Kili Climbers Profile: Billy Bludgus

On August 5 through 18 this summer, five avid supporters of House of Blue Hope are traveling to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to meet the kids of Blue Hope, volunteer at the house, and help fund raise for the Foundation by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  Every few days, we will highlight one of the outstanding people planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in an effort to raise awareness and fund for the House of Blue Hope Foundation.  Our first climber, founder and president, Billy Bludgus:

As many of you already know, I moved to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa in 2005 after graduating from college. I spent almost three years there teaching at a high school and working on community development projects. The largest project which I took on was founding the House of Blue Hope in 2007 with a few Tanzanian friends. This project focused on providing housing, basic necessities, and educational opportunities for kids in need. We started by renting a small room and brought four kids off the streets of Dar and enrolled them into neighborhood schools. Now, five and a half years later, we own our own facility and rent a second building. We support 19 children and teenagers who are all enrolled in schools and doing well. We have a full Tanzanian staff in Dar: two project administrators, a social worker, a teacher, a cook, house supervisore, and night watchment. We are registered as a 501c3 non-profit charity here in the U.S. and have a board of six directors who work hard to raise funds and awareness for our work.

Every summer I travel to Tanzania to check up on our work, to spend time with the kids, and to speak with our staff. We are constantly looking for ways to expand and improve our work. We recently constructed a well on our property so that we now have our own fresh water. Of course, in order to continue our work and to expand to assist more children, we need to raise more money.

In August, a team of us will be venturing to Tanzania for our annual site visit. We will be working with the kids and will spend a day painting the house. We will also attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in order to raise funds and awareness for the House of Blue Hope. As you may already know, at 19,341 feet, Kilimanjaro is the highest peak on the African continent.

Support Billy’s efforts here and join us in wishing him luck in his climb!

Why House of Blue Hope?

Many well-meaning people start non-governmental organizations during their time abroad. Like Billy Bludgus, House of Blue Hope’s co-founder, they see a problem and want to help those affected. Unfortunately, the overwhelming number of these organizations are no longer in existence three years after they start.  What allows House of Blue Hope to continue its work over five years after its start?

Dedication from the Day One

In the first days of House of Blue Hope there was no physical house but merely rented rooms with kids serious about changing their lives and adults who refused to give up on them.

In-country Partners

There would be no House of Blue Hope without Daudi Mboma, the organization could not have navigated Tanzanian laws, contracts, building permits and school systems without his knowledge.

Low Costs/Donations Go to the Kids

The challenge of many nonprofit organizations is to maximize the percent of every dollar goes to those in need instead of fundraising and staffing costs. X% of donations to House of Blue Hope go to the project as costs are kept low by people like VP of Finance Scott Sadowski.

Fundraising Leadership

Strides for Kids, March Goodness, Blue Hope’s first book – each an idea created and executed by our Development Director, Jenna Riedi. House of Blue Hope has only been able to expand to a new class of younger boys and two locations because of her work.

Choosing the Right Kids

In order to become a part of House of Blue Hope the children have to show a willingness to dedicate their days to improving their lives and the lives of the other children at House of Blue Hope. Not every child is willing to make this choice and before children are allowed into the program people like our Social Worker, Sabas, ensure that they are willing to work hard at school and respect the other rules of House of Blue Hope.

 

Constantly Expanding Circle of Believers

Blue Hearts for Blue Hope is the kind of program that House of Blue Hope depends on.  A group of teachers, many of whom had never been to Tanzania nor met a child from House of Blue Hope, created a program for House of Blue Hope to increase awareness and raise funds.

Happy 5 Year Anniversary!

Today, February 15th, the House of Blue Hope Foundation turns 5 years old!  Over the past five years we have gone from supporting 4 kids in a rented room to now supporting 18 kids through school, owning our own building, renting a second  building, and instituting a variety of weekend and evening holistic  educational programs, all in the effort to drastically alter the lives of street children through education.  It’s been quite the journey!
Thank you for all your support and encouragement throughout the past five years.  We look forward to many more anniversaries and hope you will continue to support our mission and the children in the program.  Thank you!
Help us continue our success by donating here.

