Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Slow and Steady

With 41Day coming up this Saturday, I wanted to give you a fairly quick update (and a bit of background) on the goings on around the feeding program this last year. It has been mostly business as usual. In our 5th year feeding students, we have definitely settled into a rhythm around the work that we do, and that, in itself, is amazing. In a culture where nearly everything happens day-to-day, or even hour-by-hour, and nothing is ever really sure, and certainly not guaranteed, creating a program that can be counted on is definitely worth celebrating.

In many ways, it was a slower year, not an easy year, but slower. Quieter. We haven't pushed as hard as we have in previous years, but that doesn't mean we didn't see growth; it's not the kind you can count with your fingers, but the growth that can only happen when you slow down enough to just listen. It's been a year of refining and creating greater sustainability.

As you may know, in our first year of feeding students, the food was provided completely free of charge. It was huge blessing to the students and their families and I will never forget the day we gave them the news. We had just finished up the very first lunch ever served at their school and the students were high on life. Singing and dancing. They were so thankful and all saying as much. When we were saying our goodbyes, we told them we would see them tomorrow and they couldn't believe it. One student sheepishly walked over to me and whispered, "I don't have the money to pay." I told her it was free and asked JD to clarify that for everyone. The place exploded.

By the time we wrapped up that year, we had learned countless lessons. At the top of that list was that, in order to affirm their dignity and truly offer empowerment, the students and their parents need to have ownership and responsibility in this, as well. The needs in our community were (and still are) great, but we never intended to create a program based on a handout. We sat down with the school leaders and Parents Committee and came up with a plan to build a 50/50 partnership between No.41 and the parents. School feeding programs were something the government was starting to push for, country wide, but most families were struggling to put food on their own tables and the thought of being forced to pay for another meal seemed out of the question. We created a sliding scale, based on the poverty level for each family, that started with parents contributing an average of $2 a year, per student, that would gradually increase to $30 a year, over the next 5 years.

I'm happy to report that, at the start of this year, the parents are proudly contributing 30% of the funds necessary to feed their students! They are so thankful we are able to work with them slowly and we are so honored to do it. We are are also incredibly encouraged by this model and confident we could take the 50/50 approach directly to any new schools we plan to partner with in the future.

On 41Day, we ask for you to donate your lunch money to feed our students. And so many of you do that. Some donate exactly the cost of your lunch that day ($7.14), some donate to feed a student for the entire year ($60), some chose to donate the cost of your lunch on a monthly basis ($5-$10). It's a small price to pay, but I hope you never doubt the heart behind what we're building and our desire to see lasting change. There are many of us who may not even notice $5 or $10 drafted out our bank accounts each month, but I can tell you, for these students, for their parents, and their entire families, the impact is beyond measure.

So here's what you need to know about THIS Saturday:
  • We would love for you to join us to fast, pray, and donate what you would have spent on lunch.
  • We're going to be launching our brand new, beautiful website full of photos and stories from our little slice of the world. We'll have new, streamlined giving options and shop-wide discounts on all the ladies' products.
  • In the meantime, find us on Instagram.
See you Saturday!! xo

P.S. Hit that little share button down there and tell your friends about how you're changing our world in Rwanda!

Monday, March 27, 2017

41Day:: A Note From the Founder


If there's one thing I could tell you about being the Founder of a nonprofit, it's that exactly none of us started and organization because we love fundraising. I'll take that one step further for myself and say that pretty much all administrative work falls into the "cons" category for me. What I'm trying to say is, HI!, I'm sorry it's been so long.

That said, a big "pro", the biggest of all, is the people we get to work with and for; the community we've built and the partnerships that make it possible. I'm talking about you. All of us, working together, doing our part for the greater good. And that's exactly what 41Day is all about! This is a day where we join with people all over the world, chose to give up our lunch for one day (or don't), and donate what we would have spent (or more) to feed students in Rwanda. If you spend $10 on lunch, that same $10 would feed 40 students, for the day, in our program.

Our 5th Annual 41Day is this Saturday, April 1st! In the simplest way, with cost of your lunch money, YOU get to be a part of true, lasting change. It doesn't change the whole world, but it sure does change someone's. Over the last 4 years, just on this one day, you have provided over 250,000 meals to our students! 

It's pretty unbelievable to fathom; No.41 started on whim, to meet a need, with a dream and a prayer and a blog post and $120 donated for our first sewing machine. Today, we've employed over 50 women and men, graduated 5 young women from university, and fed over ONE MILLION meals to students who wouldn't have eaten otherwise. But more than any of that, your partnership with us has breathed life and brought hope to a community, no longer suffering to survive, but struggling to thrive

You have changed us. One dollar, one meal, one life a time.

Mark those calendars! This Saturday, April 1st. More soon!

xo- Tara

**photos by Imago Photography

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Today is the Day!!

