10 Years of Tifie Looking Back, Looking Forwad: Reflections from Angé Workman

 

Tifie Humanitarian has been around much longer than 10 years, at least in spirit. Robert and Angé Workman’s desire to do humanitarian work began many years ago. They were unsure of where the desire would go at the time but Angé knew they would make it happen.

We recently interviewed Angé–asking her to look back through the past 10 years of Tifie’s ventures–and what she’s discovered is how much personal growth has happened during that time.

Development in DRC: Hand Out to Hand Up 

Angé’s first trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was in November, 2007, where she visited one of the first farms and orphanage Tifie was involved with. Through the years she saw the changes that can take place when people are given access to electricity, ability to build better homes and the knowledge and resources to running a business. Seeing homes evolve from mud-brick and thatched roofs that melt during the rainy season, to having metal roofs with lights inside was just one of the things she remembers.

The DRC Orphanage

Angé Workman in 2010 with two girls from the DRC Tifie Youth Center
Although Tifie does not directly own the orphanage anymore, the children continue to receive support for their education, job training and personal growth. (Angé in 2010 with two girls from the DRC youth center)

She recalled visiting the young children in the orphanage–though most of them teenagers and adults by now–and seeing the condition they were in. The first orphanage was quite small, the children didn’t sleep on beds. The only source of water came from a spigot in the yard and she was unsure of how clean it was.

Through the years she saw a lot of changes to the orphanage; moving the kids to a new facility, getting them beds, separate bedrooms and bathrooms for boys and girls (which became more important as the kids matured), clean water and a kitchen with a stove. The children were put into school, as many were not in school before, and received consistent daily meals.

Angé believes that the work in DRC helped each child individually, but what is for certain, is that the lessons she learned from those early years in DRC left a lasting impression on herself.

Q: How did your experiences in the DRC touch you personally?

“I was very touched, to see the conditions people live in but at the same time they are very happy–they don’t have a lot. We don’t need a lot of things to make us happy. So I learned a great lesson there. I think I already knew that but it was just cemented in that they were happy and they could exist without a lot of fancy things in their lives and they were able to learn and find joy in the simplicity.

Another thing I saw at the beginning was everybody was reaching out with their hands expecting something to be given to them. And we never did that, we always required that work be done to receive anything. But after we’d been there a few times we didn’t see people reaching out with their hands expecting us to give them something anymore.”

Some of Tifie’s earlier projects in DRC also included agriculture, brick making and trucking. (DRC, 2008)

Teaching Individuals and Families Independence through Enterprise is where Tifie’s namesake comes from. Teaching people to thrive and not just giving them things is what Tifie’s mission has been from the beginning.

The work and people in DRC is not the only thing that has done it’s evolving. Through the years, Tifie Humanitarian has changed the way it operates for individuals and communities it serves. (More on that to come as we reflect on lessons learned through the years.) And perhaps, for this reason, Angé has felt that the recent work Tifie is doing has impacted her even more.

A Different African Experience: Ghana 

Angé first visited Ghana in 2015 with the mission to power education. The Kushea Community Partnership is

Angé Workman installs Goal Zero solar power in Kushea community
Angé installing solar power in a Kushea sewing shop during her first trip in 2015.

the perfect example of what happens when like-minded people come together with good intent. A partnership created out of our connection and collaboration with Point Innovate, King Nana Prah and Goal Zero. The goal of Project Kushea is to provide sustainable power for the community so individuals, families, and businesses can finally provide for themselves.

She recalls her first trip there feeling similar to that of Congo, aside from some of the infrastructure being more developed within the city but even has you drove out of the city she saw a lot of mud-brick homes with thatched roofs.

Yet, as she arrived in Kushea for the first time, it was an impressive sight. Many of the homes were made of real brick and painted. They had glass windows and metal roofs. It even had paved roads and and streets. She attributes this village’s success and progression to it’s leader, Nana Prah–who has been King over the area for 30 plus year and continually finds ways to grow and develop Kushea. She believes they are much farther along than what she saw in Congo because their leader had vision to help them rise up. In fact, a lot of Kushea has access to electricity–although it’s not always the most reliable–because Prah worked with the government to get it there.

Nana Prah has Kushea citizens work together to clean up trash, and other maintenance so everyone feels ownership in successful community development
On “Community Work Day”, everyone takes to the streets to clean up trash and take care of community buildings. It’s a great example of how a community takes ownership in their own success and development.

