieces in the museum at the Art Institute of Chicago, studying originals up close and in person wherever I could all over the world. Now, I teach workshops and classes on the various techniques of different artists and genres. I even lead a tour of Monet's France in the summer of 2013.


Adrienne Kralick learning the techniques on Pompei Batoni
at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003.


When did you first begin to paint travel series?
I first began to travel when I met my husband Ken. He has always traveled for business and the trips have gotten further and more exotic over the years. When we moved to Europe in 1998, my youngest child started school and I set out to paint each day. At that time I also took tons of photos of things I wanted to paint. I am still painting from those photos in addition to capturing scenes from my recent travels.

How do you manage in more exotic or remote locations?
Adrienne in Egypt 2014
I was terrified the first time I flew by myself to Europe and I was afraid to leave the hotel by myself. Now, I have flown alone to places like Ghana and Dubai and I am perfectly content wandering the streets of a new city alone. I try to see every art museum and gallery I can in each place. However, if it is a dangerous place or the culture is difficult to navigate, I hire a local guide to take me around. It is a great way to get to know the culture and make new friends.


 

How did you become interested in helping under-privileged communities?

I have always looked for a way to give back and tried several avenues before I found the one that spoke right to my heart – the children of Africa. I was first inspired help these children while I was visiting my daughter who was spending a semester in Ghana, studying at the university and volunteering with Future Leaders Underprivileged Children's Center. I immediately fell in love with the children and I just had to find a way to help them. But what could I do? I was just an artist with a little studio/school in Great Falls, Virginia. So, I decided to donate the proceeds from the paintings I was doing of African scenes to help the center.


When people heard about the project, they started to bring me donations of clothes and school supplies to take back with me to Africa – and I went back 3 more times that year! It had a snowball effect. We have now sent two shipping containers loaded with: school books, school supplies, clothes, shoes, sports equipment, computer, office supplies, sewing machines  and more. We started a new computer lab with donated laptop computers and are planning to break ground on a new school soon. I am amazed at how this has grown. Painting Brighter Futures is now a non-profit organization helping children in Kenya, Ghana and here in the U.S.
In 2013, Adrienne helped start a computer lab in Ghana with donated lap top computers and learning games.

What advice can you give anyone who seeks to start a humanitarian effort as you have done?

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something and tell everyone your dreams. Someone might know someone who can help. Many people said I would never be able to get donations to Africa. But I did. I talked to practically everybody I met about what I was doing and eventually I met the right person who ships items to Africa. My network is still growing. Sometimes it takes two or three or four conversations with someone for them to hop on board. Now I have a band of volunteers having lots of fun, and shopping flea markets and garage sales for books and clothes for children in need.
The new computer in Kenya provided by Painting Brighter Futures. 

I recently spoke to a group of high school students living in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya. One girl (pictured right) asked me how they could get a computer – 800 children and not one working computer. Within a week we made it happen! I bought a computer and found someone who could take it with them back to Kenya. Word spread and a few other people have donated their old computers. It is amazing how many things we Americans have, collecting dust in our closets, that could change the lives of others.


What is next for Painting Brighter Futures?

Adrienne at Mogra Children's Rescue
orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya
I am having a fundraiser at Arlington's Gallery Underground in July and then I plan to take a group of volunteers back to Kenya in September. Each person will bring a suitcase full of diapers, pencils, computers and other donations for a school and orphanage in Mathare, Mogra Star Academy. While there, we will spend time helping care for the babies in the orphanage and help with projects at the school.


What is next for AdrienneArtist?
I am going to be teaching more art history and painting workshops. In March, I am teaching a workshop on the techniques of J.M.W. Turner at Artists on the Green in Great Falls, VA. I am looking for more venues to bring these classes and workshops to a larger audience.



I am also going to paint more mother and baby scenes. I recently created a quick painting of my daughter with a friend's baby. I enjoyed it so much and it has been getting such a great response. This one painting speaks to so many people: young and old, men and women. It really just flowed from my paint brush like nothing I have ever painted before.

 

Recent mother and child portrait.


 For more information on artist Adrienne Kralick and her non-profit organization visit www.AdrienneArtist.com and www.paintingbrighterfutures.com .

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Little things Do mean a lot!

Our friends at Future Leaders UCC in Ghana just posted pictures of these little reading and writing booklets sent in the last shipment. I am glad that the little booklets mean a lot to them and a little thing like seeing a photo of their smiling faces using the books means a lot to me. I am sharing this with everyone who helped me get the donations to Africa and to everyone who might want to help in the future. We can each do a small thing which can have a big!