Happy 41Day!!

Can I just say, y'all are the best?! I woke up this morning to a huge chunk out of our $13,000 goal! Almost $700 raised so far from the "lunch money" of 22 different people!

So, in case you were thinking that your $5 or $10 wasn't important, it's adds up quick. And, I promise, it's more than important to our students. It's world changing!

Have you given your lunch money yet?

We have 65 days left in our school year and 1,184 students and teachers who are going to be served a hot, healthy meal each day. We need to raise $13,000 to finish out the year and we plan to knock that out TODAY!

$5 feeds one student for an entire month. [donate here]

$16.25 feeds one student for the entire term. [donate here]

If you're thinking, "Man, this is so easy I wish I could do it every month!" You can. [here]

It really is that simple, changing the world. And it wouldn't happen without YOU! Thank you for your partnership. xo

Friday, July 29, 2016

41Day, Too

Oh hey! Tara here, in case you didn't know.... It seems like every time I check in here, I'm apologizing for taking so long to check in here. Sorry about that! :) I'll be honest, it's not always easy trying to keep all the balls in the air and then run over here to let you know that, yes, all the balls are still in the air. They are! That said, I am/we are SO THANKFUL that you have chosen to support us and stick with us through this journey to change our little chunk of the world! 

Before we go any further, can we get one thing straight? I HATE fundraising! There isn't one single thing to me that feels exciting about asking for money. It's just not fun. A few things that go through my mind:

Remember, it's not about you. It's for a good cause.
When was the last time you asked?
What have you accomplished since then?
Don't make the ask too small, they'll think it doesn't matter.
Don't make the ask too big, they'll shut you out immediately.
Be funny. And honest.

And, now that we've established that, I need to ask you for some money. I promise to make it simple and painless. For both of us.

As most of y'all in the States are getting set for back to school, our crew here in Rwanda is gearing up for their last leg of the school year. Term 3 is the shortest term of year and least expensive in terms of food, because it's harvesting time, but in terms of studying it is the most important term. In term 3 many students are preparing for their National Exams, the one exam that will determine if the student will continue their studies and what they will be studying, if they do. Since we started the feeding program, three years ago, our school has consistently earned the highest test scores in the district! Which means that more of our students are able to continue their studies into higher education creating a rare opportunity to, not only enter the work force, but actually pursue something they are passionate about in university!

So, let's cut to the chase. There are 65 school days in term 3 and there are 1,184 students and teachers who will be served a hot, healthy meal each day; we need to raise $13,000 to finish out the year. For the last 3 years on 41Day, you all have rallied around us on April 1st (4-1) to donate your lunch money and raised at least that much. In one day. On August 2nd (8-2, get it?), we are asking that you would open up your lunch boxes again and donate. It's so simple and there are several ways you can help.

$5 feeds one student for an entire month. [donate here]

$16.25 feeds one student for the entire term. [donate here]

If you think, Man, this is so easy I wish I could do it every month! You can. [here]

If shopping is more your speed, the Rosine Signature Bag, which usually feeds a student for a year, has been discounted to cover just this remaining term. And the Fanny Laptop Case, Leticia Clutch, Amara Makeup Bag, and Jose Apron all cover one student for the term. [shop here]

This year has offered me the unique perspective to have two of my own sons attending the school No.41 feeds. It has always been an honor and privilege to be a part of the No.41 team providing lunch, but now I have experienced, first hand, the immense blessing of knowing that my boys are taken care of and being given the very best chance at a bright future. It's what any mother wants for her child. For any child. Will you join us?

See ya Tuesday!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Hey there!! Tara, here. It's been a little while since you've heard from me, but I'm here to let you know that the world spins madly on; and we are still rocking, rolling, and changing our little piece of it!

I'm not that great at explaining things. Often times, I just assume certain things are common knowledge. But I realize that my experiences over the last 4 years have opened my eyes and my heart to a world I couldn't have fathomed before. Those experiences ignited a passion within me that propels my every day. I read and research, I seek out friends and mentors with like passions and experiences, as we all do, and I forget what I didn't know. You see, God rejoices in small beginnings. And I believe he takes what we offer him and multiplies it beyond what we would have ever comprehended.

So, I was wondering if you know. I wondered if you know that what you are doing matters.

Sometimes people say nice things to me about starting No.41, and I think that's really kind, but starting it was not the hard part. I often wonder if you know that none of this would be possible without your support. And I do mean YOU, sweet reader right now. You because you bought a bag. You because you shared a link and 3 of your friends bought tshirts. You because you sponsored a child. You because you offered your talents to further our mission. We can't sustain or grow this without you.

There is a community in Rwanda that is being changed by the efforts of No.41. There are formerly unemployed women and men, working and providing for their families. We don't give them everything we think they need, but we give them a skill, and hope, and love, and the chance to work for themselves and to give back to students in their area.