“He even had trash barrels that he’d place all over town with the colors of the Ghananian flag and he expected people to pick up their trash! If he was driving through the village he would honk his horn if he saw some trash on the ground [and] people would right away pick it up because they knew.”

Angé’s recent trip to Kushea in March 2017 has been one of her most memorable because they were able to install solar power into a school and village that previously had no power. Having access to power at night means kids can study, families can spend time together, and that community events like weddings or classes can occur.

Local school children and the Ghana install team gathered at night to experience the newly installed lights in a classroom that had never had power or light before.

During this last trip Angé was personally able to interview some of the villagers. When interviewing one of the health professionals at Kushea’s health clinic, it became apparent that living without power can be devastating.

“The main clinic doctor told me that one time a family brought in a child and the electricity was off. They couldn’t do any testing of the blood to see what the problem was. There wasn’t anything they could do because it was dark. So the parents ended up leaving and the child died. So it was very impactful for that health care professional to not want that to happen again.”

Through the past 10 years Tifie has sought to do good. From it’s early days with trying to teach entrepreneurship through creating businesses, to where it is now by partnering with people on the ground. Sometimes the work affects one person, a family or an entire community. But as Angé and Robert have expressed, the good we do always makes an impact on the person doing it. Angé has learned that building relationships on a personal level has made the biggest impact on herself, especially as she reflected on the “then” and “now”.

Angé interviewing recipients of solar power systems in Ghana. Getting to know and connect with people on an individual level has been one of her favorite and most impactful experiences.

Angé Workman Maternity Clinic surprise and connection with Family Legacy

A special tribute commissioned by Robert awaited Angé during their March 2017 trip. Tifie has worked on projects centered around maternal health, like One Heart and Safe Shelter Nepal, and are proud to support a place that welcomes the next generation into a clean and safe environment.

The Angé Workman Maternity Clinic was a surprise to Angé and she was very touched. Especially because of the connection to midwifery through her family. Her father Arnold Branham being a male midwife, a great great grandmother through her mother LaRae Mills, have been involved with and passionate about midwifery. Angé herself delivered all of her eight children at home. In fact, her father delivered her oldest, Tara Tulley, who also went on to become a midwife.

“It was very touching. I was surprised how emotional I was about it. The legacy of home-birthing is in our family. But after interviewing some of the health care people at the health center, I truly understand why so many women still want to give birth at home. But, now there is a more comfortable option.”

The Angé Maternity Ward Clinic was a complete surprise to Angé and a fitting tribute to her family legacy and involvement in maternal health.

Tifie’s overall impact on Angé and what she hopes for its future

Robert and Angé Workman are made king and queen of development in Kushea
Robert and Angé Workman are made king and queen of development in Kushea by Prah in 2015.

Q: What differences have you had in your life before Tifie started and where you are right now?

“I’ve always loved learning languages and experiencing other cultures. I wasn’t able to do it for many years because I was raising a family and that was okay.

But now that I’ve been able to do it, it makes me more aware of culture and to be respectful of culture and not just assume that the way I do things is the best way to do things.

I think it helps me to be more empathetic and understanding and more willing to open my mind to ways of doing things. Hopefully it has helped me to have greater love for all mankind. That’s something I didn’t really quite understand when I was younger but now I can say that I truly can love people that I don’t even know.”

Q: What do you think makes Tifie Different?

“One hundred percent of any money or donations that come in directly go to help the project. They do not go to any kind of operating cost–at all.  And that’s a big thing. People don’t even believe that. I know that sometimes people say, ‘yeah right,’ and kind of poo poo that, but it’s true.”

Angé Workman gather impact report from Kushea Citizens
Tifie continues forward by partnering with people on the ground who have the same vision and passion of providing their own basic needs.

Q: What do you hope for Tifie for the future?

“As long as we can afford to keep doing it without having to seek donations, which we don’t like. We’ve changed the way Tifie operates. It works better to have someone on the ground that works in the culture, knows the culture, is part of the culture.

That has been much better way to go forward. But we aren’t trying to reinvent everything and we just give people tools. It may be in the way of money, it might be in the way of solar, it might be in the way of seeds or knowledge–whatever tools they need. And that’s the way we foresee that Tifie will continue to go into the future.”

