Special Events

Get Involved!: Dare Me For Charity Presents a Whole New Approach to Fundraising

Are you looking for a new, fun way to get involved with GBA this summer? Dare Me For Charity just may be the event for you! Dare Me For Charity is a reality television show that is sweeping across the US this summer. It’s ushering in a whole new way to think about how we can support our favorite nonprofits.

Dare Me For Charity shows that any asset you have—even if it’s a love of rollercoasters and adrenaline rushes—can make a huge difference for an organization in your community. The goal of the show is this: to connect nonprofits and their supporters in order to raise money through extreme (but safe!) obstacles and jumps.

Participants in Dare Me For Charity's events literally jump from higher and higher heights for their charity of choice. Teams will have multiple opportunities to perform in challenges for their organizations, all while raising awareness about the organization on national television.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a part of GBA’s Dare Me for Charity team?

For more information, check out the main website (http://dareme4charity.com/) and the Indy event site (http://dareme4charity.com/campaign/list/city/23).

Dare Me For Charity is coming to Indianapolis on Fridauy, July 25th. A fifteen-dollar registration fee gets you three jumps for GBA!

If you're interested, be sure to register before space fills up! We’d love to see families, students—anyone—come out for this unique and charitable event!

"Beta Histoire: I Want to Tell a Story" Event Brings Together Friends Both New and Old to Support GBA

  By all measures of the word, “Beta Histoire: I Want to Tell a Story” was a success. Not only did the event display thoughtful artwork, but it also highlighted a universal drive—the drive and passion to share perspectives.

A sampling of the photos displayed at the event, submitted by students in Monroe County and DRC

When we express ourselves, whether it be through art, sport, everyday life routines, or any other medium, we project part of our story out into the world—where it then collides with millions of others. The “Beta Histoire” event and gallery seek to remind us that, in spite of our long days, embarrassing moments, and miles ahead to go, every story is beautiful, and every story is part of the larger picture of humanity. For though it is critical to acknowledge and work with our differences, it is equally imperative to celebrate our commonalities.

This event connected students from GBASA, the GBA Board, staff, and volunteers, supporters, students and families in Monroe County and DR Congo, educators, advocates, and friends for the purpose of honoring the talents and views of young people. Patrick O’Meara gave a moving speech about the “ripple effects” of even the smallest positive actions. GBA Co-founder Ann Marie Thomson and Executive Director Dena Hawes also spoke. Attendees were invited to share their “story” on a fabric square. These will be turned into a quilt. Over $2oo was raised to support GBA!

GBA co-founder Ann Marie Thomson speaks at the event

The message of the night is clear: when we come to understand our common ground, we understand the enormous reach and potential we have—not just as a nonprofit organization in Bloomington, Indiana, but as a community-shaping partner both here and abroad. With our combined passions, resources, and action, we continue to ripple the positive impacts of education and service leadership into all harbors.

Sometimes all we need to remind us of the simple joy of being part of the human family is a great story told by a willing imagination.

Thank you for your stories.


Giving Back to Africa would like to thank the Giving Back to Africa Student Association for its efforts, as well as the IU Art Museum, Patrick O’Meara, Fogarty and Friends Trio, and everyone who participated in the event.

If you’d like to learn more about GBA and our events, please follow us on Twitter @GBAfrica or connect with us on Facebook.

Also, keep an eye out for information regarding our upcoming annual gala. Details will be announced soon.


Photos courtesy of David Crosman 

You're Invited to the "Beta Histoire: I Want to Tell a Story" Kickoff

You are invited to come and celebrate the threads that tie us all together! GBA and the GBA Student Association has partnered with the IU Art Museum to showcase student photography from both the Democratic Republic of Congo and Monroe County students. The exhibit, “Beta Histoire: I Want to Tell a Story,” brings together art from home and abroad in order to share the stories of all kinds of young lives and to help young artists to foster their talents and explore international perspectives. The exhibit kickoff is on Thursday April 3rd from 6-8 p.m. at the IU Art Museum. The evening will include guest speaker VP Emeritus Patrick O’Meara and musical guests jazz group Fogarty and Friends Trio. We will also have DRC-inspired items and prints of the students’ photos available for a suggested donation.

