Redefining mzungu: Sandy’s story

Sandy Skorczewski - Imara International

By Joe Abe

Kenyans call Sandy Skorczewski “mzungu,” which simply means “white person” in Swahili. After learning more about Sandy, when I hear mzungu, I think about “perseverance.” In the third issue of Mjumbe Imara, I began to tell Sandy Skoczewski’s story. After interviewing her, she told me stories about her calling to Africa, life lessons, and adventures outside of Imara. It’s difficult to fit such an extraordinary experience into a short article in Mjumbe Imara, so allow me to elaborate.

The summer of 2009, Boy Scout Troop 570 caravanned out to the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. Why is this significant? It was on this trip that I spent a whole week hiking through the Montana wilderness at 9,000 feet elevation and 40 pounds on my back with Sandy and her son, Dylan. Up in the mountains, we carried everything with us: food, pots and pans, stoves, tents, sleeping bags, rain gear, and clean underwear. I remember hitting the first camp for the day and feeling exhausted, throwing my tent up, and passing out on my sleeping bag.

Sandy was in my hiking group and carried on with a quiet but unwavering perseverance. That was what I remembered most about her. Despite long days traversing rocky terrain, braving wind and rain and whiny Boy Scouts, Sandy did what she does best: persevere.

Perseverance is an integral part of Sandy’s identity. For over 15 years, she raised her two children, Dylan and Jake, as a single mom. On top of that, she was a big supporter of Dylan’s participation in Troop 570, driving him an hour every Monday night to meetings and getting involved in the Troop’s activities. Being an active scout parent is no easy feat. After Boy Scouts, another challenge knocked on her door. Read More

Containing our excitement!

Container arrives

By Carol Erickson, Executive Director
Imara International

We have containers!

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but for Imara it is huge. We have been working on getting containers out to our new land for two years. Thanks to one of our Kenyan board members, Brian, they have arrived.  Aren’t they beautiful? There is hardly a scratch or dent on them. That is pretty much a miracle for a retired sea-going container!

These containers provide a safe, and secure spot for us to store supplies as we get our building project started.  It is a sign that we are getting very close to breaking ground for our first building in the Imara Village. For those of you who have walked with Imara from the beginning, you know that the building project has been slowly, but steadily moving forward.

We are excited to announce that if everything goes as planned, we will break ground in the beginning of November. You never know with Kenya, but in the midst of delays we have seen God do amazing things and bring about opportunities for Imara and our future plans that we never thought possible.

If you are considering being part of the January 2017 Mission Trip to Imara, guess what you get to do? That team will be painting the containers inside and out to make sure that they remain rust free and beautiful for years to come.  If you happen to have some extra painting skills, you could even paint the Imara logo on the outside.  It will be great fun and such a help.  You will get a front seat view of the building project.  You will get to watch the first Imara Village building being built while you paint.

PHOTOS: Family day reconnects moms with families

Family Day 2016-001

By Carol Erickson, Executive Director
Imara International

Family Day 2016 was a great day at Imara.  We loved welcoming all of the Imara friends and family to our home.  The day was spent reconnecting with family and celebrating the accomplishments of each of the girls and their children. The girls presented poems and music and the kids wowed everyone with their Bible verse recitation!

One of the great blessings of the day was hearing from the family members.  We gave them an opportunity to talk to the girls and give them advice.  It was amazing to hear what they had to say and how they emphasized the importance of education. Everyone participated in the afternoon and it of course ended with some delicious food! It was a fantastic day to celebrate all that the Imara girls have accomplished!

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Tracy Claeys: preparing youth for the future

Carol Erickson and Tracy Claeys

An audience of about 180, many of whom were first-time supporters of Imara International, heard a message of hope for the youth of Minnesota and Kenya at a breakfast event on May 9 at The Metropolitan ballroom and event center in Golden Valley, Minn. The keynote speaker, University of Minnesota Golden Gophers head football coach Tracy Claeys, delivered a message of hope for young people in challenging circumstances. Mike Max, WCCO-TV sports reporter and anchor, served as master of ceremonies.

Carol Erickson, Executive Director of Imara International, tied in themes of teamwork to her work at the Imara rescue home in Kenya. Both speakers emphasized the importance of education for the future of youth.

The event raised nearly $20,000 initially, with additional pledges and donations being received days later, including a grant from the TCF Foundation.

Tracy Claeys Breakfast at Metropolitan
Coach Tracy Claeys speaks at the Imara International breakfast, June 9, 2016.

Carol Erickson explains how Imara makes a difference

Imara Sunday 2016

Back in Minnesota from Kenya, Imara International Executive Director Carol Erickson spoke to hundreds at her home church on about how Imara is making a difference, on Imara Sunday, April 24.

Messiah United Methodist Church set aside Imara Sunday for Carol to speak to the congregation at its two worship services. She provided updates about the girls and their young children, and shared how Imara is making a positive difference in their lives through education, job skills, and a safe and healthy place to live. After each service, Erickson and board member Pete Thorp provided more details and an opportunity to ask questions and socialize.