Blue Hope Welcomes Newest Board Member

We are honored to introduce the newest board member for House of Blue hope, Liam Ahearn!   Liam graduated from Georgetown University in 2005 with a BA in Economics and History.  At Georgetown University, Liam was also the Director of Community Service for the college’s local chapter of the Society of Collegiate Scholars.  Liam became friends with Billy Bludgus when they were classmates and teammates at St. Peter’s Prep High School in Jersey City where they also participated in a number of Christian service activities together.  Liam is inspired by the cause of the House of Blue Hope and the dedication and commitment of its staff.

Liam works as a Director at Capstone Advisory Group in New York where he provides consulting services to companies and creditors involved in distressed/bankruptcy situations.  Please join us in welcoming Liam to the team!

Thank you to St. Mary’s

President and Founder Billy Bludgus spent last weekend speaking at all of the Masses at St. Mary’s parish in Bayonne, NJ.  St. Mary’s has been a huge support in the founding and growth of Blue Hope since the project’s birth.  During this past visit, the people of St. Mary’s generously gave $2650 in the second collections during the Masses.  The House of Blue Hope is so grateful for the continued support and partnership with the people of St. Mary’s!

The Year in Review!

Highlights

2011 Expenses Breakdown

  • Seven boys between the ages of six and eleven, most of which had never attended any formal school, successfully completed their first year with exceptional grades!
  • Loyola Secondary School accepted two more House of Blue Hope boys.  This school has a reputation for excellence and preparing its students for college, we at House of Blue Hope continue to strive to give our kids the best Tanzania has to offer.
  • Five boys in the program graduate from Form 4 (the equivalent to High School in the United States).  Form 4 graduates are able to enter college or obtain a wide variety of well paying jobs in Tanzania.
  • Two boys passed the entrance exam and will begin study at one of the best college prep schools in Dar es Salaam.
  • An English teacher, George Mbago, begins regular classes for children at the house.  He is the newest addition to the House of Blue Hope

    House of Blue Hope Growth 2007-2011

    team and has over twenty years of teaching experience.

  • A water well was donated by The International School of Tanganyika (IST) Alumni Association.  House of Blue Hope now has its own source for safe, clean and easily accessible water.  Blue Hope is the official charity of IST Alumni and they continue to support the hopes and dreams of Tanzania’s most disenfranchised youth.

 

Happy New Year!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support of the House of Blue Hope.  We look forward to our continued good work with immense hope.  May the gratitude and hope of the holiday season be with all of us, our families, and our friends in Tanzania for the upcoming year.  Happy New Year!

And don’t forget to make your year end contribution to Blue Hope!  House of Blue Hope is a 501c3 not-for-profit charity that exists through the generosity of individuals and businesses throughout the United States and beyond.  Your gift is tax deductible and you can donate here.  Thank you!

Letter from the President – 2011

Dear House of Blue Hope Family,

The work which we do together both for and with the youth of Tanzania simultaneously fills me with gratitude and hope all year round –

Justin hard at work with his studies

gratitude for all we have done thus far, and hope for all we are poised to do as we move forward as an organization and as a community.  One month ago, at our annual Board Retreat, we reflected on these two pillars of our collective core as we broke bread each evening.  As I write to you

today, after Thanksgiving and awaiting the December holiday season, I find myself in even more deeply and intimately immersed in gratitude and hope than usual.

As I wandered between retail clothing stores yesterday, I was struck by that constant tension between the consumerism and materialism of some parts of the world and the poverty of other corners of our globe.  I wondered how much workers were paid to sew the shirts I was purchasing, and what their working conditions are like.  I pondered how many pencils and notebooks could be bought for children who thirst for education with the money I was paying for a couple personal items.  I constantly struggle with the structures which perpetuate drastic economic disparities among the members of our human family, and I wonder how I and how we at the House of Blue Hope can do more to work for social and economic justice.