Give Light, Share Power

Since Tifie’s inception in 2007, we’ve been playing with power. How can we help people provide for themselves in a sustainable way? How can we get light into these homes? How can we provide a sustainable product that won’t be abandoned after a few years? These questions led Robert to develop Goal Zero products, alongside other talented engineers, designers and dreamers.

Dave Rosner has been with Goal Zero since the beginning. He’s been involved in dozens of installs around the world. Besides being an amazing technician and human, he has captured the magic of why power is so essential to helping people lift themselves out of poverty and begin to dream about their future.

Thoughts from Dave

There is a moment that is incredible to witness. This moment is when a child finds limitless potential. This moment makes families feel safer in their homes. This moment infects the deepest darkest corners of the world with hope. This moment has the potential to improve a life, save a community, or even change the world. This moment is the moment when the underprivileged, the destitute, and the forgotten are given a chance. There is no moment like it. This is the moment of light. When the powerless receive power; free of generators, kerosene, lung infections, or darkness. This powerful moment, both figurative and literal, empowers those involved from all sides. This moment brings education, health, and safety with a simple light. This is a moment that Goal Zero has fostered around the world.

Millions of families are living in homes too dimly lit to read, and the realization of the impact that Goal Zero’s products can have is truly amazing. Throughout the world children must breathe fumes from a lantern to complete their homework. In too many areas the day ends when darkness begins. Even in the world’s most advanced areas, like New York during Hurricane Sandy, all the comforts of technology can be removed in a moment’s notice. The simple combination of a solar panel, battery, and an LED provides the resources to defeat this hindrance to a better life. Be they domestic or abroad, Goal Zero’s reliable power has brought this first light into the homes of those who need it most around the world. Although it is but a light, something so taken for granted, can also be the spark that changes a life. Goal Zero doesn’t just provide solar power to those who need our products. At Goal Zero we provide the moments that can’t be forgotten, and the power that allows us to share their smiles.

Hope in Marrakesh

When the Workman’s visited the Women’s Center back in March, Robert said that there was something in their joyful smiles and bright eyes that moved him to want to help. Some women in the Center are single mothers who are supporting their families, some are aspiring fashion designers, and some are future entrepreneurs. We experienced the light of their eyes and were moved by the conversations we had with many of the women we met that week.

One morning, we took a trip to a women’s co-op in the outskirts of Marrakesh. We walked into a small apartment and saw posters about domestic violence, nutrition and reproductive health awareness. We saw women laughing around a table, painting, sewing and reading. We talked to their leader, an amazing woman named Norah, who has made it her life’s mission to build communities in poor areas of Marrakesh, providing safety, literacy and sewing classes for women.

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Norah is passionate about teaching women how to protect and provide for themselves. She proudly told us about the dozens of other co-ops that she runs free of charge throughout the city, some focused on gardening, others on childcare, others on raising chickens. She goes door to door in neighborhoods to invite women to the programs. She is creative in solving community problems and providing women with the resources and skills to truly meet market needs while increasing their personal skills and confidence. When we complemented her constant smile, she said, “Shouldn’t we smile when we are doing humanitarian work?”

Indeed and Amen.

Meg Merill was our trip photographer and said that this visit was one of the highlights of her trip. “It was so cool to see that these women who have close to nothing can still find happiness and independence in their lives. Their smiles were contagious and they were so welcoming to us! They can create amazing pieces of art out of just a few materials.”

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We were so thankful that Norah shared her story with us, and that she provides a safe place for women to be seen and heard. We heard the sadness behind their stories, saw the shiny glimmer in their eyes, and felt the motivations of their heart. Not just the women we met in Morocco, but the six of us women traveling together on this trip. Email, phone calls and quick visits in the lunchroom are great, but something amazing happens when you have face-to-face, heart-to-heart time with one another over a couple of days. When you share your time, your heart, or your story, you make space for each other to say, “you too?” or “I had no idea” or “I’m sorry” and “You’re amazing. “

At the end of the day, we all are sharing a human experience. And part of that experience is connecting to each other. Being seen. Being Heard. Being smiled at. Being welcomed into another person’s story.

Thank you for being part of our story and the women in Marrakesh’s story, and we hope that as the Tifie Community grows, we get to be part of yours too.

Finding Independence in Marrakesh

Did you know Tifie is an acronym? It stands for Teaching Individuals and Families Independence through Enterprise. On our recent trip to Morocco, we experienced the power of these words firsthand.