There is a school that had 250 students enrolled before our feeding program came along. Today, 1,200 students and teachers strong, they are bursting at seams and having to turn students away. For many, they have come to school to eat. Possibly their only meal of the day. I have met with mothers and fathers who couldn't say thank you enough, because, before, they could only afford to feed the youngest in their families, and now, knowing their older children were provided for, they felt relieved. Not only are the students provided for, but they are being educated. That is generational change. The hope they feel for the future is palpable. And it's spreading.

There are so many other schools in our area, asking to be fed, whose parents have joined together to try and do what they can to also provide lunch for their students. They have seen what this one meal is doing at our school, what it means for the students, the families, and the future of Rwanda. They have gathered what they have and it's just not enough. Y'all, we can meet this need. We can pull our community together and partner with a community on the other side of the world. Because we believe that where you live shouldn't define how you live. And no matter where you are, food should never be too much to ask. We believe that, right?

Can I be frank, for a moment here? I love you because you're reading this, and I hope you love us, too.... Well, because you're reading this. I appreciate your kind words; they mean so much and some days are really tough and a kind word goes a long way. I love it when you like our posts at No.41; it would be embarrassing if no one ever did. I am so thankful when you share a post with your friends. So, please don't think for a second that I'm not. The problem is, I can't feed your words, or your likes, or your shares to the students in Rwanda. We need you to get involved! And we're going to make it so easy! Please don't click away.

On April 1st (FRIDAY!), we will have our 4th Annual 41Day. This is a day where we join with people all over the world, chose to give up our lunch for one day, and donate what we would have spent to feed students in Rwanda. One meal costs just $0.25. How much do you spend on lunch?

$1 feeds 4 children for one day,
$5 feeds 20 children,
$10 feeds 40 children...

Over the last 3 years, just on this one day, we have fed nearly 200,000 meals!! One person and one dollar at a time. I know y'all hear stuff all the time; this world is off her rocker and there are no less than a million "issues" asking for your heart, your partnership, your dollars. But I would just ask you stop and digest, that the cost of one Starbucks drink a month, you could feed a student, every day, and drastically change a life. If just half of those of you who are reading this post could spare $10 a month, we could feed an entire school in Rwanda!

Are you in?! Here's what you can do:
  • On Friday, April 1st, you can fast, pray, donate what you would have spent on lunch.
  • If you're the crazy kind, you can set up a recurring monthly donation. Just $10 month, will take care of feeding two students!!
  • Share our story with your friends on Facebook, twitter, instagram, your blog...
  • Make a purchase in the shop. The Solange Tote feeds 93 meals!
  • Donate here to sponsor a child for the year. ($60. Done and done!)
  • Find us on Instagram. You know, just for fun. :)
  • Hit that little share button down there and tell your friends about how you're changing our world in Rwanda! 
See you Friday!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Confessions of a World Changer:: Four Years. For One.

Hi y'all. Tara here.

Do you have the Timehop app? I pretty much love it. I love it because it reminds me how far I've come; how much has changed and how much hasn't. It keeps me humble, because, my goodness, I say some dumb stuff. And when it comes to Rwanda, it is a daily reminder of God's great love and faithfulness.

Yesterday, a link to this blog came up. It was written four years ago, as I was just moving out of my house and into my mom's in preparation for moving to Rwanda that summer. To sum up my ramblings:

I have been pouring through anything and everything I can about faith and trust and about daring to believe God for the impossible. Not by me, but through me. And I've gotta tell you, you're not going to believe this, but I'm a world-changer. It's true. I am.

And so are you.

I am disappointed in the fact that it took me so long to figure it out, but absolutely bursting at the seams to watch what happens. As it turns out, two of the most overwhelmingly apparent qualities in me, that seem to define most of my life, are about to work together for the glory God. Naiveté and optimism. On this specific journey, I'm naive enough to give it try and optimistic enough to think I can make a difference. Steven Furtick calls it "Sanctified Naiveté" and says that "when the scope of your vision seems a lot bigger than your base of knowledge or the breadth of your experience, you're in good company." A few young, immature biblical heroes include Jeremiah, Timothy and my personal fav Paul.

I had no idea why I was going to Rwanda, except that I loved little boy. I knew nothing about sewing, or running a business. I had zero thoughts about feeding kids. Reading back over that was cringe-y, to say the least, but I was smiling like an idiot because, even then, and long before, the pieces of this journey were falling into place. It's hard to imagine the ride that has taken place in four short years. In so many ways, that empty living room feels like a lifetime ago, yet I still remember the lost and lonely girl who cried out and found hope within those walls. God is faithful. And though it's still cringe-y to say, I am world changer. I have seen a little tiny piece of the world change because of a very small step I took, out of sanctified naiveté, followed by another, and another, and another...