Please join us!


For more information, see the Giving Back to Africa Student Association Facebook page-- http://ow.ly/uD8fm


 WHO: Giving Back to Africa and you!

WHAT: Exhibit opening for “Beta Histoire: I Want to Tell a Story”

WHEN: Thursday, April 3rd, 6-8 p.m.

WHERE: IU Art Museum

WHY: To celebrate the artistic expression of youth in DRC and Monroe County and to lift up their shared experiences 

The Noyau Field Trip and Angel’s Garden

The teachers at Centre Salisa who are learning the value of project-based learning through Giving Back to Africa’s process curriculum model call themselves the Noyau ('kernel' in French).  This phrase evokes the image of a seed that, when planted, will yield fruit. This is what Giving Back to Africa is doing – planting – and this year, the Noyau teachers (5th – 9th grades) and their students are benefiting from the fruit of knowledge they have gained about nutrition.  They have just completed 4 of the 5 lessons on nutrition and the Noyau are preparing to teach Lesson 5 soon, which is all about  helping their students apply their new found knowledge on nutrition to make a difference in their community of Mpasa. The teachers must start small and right where they are

In preparation for teaching lesson 5, the Noyau took a field trip this Saturday with Dr. Jerry, Giving Back to Africa’s Program Director.  They visited a large farm with gardens, a fishery, and animal husbandry all started by a man who has had polio since infancy.  Rather than let this terrible disease affect him, this remarkable young man applied himself and has a thriving business. Dr. Jerry also brought the teachers to his own home where they were able to see how Angel, Dr. Jerry’s wife, transformed their small compound with very little means.  These teachers must start small and right where they are, as Angel did.

With her own hands, Angel cleared a mess of weeds and rudiments of a poorly planted garden left by previous tenants. She prepared the soil for the planting of nutritional foods to foster healthy eating in her family (Dr. Jerry and Angel have five strong boys!).  Thanks to Angel’s perseverance, despite having little to work with, a wide range of local crops are beginning to yield food the family is eating. Not only did Angel cultivate the garden with care but she also saved a local tree, called a maracuja tree, that  has long been known to have medicinal qualities.


The Noyau took this trip to foster their awareness that with very little one can start with a vision and from there, with critical thinking and reflection, the vision can become a reality no matter where one starts.  THIS is assets-based servant leadership, the foundation of all of Giving Back to Africa’s work with the children at Centre Salisa.

The teachers completed guided field notes before, during, and after the field trip, notes that helped them apply the content of the nutrition modules they had just taught to what they were seeing in the real world. The guided field notes also challenged them to find linkages between the three curricula they have taught over the last 3 years on clean water, waste management, and now nutrition.  They reflected on how their teaching could offer the same opportunities around good nutrition that they had seen on the field trip to their own students and the community of Mpasa.  “What did we DO, SEE, and HEAR today,” the field note questions asked, “that we can also put into our lessons with students and what action steps can we take now?  How is this evidence of assets-based servant leadership?”

The Noyau will begin teaching Lesson 5 of the Nutrition Module next week.  This lesson will yield even more fruit as the children will benefit from the applied knowledge their teachers gained as a result of this field trip.  Angel’s garden will be a guiding vision for them!

farm2        farm3

Story supported by program committee skype meetings with Dr. Jerry Kindomba; Feb 6,2014.

Dr. Jerry Kindomba, Project Manager, to Embrace U.S. Trip, Speak at Gala

Dr. Jerry Kindomba, Project Manager Dr. Jerry Kindomba, Project Manager in DR Congo, is ready to visit the capital of Hoosier nation! Dr. Jerry arrives in the United States on August 20th and will stay until September 15th. Dr. Jerry will be busy making appearances, giving talks, and engaging with our supporters across the country, as well as sightseeing! Register for the gala on September 5th to hear Jerry speak about the past year at Centre Salisa.