Tifie supports a school in Marrakesh for women who are re-entering the job force and are learning skills of cosmetology, IT, childcare and sewing. These women were a collective force of passion and excitement, and were as different from one another as you could imagine: women in every decade of life, married, single, mothers, grandmothers, conservative, liberal, first-time students, in dresses, in pants… But there were two common elements – hopeful smiles and a desire to be independent.

I sat down with several women in the Sewing Program, asking them about their experience at the school and their dreams. Each woman had a unique reason of why she was there:

  • “I love to work and I want to be more efficient in my sewing, not an amateur.”
  • “Sewing has sparked creativity in me to pursue my dreams and partner with my friends at the school to form a collective. 5 minds are better than 1!”
  • “I want to start my own business and provide for my family.”
  • “I want to fill my time with something good, and be able to help my husband provide a better life and better school for my children.”

We heard from them that they desired to be independent, to have the resources to provide for their families, to work and create income in a trade they are proud of. We were able to meet their children and celebrate with them when we attended the FIRST GRADUATING CLASS of the school while we were there. We danced, we sang, we clapped, we celebrated with over 40 women who are on their way to their next exciting dream. Be thankful we don’t have the video footage of them pulling us onto the stage to dance with them. 😛

We are thankful and expectant for the seeds of hope that the Grand Atlas Association is sowing and can’t wait to see the exciting businesses, co-ops, and creativity that will come from these bright and beautiful women.

To find out more about the project and how you can help visit the project page here.

Skilled Birth Attendants in Nepal

Shradha, 31, was seven months pregnant when the earthquake hit Nepal. Her obstetric history was complicated, with several consecutive pregnancies ending in miscarriage or late-term natal death. A visiting Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV) advised her as to the high-risk nature of her pregnancy, but she was unable to attend regular checkups. This was further hindered by the earthquakes, which severely damaged the only birthing center in Shradha’s district.

Shradha started experiencing early labor pains, and the family was very concerned that previous complications would reoccur. With neighbors’ help, Shradha was taken to a birthing tent set up by One Heart World-Wide and Tifie, where a Skilled Birth Attendant was also present. The delivery was a long one, as the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck, but with the SBA’s help, Shradha finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy the next day. She required considerable monitoring after the birth, with signs of uterine prolapse and blood loss. The SBA also provided guidance on breastfeeding, changing the dressings, and family planning.


Every woman deserves a safe birth experience. One Heart World-Wide has developed a unique model of care called the Network of Safety which has been shown to reliably reduce preventable maternal and newborn deaths in remote, rural areas.

The Network of Safety focuses on training community members, healthcare professionals, and new mothers in lifesaving skills and safe birthing practices. One Heart implements the model in partnership with local communities and governments, working within existing infrastructures to ensure cultural and logistical sustainability with expectant mothers at the center.

Thousands of women in Nepal remain in need of maternal healthcare, and preventable maternal and neonatal deaths is still a cause for concern. While the government continues to push for institutionalized deliveries, several roadblocks remain. One Heart World-Wide’s primary focus in on accessible, quality care, especially in the wake of the earthquakes, through trained SBAs and birthing tents. Prenatal care, monitoring, and safe deliveries drastically improve the chances for women and babies to survive and thrive past birth. The skilled birth attendants’ challenge is to create an intimate relationship to prioritize the health and well-being of a stranger, and in the One Heart model, also goes beyond official birthing centers to take portable clinics and care to houses and rural outposts. Community outreach volunteers, skilled birth attendants, medical equipment, and a safe environment with electricity are all critical to the survival and health of both babies and mothers. Tifie Humanitarian’s collaboration with One Heart on the Barebones birthing tents are an important part of the accessibility and institutionalization process in Sindhulpalchok and Dhading districts, bringing birthing centers and a sustainable system of care to areas where they are needed most.

Rebecca’s Story

The trip I went on for Tifie was to the Philippines.  We went in May of 2014, 6 months after the storm hit the area.

The tents we were setting up were located on a piece of land that was owned by a local family.  They cleared out part of their sugar cane crops to create a community for these tents.  The tents were designated for the families of the farm workers in the area.  As we were setting up I asked a family about their experience during the storm.