 
I picked up these handwriting books at the Five Below store in Northern Virginia and here they are helping the kids At Future Leaders UCC Ghana learn to write.
On my first trip to Ghana there were no workbooks and I had to write letter dots on scraps of paper for the kids trace.
These phonics books were rescued from a pile about to go to the recycle bin at a public school in Manasas, Virginia.




Please consider doing a little thing today to help children living in desperate poverty in Ghana and Kenya. Buy a pack of pencils, crayons or writing booklets next time you are at the store. Or, make a donation via Paypal to help us purchase books and pay for shipping. Every little bit helps.

Thank you!




Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Path Appears opens a window to life in a Nairobi slum.

I watch A Path Appears last night and was brought back to Nairobi, Kenya.  Like Mia Farrow and Nicholas Kristoff, I drove down those crowded dirt roads. I walked those muddy paths and heard those beautiful children sing! What an honor it was to meet such brave and determined children. I was humbled by them. What do you say when a child sleeping on the floor of a one room shack, with 8 other people, no running water or electricity asks you what your greatest hardship is in life. I was speechless. How do I dare mention my trivial hardships, my "first world" problems, like: I am searching for more meaning in my life or I am lonely in my big empty house, while my husbands travels with his job and my children are away at University. I can't.

If you want to understand why I am determined to help, please watch Episode 3 of A Path Appears. Mia and Ronan Farrow visit Shining Hope for Communities, an organization working for change in Kibera, one of the worst slums in the country — and the world. Home to hundreds of thousands of people, Kibera is a neighbor slum to Mathare, where I visited Mogra Star Academy. Like Mathare, Kibera has limited power and running water. I am in awe of Kennedy Odede and his wife, Jessica Posner Odede who opened the Kibera School for Girls, which aims to provide the area’s most at-risk young girls with a path out of poverty and abuse. Kennedy reminds me of my friend Billa Mahmud in Teshie Ghana, who also grew up in the most difficult conditions only to dedicate his life to helping children like him live a better life. I have the most respect for people like them who are making a real difference in the world.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Some Highlights of 2014.



Big News .......in 2014 we became an official non profit organization! We joined the International Women’s Democracy Center (IWDC) a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with more than 15 years’experience developing and administering international projects and now can provide Tax ID information!  http://iwdc.org/


We got our first large donation from a foundation! Now we are well on the way to buying the land for a school for these children. Billa has friends like me in the UK, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands all trying to help! It is a small world after all. 
Now all of these children come to his center every day. Here they are
standing on the land where he plans to build a school.


Billa started teaching 5 kids under
this Mango tree in 1995.














Also in 2014, I traveled to Kenya and visited the Mogra orphanage and school, I was so impressed with them that I have added them to our network of worthy causes to help.


We sent a motor scooter to Future Leaders UCC in Teshie, Ghana.

Here I am giving Daniel the scooter to ship.. 
Billa will use the scooter to get around and visit the ladies 
who have received micro loans.



and found a wheel chair for Kwadwoa's sister in a village near Kumasi Ghana.


We sent pencils to the young children at Mogra Star Academy the Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya.


and a computer to for the students at Mogra Star Academy,

800 children attend school in the Nairobi slum and there was not One single computer. Now they have Two. I hope to find a generous computer company to donate enough for a computer class. That will really make a difference in the lives of these children. 


and diapers for the babies at the orphanage
.We collected sewing machines from friends for the vocational sewing center at Future Leaders.



Anne Marquis just kept showing up day
with more great stuff
.
Here women learn a trade for free and are required to pass it and empower other women in their community.

What started as one phone call to rescue textbooks from the recycle bin at a local elementary school grew and grew until my garage was packed full of donations bound for Africa. One schools trash is another schools treasure.


 It took a village (or a neighborhood) to get everything sorted boxed and delivered.
My neighbor Tom Smith loaned his truck.

During the summer our network of volunteers grew into a team of angels collecting donations.

Retired school teacher Marge Buzelli found school supplies.
Oakton teens helped sort through clothes.
Gail bought school supplies and sewing notions.




Before long I was getting calls from several Fairfax County public schools to pick up their lost and found items.
Carloads full at each school. Now I had more than I could use for the shipment to Africa so......

Light weight clothes went to Africa, Some coats went to The Closet in Reston, Virginia which helps needy families. Mof the warm coats went to help refugee families arriving from Darfur. It is pretty cold here in the winter compared to East Africa.