Dr. Jerry is a Congolese medical doctor who is very familiar with community development. He worked with a USAID project to improve Congolese healthcare before working with us. Dr. Jerry spearheads curriculum development for our shining students at Centre Salisa. Jerry and his wife have five boys.

Dr. Jerry's almost one month trip is Bloomington-based, but he will also be meeting with supporters in Washington D.C., Indianapolis, and Michigan. He is meeting with numerous organizations, including the George Malaika Foundation, the Global Fund for Children, the Bloomington-based Project School, and Sunrise Rotary. He will also be on the Noon Edition Radio Program, a WFIU program, on September 6th.

Dr. Jerry's appearances and talks help to continue to raise awareness for the educational dilemmas in DR Congo, our work in Mpasa, and what next steps are needed. His efforts allow both new and old friends to support student leadership in DR Congo.


Community Service Action #2 Welcomes Students into Community Homes

We are excited to share the latest updates from our community service actions, or CSAs. CSAs are student-led projects that help students to share with the community what they've learned in school. CSAs also enable students to lead change to solve real community issues, such as improper waste disposal. In CSA #1, students went out into busy areas and picked up waste. Community members wondered what the students were doing and engaged with them in conversations about waste management. Read more about the CSAs and the philosophy behind them. Centre Salisa students preparing for the fete


Students started CSA #2, home visits, on the 2oth. Eighteen students and their teachers went out and visited twenty-six households in order to share news about how to properly handle waste. The students' work allows for safer community practices, shared information, increased self-confidence for the student leaders, and a chance to show how important an asset education is for everyone.

The day began with preparation and briefing in the classroom. Students practiced what they wanted to say, and the teachers led them in a simulation of a home visit.

Next, the groups went to the homes. Adults were amazed to see the children speaking with such self-confidence. Respect and hospitality abounded during the visits. Students reported that people were interested, kind, encouraging, and asked questions. Many had not know much information about waste management before the students' visit. Student Tshibola said the positive reaction was, "because we approached people with respect, greeting them, and explaining clearly the reason of the visit."

Additionally, Beya Beya explained the reason of the visit so well that one father listened diligently and then decided to separate biodegradable waste from non-biodegradable waste in his garden.

After the visits, students went back to school to reflect on their experiences. They are anxious to be able to continue the home visits! They will finish the home visits, then revisit families on August 3rd to follow up and invite them to the mini fete, CSA #3. At the mini fete, which will be on August 10th, the students will perform more skits, dances, and poems about waste management with hopes to reach even more community members. The students are also working on creating a map with clean water and waste management details that they can share with friends.

The mini fete will present lessons similar to those that were presented during April's fete. It will further emphasize the effects of an education and of proper waste treatment.  The students continue to work tirelessly to make these CSAs a success for all!




Liz Wepler to Raise $500 Donation Through Half Marathon

The leaves are crisp, the sun is setting sooner, and pumpkins dot porches around town. Autumn has arrived, and it’s the perfect time for a casual stroll around the park or the Farmer’s Market—or a half-marathon in Moab. At least, that’s what Liz Wepler is doing on November 2nd.

Liz, a SPEA graduate, is running the Moab Trail Half Marathon with a goal of raising $500 for GBA.

Liz heard about GBA during her time as a SPEA undergrad when she took co-founder Dr. Ann Marie Thomson’s class. She was interested in GBA’s approach to community development. “The service-learning (or now servant-leadership) components really spoke to something I was just beginning to value in my own life as well at the time,” says Liz. Ann Marie became a mentor to Liz, even after Liz moved away to Colorado.

In addition to raising $500 through the run, Liz recently became a monthly donor. She will match a portion of her donations for the run. “Last year I fundraised $500 as a part of a team for a Denver-based organization and realized that this is something that I could do for GBA as well.”

Liz has completed two half marathons, but this one is different in that it is a trail marathon, taking place on much less predictable terrain. She aims to just finish the race, but ideally finish it under 2.5 hours. Her training involves running 10 miles once a week with shorter runs interspersed throughout the week.