As is reflected in our organizational motto, we believe that education is the most effective vehicle through which we can empower and support impoverished and underprivileged youth in their struggle to overcome their challenging realities and to build a positive, productive, and sustainable future for themselves, their families, and their communities.  We have big plans for our work in Tanzania this upcoming year, and it includes all of us!  Of course, I will ask that each of us considers making a personally meaningful contribution to our annual appeal which is included in this mailing.  However, I would also encourage us all to become involved in our work in other ways as well.  Also included here is an invitation for our first Blue Hope supporters’ trip to Tanzania; consider joining us for a journey of a lifetime!  There are also a number of ways to

Boys having fun

get your workplace, school, place of worship, or community organization involved in our mission.  Feel free to reach out to me directly with any interest or ideas.

I am closing this letter with the same two sentiments with which I began – gratitude and hope.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support of the House of Blue Hope, and I look forward to our continued good work with immense hope.  May the gratitude and hope of the holiday season be with all of us, our families, and our friends in Tanzania for the upcoming year.

Kwa Shukrani na Tumaini,

–Billy Bludgus

President and Founder

 

Double Your Impact!

When you donate to House of Blue Hope, make sure to check with your employer to see if they will match donations.  It is a simple and easy way to double your donation!  Ask your employer or search this list here.  Thank you!

UM Alumni Team Up to Help Orphans in Haiti and Tanzania

Steven M. Kirby is the founder of H.E.R.O., a charity founded to provide housing, education, and rehabilitation for orphans and street children in Haiti Steve is also one of the newest board members of House of Blue Hope (HBH).  This is his letter to his H.E.R.O. supporters after this past weekend’s HBH annual board retreat:

 

The only possible method of solving the problems in this world is if we work together.  It has been best said by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  This statement is very true when applied to the context of individuals and organizations helping to provide life opportunities for the street children and orphans of this world.  What I have found is that there are many small groups working to benefit the orphaned and abandoned children of this world, but unfortunately, these small groups often fail to work together for the greater good.  Instead, it is a battle over donors, funds, space, and notoriety.  It is for this particular reason that I was excited to participate in a Board of Directors retreat for a non-profit organization that is working to save the street children and orphans of Tanzania.  House of Blue Hope, is an organization founded by Billy Bludgus, a University of Miami alum and friend.  During the retreat I had the opportunity to learn about the amazing work of HBH in Tanzania and take away important nuggets of information that will help me make H.E.R.O. a better residence for orphans here in Haiti.

I was invited to join the Board of Directors of House of Blue Hope 6 months ago.  Three of the current board members are University of Miami Alumni, a school from which I earned both my B.S.Ed. and M.S.Ed.  HBH started with a rented room and a few kids and has now grown to owning their own residence, renting out another, and they currently enroll 19 children.  I am truly amazed at the work that HBH has accomplished in such a short time frame and I hope that H.E.R.O. can achieve similar success.  At the retreat we discussed mundane topics such as amending the constitution, but we were also able to talk about important aspects of our work including education, housing, and social integration.  While Tanzania and Haiti are two countries geographically distant, they share many similarities, especially with regard to infrastructure, development, educational opportunities, and employment.  The retreat allowed me to learn about Tanzania, House of Blue Hope, and best practices for running a residence for orphans, while at the same time sharing my experiences building H.E.R.O. from the ground up.  All in all, it was a very rewarding retreat.

The lesson that I take away from this experience is that while yes, Margaret Mead’s statement is absolutely correct, even more can be accomplished when these small groups of citizens come together to share experiences, work on solutions, and create a better world.  While the collaboration between HBH and H.E.R.O. is commendable, I wish for the same opportunities for other organizations in Haiti.  In the end, we have to remember that the work we do in Haiti is not for accolades or awards, but for the benefit of the street children and orphans.  I will continue to reach out to organizations in Haiti, as I have done so since the inception of H.E.R.O., and pray that these organizations decide that it isn’t competition, but collaboration that is needed in this country.   Only then, will we truly succeed!

Sincerely,

Steven M. Kirby, Ed.D