 Sameaia, pictured here,  even took some school supplies with her to a village school in Sudan. The network is growing and growing and growing!
TaDa...everything arrived safe and sound in West Africa!
I found these promotional back packs at a
school lost and found.
The kids in Ghana got them for awards. 
Here the sewing machines are getting a tune up before the
women at the sewing center put them to use.

More pictures to come! Boy this blogging takes time and there is so much to do.....Happy New Year!




If you would like to donate for a 2014 tax deduction, here is the paypal link or send a check to Painting Brighter Futures- IWDC at 3113 Fox Mill Rd, Oakton, Va 22124


 




Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The diapers arrive in Kenya


I just received word that my new charity, Mogra Children's Rescue has received the diapers and donations I just sent. Here's the story....
Me with the precious babies at Mogra Orphanage.
Two weeks ago, I joined my husband Ken on a business trip to Nairobi, Kenya; he was meeting with the phone company Airtel. Shortly after we arrived, we ran into some of his colleagues in the hotel lounge, where Ken brought up the idea that I was hoping to spend some time volunteering with a school or orphanage while there. Olga, an IBM expat from Columbia, living in Kenya, excitedly ran over to introduce me to her friend and neighbor Mark. Mark is an Australian expat working for Airtel. Mark had the perfect connection for me. It ends up that Airtel sponsors the food program at a school in the Mathare slum and Francis, Mark's partner, volunteers there. Olga was kind enough to include me in the dinner that night, so that Francis and I could meet and made a plan to go to Mogra school and orphanage the following day.

There was a traffic jam on the road which gave me time to take in the sights.

Francis and his driver David picked me up the next morning and we drove out to Mathare to visit the school Mogra Star Academy and then to the Mogra Orphange. There is so much to say about the meaningful experiences I had at the school; but for today, I will talk just about the orphanage visit. Which, by the way, Ken had lightheartedly had warned Francis against taking me to. He was afraid I would bring home a baby. He often reminds me that I can help more children if I don't adopt one. He knows how strong my maternal feelings can be.

As you can see from the pictures, I had a wonderful day with the babies. 

Francis prefers to work with teens and older children so it was a real gift to me, that he joined me in the nursery that day and then again, when I wanted to go back for a second day.

Before heading back to Mogra for the second visit, we stopped at a local store to buy diapers. Diapers are expensive in Kenya.  I don't know how the orphanage does it. It is funded only by the kindness of others. I made a mental note to get more diapers and baby clothes for Mogra when I got back to the US.

Poor Francis has to go shopping with me for diapers and wipes for the babies and sanitary pads for the teenage girls living at the orphanage, what a great guy!

David, Mark's driver put the boxes in the trunk. None of this would have been possible without him, and Francis and Mark! You guys all ROCK!


David even got in on the fun and played with the babies.


While at Mogra, I met Susan Armstrong, a nurse from the US embassy, who was teaching First Aid. I asked her is she had any ideas of how I could get donations back to Kenya from the US. She told me that her husband Russell, was in fact, going back to the US and may be able to help. When I got home I contacted Russell and we arranged a day to meet. Now that I had a deadline the wheels were set in motion.

I headed out to Costco to buy diapers. But first,  I stopped to drop off a thank you gift to the Keneficks, who had recently bought the wheelchair for a woman in Ghana. I was so excioted about my trip that I could not help but tell them all about the kids in Kenya. Judy then generously donated $100 to help buy the diapers, in her grandson Ian's name as part of his confirmation gift. This web of generosity is infectious. Not only, did they buy the wheelchair and donate the money but now they are helping the women in the wheelchair get physical therapy advice to help her transition to her new chair.
Diapers were a fraction of the cost at Costco than they were in Kenya. I tried to buy as much as I could while keeping the weight of my suitcase under 50 ponds per the airline specifications.

We keep old suitcases around just for this type of occasion. I filled as much as I could and even had a scinece poster left over to include from the last shipment to Ghana

 On Saturday morning Ken and I met Russell and his beautiful daughter at the Gaylord Hotel at The National Harbor. What a joy it was meeting this wonderful kind hearted family. They even helped nurse a baby from the orphanage back to health and are now in the process of adopting her.

 The girls who live at the children's home with the donations.

Here it is, our old suitcase full of diapers, back in the same room where I loved those sweet babies just two weeks ago. I love it when a plan comes together.

Look for a post to come about the new computer for the school!  Thank you so much to everyone who made this possible: the Armstrong family, Francis, David, Mark, Olga the Keneficks and my husband Ken.