In her pre-run interview, Liz offered up her insight about GBA. “When you look into the dynamic and tumultuous history of DRC and the different models of community development that are being put into action, GBA is approaching development and addressing local community needs in the right way with both short term effects and long term impact in mind.”

Liz is modeling a sustainable form of community development herself—starting local to find solutions and using her talents and resources to reach extraordinary goals.


If you’d like to help Liz reach her goal, you can donate here—



We will keep you posted with updates. Good luck, Liz!

Morgan Scherer Welcomed Home After Trip of a Lifetime

After a summer of soul-searching, starry nights on the trail, and 500 miles worth of footprints made with DRC in mind, Morgan Scherer is home (and back to school!) in Bloomington! We want to thank and congratulate Morgan for his amazing accomplishment in serving our students and modeling leadership for us all! Here is Morgan's final blog post-

"I woke up early July 25th to climb Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Not only was this my last day on the trail, but it was also the reaching of my goal to walk 500 miles. As I flew up the short, but steep five miles to the top of the mountain, there was a surreal feeling that set in. I apprehended the lessons my hike taught me, several of which I am sure I do not even know about. I am excited to implement these valuable lessons in my life.

After the first step, the hardest step, with a million more to go, I realized Niko and I were on an adventure to find something. We didn’t quite know what that something was, but we were going to get it. I thought all along that this treasure we were on a search for rested at the end of the trail, like the rainbow’s pot of gold, but, surprisingly, when I got to the top of Mount Katahdin, nothing happened. I was not hit in the face with some spiritual awakening. I felt no change, only drooled over the view from the peak of the mountain.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I sat on top of mountain vistas as well as next to valley streams to break from the tedious walking, but something always edged me on. I felt a strong urge to see what was on the other side of the mountain. We take each step to see more beauty that is out there in this massive and mysterious world. We cannot help but to take our lives on adventures.

As I am now walking from class to class at Bloomington High School North instead of from peak to peak in the Appalachian Mountains, I’m comfortable; almost too comfortable. My legs are restless as they twitch up and down while I sit at my desk with an anxiousness to go somewhere. Walking is not the fastest mode of transportation, but I saw this summer that it can get me where I want to go.

Harold Whitman said "Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." I love that I was able to convince people to give me money for walking. Your small check may feel worthless compared to the $10,000 of pledges, but every cent is creating a chance for the kids at Centre Salisa to come alive. Every kid should have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams, whether that be walking in the mountains or becoming a doctor. I believe that what we are giving to the kids, they will give back to Africa."


You are invited to welcome Morgan (and Niko!) home and celebrate their hike Sunday, August 18th, from 7-9 p.m. The party will be held at the Scherer's home-- 4811 N. Maple Grove Rd, Bloomington, IN, 47404. Desserts will be served.

Please RSVP to Morgan at 812-325-7229 or at morgan.d.scherer@gmail.com.

For pledges made to Giving Back to Africa on Morgan's behalf, please send the donation to Morgan's home address, listed above, or simply bring them to the party with you! Please make checks payable to Giving Back to Africa.

You can also hear Morgan speak at the gala on September 5th!


Giving Back to Africa Student Association: Connecting Students to Students

Dani Walker's no stranger to DR Congo-- she's been interested in the country since 2005, a junior in high school, when she learnt of the devastating effects of the civil war there. After watching about the conflict on an episode of Oprah, the messages she heard that day on the show stuck on in her mind. She began reading about Congo, the conflict, and Africa overall. Dani later entered IU for International Studies and the African Studies program."It was the only thing that really gripped me at the time when I was supposed to be deciding what to do with my life and what to go to college for, " she explains.

After beginning her career at IU, Dani was referred to Ann Marie, co-founder of GBA, who grew up in Congo.  There were few people Dani knew of who knew about the conflict there, let alone had visited the country. The two quickly formed a friendship, and Ann Marie helped to nurture Dani's passion while also continuing to grow her vision of Giving Back to Africa.  "I have always been a big-picture thinker, so I loved how GBA strategically invested in people to grow up leaders for the country," says Dani.

