Saturday, February 15, 2014


Courtesy of Unbound
Thursday night, I was able to attend an Unbound event, featuring Lillian, a woman working in Kenya as the director of the mother's groups for Unbound's Nairobi project. Lillian is an energetic woman with an eye for what really goes on in the sponsored families' homes. She grew up in a family with nine children in Mombasa, Kenya, which allows her to connect her own experiences with others around her. The event enabled people in the community to learn more about Unbound, the micro-lending program through mother's groups, and to socialize.

Courtesy of Unboud
The program began with time to socialize and then after an introduction by Elizabeth Alex, Director of New Channels, and Scott Wasserman, the newly elected CEO, Lillian began to talk about herself and her projects through compelling and entertaining stories using straight-forward language. Unbound's mother's  programs allow mothers of sponsored children in a community to meet together to support each other under the umbrella of the unbound community. These mothers represent their families, meeting once a month to discuss their community and what they can do to support them. 
Courtesy of Unbound

The most unique part about this group is their micro-lending programs. The women are encouraged to donate just about $1.10 per month to a group "pool", which unbound matches. At any given time, a mother can approach the group to request a loan to start their own business, expand a business, pay for a child's school tuition, or pay for medical expenses. 70% of the loans requested are to support businesses. These businesses may be raising poultry, farming, providing laundry services, or perhaps creating necklace and bracelets through intricate bead work. The loans allow the women to make the investment needed to start these businesses and then make money to support the family. 

Courtesy of Unbound
Lillian shared how important this income is to the family in this way: if a family does not have a steady job, the mother or father might go out in the community to find a job as a daily laborer. If they come home without having found a job, this also means that the family will not have a meal to feed their children. Lillian shared stories of mothers placing a pot on the stove without starting the fire, and then when their children ask "Mom, when is dinner" she simply says, "Its being cooked, just be patient". Eventually the children fall asleep without realizing they didn't have dinner, carrying them over into another day. These tactics are heart-breaking for these mothers and can cause fights for the parents. By allowing the mothers to start their own business, they no longer have to worry about whether or not they can provide a meal for their family, which provides huge ripple effects for everyone in the community. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekend Activities (part 3)

#5: Fine Arts events

Throughout the city, there are also many opportunities to explore the fine arts.  From the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, to the UMKC Conservatory, there are countless chances to see an Opera, the Ballet, or a play directed by Kansas City's own. Almost every weekend, I will look over at the Visit KC website, and there are several plays and various types of performances available to enjoy.  While I have only been able to attend a few of these types of performances, there are consistently opportunities for people to see these events across a huge spectrum of costs and locations. From free concerts on the plaza and at colleges to events you pay a much higher price for at the Kauffman Center. 

#6: Concerts

Throughout my time at Rockhurst, I have also attended many concerts. From my very first concert
of Flogging Molly at the Uptown Theater in March of my freshman year, to the concert I am seeing this weekend- Infected Mushroom at the Midland- a gift to my boyfriend, I have taken advantage of the music scene in Kansas City. There are often many free concerts at the Power and Light district such as their line of concerts during the summer on Thursday and Friday nights. (Country on Thursdays and more pop/dance music on Fridays) I saw Silversun Pickups as part of the MLS week, and Icona Pop for these reasons! There are also the fair share of more expensive "big name" concerts at the Sprint Center on a regular basis. 
Overall, my time living in Kansas City has been full of numerous types of ways to spend my evenings and weekends. People are never left to have nothing to do on weekends in the city- so staying busy is never a problem! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weekend Activities (part 2)

#2: Nelson- Atkins Art Museum

A sunset in front of some of the permanent outside art
This museum, located less than a mile from the university, allows free entry to see all of the permanent exhibits at all times.  With a large lawn with permanent art installations that provide entertainment in addition to the huge collections inside, this museum has entertained me for many afternoons and evenings throughout my time at Rockhurst.  Many students will also use the front lawn to host frisbee tournaments, picnics, and general opportunities to meet up with group of people on a nice afternoon.

#4: Festivals (Renaissance Festival, Fiesta Hispana, Plaza Art Fair etc)

Over the years, I have been able to attend numerous festivals, fairs, and other events around the city.  The Renaissance Festival- while among the most expensive of the events I'll share- was a lot of fun for my family and I.  (My parents last visited while my mom was pregnant with me!) Between the costumes of other attendees, jousting tournaments, hundreds of booths for Renaissance themed food and gifts, camel rides, and jesters; the whole day was filled with entertaining activities.  
My brother was the happiest I've ever seen him riding
a camel at the Renaissance Festival
Fiesta Hispana in the downtown area was my first experience with a Spanish-themed festival with booths selling food and items from many different cultures from Latin America, in addition to performances and artists.  The Plaza Art Fair (along with the Westport Art Fair, and the Brookside Art Fair, among others) features booths from artists from all around the country in addition to deals offered by restaurants and stores in the area is always a great chance to walk around and soak up the art culture in Kansas City.  
You never know what you'd find at Fiesta Hispana
My mom, brother, and I at the Renaissance Festival

Fiesta Hispana- downtown