So, you know what that means, you are world changer, too.

This isn't some kind of feel-good thing (unless you feel good about it), this really is a real thing. Have you heard that quote by Margret Mead? "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." 

Now, I'm sure you are already contributing to world change, in your own way, but I want to tell you about another opportunity. A simple, yet significant chance to impact the life of a student you will likely never meet, but who will feel the effects of your generosity for a lifetime. And since you might never meet them, I'll tell you, they are the raddest, most excited group of kids. You have never heard so much cheering and clapping over food.

On April 1st, we will have our 3rd Annual 41Day. This is a day where we join with people all over the world, chose to give up our lunch for one day, and donate what we would have spent to feed students in our feeding program. One meal costs just $0.25. How much do you spend on lunch?

$1 feeds 4 children for one day,
$5 feeds 20 children,
$10 feeds 40 children... 

Last year, we had a goal to feed 41,000 meals and we crushed it! We fed a whopping 56,488 meals! This year, we're doubling it. 80,000 meals.

You're going to be hearing so much more about this over the coming weeks. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to get ready:
  • Order a (sweet) tshirt here. Or here. (Use to code: CHANGE41 for $5 off)
  • Join our Facebook event and invite your friends.
  • Find us on Instagram. My goodness, it's 2015.
  • Hit that little share button down there and tell your friends about us! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Great Exchange

I get by with a little help from my friends. -The Beatles

No.41 was started out of smallness. Out of a willingness to be used. A desire to see change. As a group. In a community. One of our fundamental beliefs is that every life has value. We all have unique gifts and talents. Mine are not yours and yours are not mine. Every one of us was created with purpose and there are good works, already prepared, for each of us to do. 

Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. -Desmond Tutu

Maybe you've heard our whole story, or enough pieces of it, so I won't go into all of it here. But, in case you haven't, here's the quick run down. In 2011, I (Tara) moved into the Noel Orphanage in Gisenyi, Rwanda. I didn't have a plan, but I trusted that God did. At them time, there were 630 children and young adults living at Noel and I wanted to make a lasting impact in some way. I heard a quote by Andy Stanley, "Do for one what you wish you could do for all." And I knew, at the very least, I could create change for one. So, I founded No.41 and began working with several of the oldest girls from Noel, all over the age of 18, and teaching them to sew as a way to earn a sustainable income. It was important to me that the girls knew their worth, not only as a child of God, but also within their community, so after they are paid the ladies donate 100% of the profits from the sell of their items to feed students at a feeding program we started at a local school. We've had 32 women go through our program and we currently feed 1,200 students and teachers every day. So now that you're all caught up....

I love this photo so hard....
I have been dying to tell y'all more about The Great Exchange Project (#thegreatexchangeproject) an upcoming collaboration with some (new) dear friends of mine, The Ivey's. This is more than an answered prayer. It's the answer to SO many. To name a couple: as you may know, we have recently taken a men's leather co-op under our wing; we are so thrilled about what that could mean for us, but have been more than overwhelmed with all that entails. Enter Joanna. And, as you may also know, we have been hurting since our girl Alison, our resident photographer, moved back to Texas. Alison's beautiful photos have always been paramount in helping us share our story and she has been sorely missed around here. Enter Tim. SO YOU GUYS...

The Ivey's are in the process of adopting domestically and all the profits from Joanna's handbags go to support that.
Quick backgroud: I met Joanna at the Influence Conference last fall. I had been eyeing her beautiful clutches, that were selling like hotcakes in the marketplace there, and was so excited when I realized we were sitting at the same breakfast table. I don't really remember how the rest played out, we got to talking and she was sharing her heart about her desire to use her skills to give back, and I joking asked if she wanted to come to Rwanda. She said yes! I laughed and probably continued chomping some bacon. Later that day, she came up to me and said, "So, I'm actually serious, I would love to talk about coming to Rwanda. I think I can help." and that was it. We hung the rest of the weekend and got to know each other a bit more. Oh, and it just so happens she lives in Chattanooga, so once we got back to Tennessee, she invited my down to speak at her small group where I got to meet Tim and their sweet daughter, Zuri. And, y'all, the rest is history...

THE IVEY'S ARE COMING TO RWANDA. They are so dear, and so lovely, and oh so talented and we are more than honored to have them become a part of our story.

Sneak peek of one of the bags Joanna and I have been designing... (!!!)

I feel like I've gone and gotten all wordy on y'all; I guess that's what happens when you don't blog for months... Anyway, our trip is coming up in 3 very short weeks and we can't wait to update you! We'd love to have y'all follow along on instagram! And Joanna has started a prayer calendar for the trip that you can sign up for on her insta. We'd love your prayers!

No.41: @no41
Tara: @tarajill

Ok. Bye.