Ann Marie really hit home the idea of investing in people rather than projects. She saw potential in Dani and in the Congolese people to be the producers of their own positive change. "Most organizations bypass people and instead invest in projects, which at the best will make a temporary difference.  What is special about GBA is that they have a long-term vision for Congo and they work alongside the Congolese people.  This is truly a unique and special vision that I wanted to be a part of and make a way for others to also be a part of!"

Later on, Jim and Ann Marie connected Dani with another student, Micah Widen. Both wanted to be a part of the GBA vision. Dani writes, "We began envisioning a student organization with three objectives: 1) to raise money to support GBA’s programs 2) to raise awareness about the issues facing DR Congo, and 3) to build mutual relationships between the Congolese and Bloomington communities."  They wanted people to see Africa outside of the media spotlight and to connect individuals in the US with individuals in Congo and show how each affects the other. They also desired to show the capacity of the Congolese people to take control of their own future, to show Americans that GBA's work would be a partnership, not a one-sided aid machine. Soon, the Giving Back to Africa Student Association (GBASA) was born to help fulfill these wishes.

As GBA grew, so did GBASA's events and activities. GBASA partnered with the PAID students and students at Binford Elementary for an art project. Students were given the same materials and the same assignment-- draw a picture and write something about yourself. The results were displayed at the Village Deli. This helped in aiding with GBASA's vision to connect individuals and to show that, despite cultural and environmental differences, everyone holds on to similar human characteristics and values. Another highlight was Kambale Musavali's, a Congolese activist, speech at IU. GBASA has also screened films, participated in the Lotus Blossoms Bazaar, and helped to plan and host benefits, like the Krista Detor Holiday Concert and this year's first annual spring benefit gala, Teach Me, Congo.

Both GBA and GBASA continue to plan new activities today, and both continue to grow! Why team up with GBASA? Dani pretty much sums it up--

"I grew as a leader, I interacted with incredible people from around the world, and I gained a set of skills I would have otherwise missed out on.  This is a huge advantage to being involved with a smaller organization – that you can be involved on many levels.  Take advantage of this opportunity and use it expand your own growth and learning!"


For more information on the GBASA, you can email gba@indiana.edu and join the GBASA Facebook group. We look forward to seeing what kinds of creative and inspiring actions the students will lead this year!

Congo: Continue the Story Weaves Together Tales Across Continents

Congo: Continue the Story

Thursday,  September 5th, 2013, 6:30 p.m., The Clubhouse at the Fields

Registration is now open for our 2nd annual gala, Congo: Continue the Story, Empowering the next generation of African leaders! We get amazing stories to share when we bring our friends and volunteers in the US together with our leaders in DR Congo! Connect with us September 5th for inspiring stories about all our efforts.

Congo: Continue the Story benefit gala for Giving Back to Africa, September 5

The Clubhouse at the Fields, in Bloomington, is the place to be on Thursday, September 5th at 6:30 p.m.. We are excited to be collaborating with fashion blogger Jessica Quirk, of What I Wore, in order to bring you hand-picked fabrics and handcrafted clothing straight from Congo. One World Events & Catering is providing a delicious dinner fueled by seasonal and local ingredients, and we will also be serving beer from Cutters, which was founded in Bloomington, and Salt Creek Brewery, located in Bedford. Additionally, we are thrilled that Twin H Tree Farm and Nursery will be decorating with us again this year!

During the program, Project Manager Dr. Jerry Kindomba will speak with us, and we will hear from Morgan Scherer and other friends. We are hosting an auction as well, which will include "mystery" boxes, trinkets and treasures from the US and Congo, and special products and services from local Bloomington shops. All proceeds will go to continuing to support our students and teachers in DR Congo. Seats are limited, so register now!

Congo: Continue the Story celebrates stories and relives the highlights and accomplishments of the year. We will have the opportunity to share our stories with you, and we hope that by your attendance, you can share your story with us, too.

Register here for the gala! Contact events@givingbacktoafrica.org or call 812-340-6649 with questions.