They told me that when the storm hit, the only place they could go was out into very field we were setting up the tents – to the sugar cane crops.  They put their small children underneath their own body and wrapped their arms and legs around the sugar cane and held on.  They were out in the field for over 7 hours while the storm came through.

Out of all the stories I heard, and the devastation I saw, this story hit home.  I could still see the fear in their eyes of what if.  They wanted to protect their children and themselves, but what if they could only hold on for an hour?  What if the sugar cane roots where not strong enough?  What if the storm didn’t end?

I asked if she was afraid of more storms and she had a smile on her face and said, no – because now she knows how to survive one!

She is truly an inspiration to me.  Throughout the storms of my life – I know I can make it.  Each time I go through one I learn more about how to make it through the next one!

This is Rebecca’s story, what’s yours?

Cinnamon Rolls For A Cause

The Moir family raised over $1,000 for #SafeShelterNepal in August by selling cinnamon rolls in their community, this is their story.  

Our family wanted to help after seeing the news story on KSL where Safe Shelter Nepal was featured. As I watched the information and heard that in the days following the earthquake, in Nepal, mothers had to deliver their babies on the streets broke my heart. As a mother I couldn’t imagine delivering a baby in such harsh circumstances. I felt that, although we live in very different circumstances we were united as mothers. I felt a connection to these woman; we are both trying to do the same thing, love and nurture our children.

There were two very meaningful parts of this experience. The first was to be able to witness the goodness of others. Many people donated so generously and we felt humbled to be able to see that. One family had saved up extra cash through the year, put it in jars, and donated the money to struggling families during the holiday season. They were never able to find a place to give their last jar and were waiting for the “right” place to give the money. They told me when they heard about our cinnamon roll drive for Nepal they knew that is where the money needed to go.  On the lid of the jar was a sticker that read “I can make a difference”. That phrase is now the background screen on my phone, to remind me that we can all make a small difference in the world.

The second part of this experience that stands out in my mind was delivering the money to TIFIE.  They made it an EXPERIENCE for my family. They showed us the actual tents that serve as birthing centers for the Nepalese women and told us what a difference it makes for them to have a safe, clean place to deliver their babies. We were all touched and inspired to be able to see the work that is going on at TIFIE, so much so that when we left my seven year old boy turned to me and said, “Mom, I feel like I’m going to cry.” It was amazing to have an experience that evokes these emotions in my kids.

If you have a desire to help and you’re not sure where to start, simply begin by opening your eyes and ears, there are opportunities everywhere!  One thing we learned is how exciting it is to be a part of something good that can make a difference for others. Just begin by taking that first step forward!

This is the Moir’s story, what’s yours?

Halen’s Story

When someone asks me what I do, I don’t have a quick response. Today I might have put together a marketing campaign, updated the website with a project story, met with board members, or wrote thank you notes to donors. Tomorrow might be fundraiser planner, volunteering with a local project partner or outlining goals and objective for a project. And that is just this week!

Tifie’s mission is to support community projects that help marginalized people provide for their own basic needs. The thing that gives me goose bumps about that statement is the word marginalized. People on the outskirts, people who, for some reason, are on the wrong side of the line. And what I’ve learned in the last eight years of working with Tifie is that we all have something to give and receive from each other. We’re more similar that not, with hopes for our future, dreams for our children, pride in our home and love for our families and friends. Isn’t that the heart of community?

I’m honored to work for Tifie and thankful that I get to play a small part in making someone else’s life better. Whether it’s our most recent project of sending safe and dry shelters to midwives and expecting mamas in rural Nepal post-earthquake, or whether it’s sending women in dire need of surgery in Congo solar-powered flashlights to give them a means of light and power to start a business, or it’s… the list goes on. All of our projects have a person, a family, a child who is going to have a better life because of the work we’re doing.

My job is to tell that story and give you all a way to have meaningful and impactful experience when you partner with Tifie.  If you’re excited about volunteering, sustainability, marginalized people, Ghana, education, Peru, agro-businesses, Morocco, second chances, marginalized people, fundraising, refugees, grow beds, solar power, shelter, entrepreneurship, families, single moms, technical skills, the DRC, basic needs story-telling or giving your time, resources or money, we’ve got something you’ll be interested in.

This is Halen’s story, what’s yours?

Tifie’s Guide To Doing Good

We are a firm believer that when you do good, you get good in return. But, if you have never volunteered with an organization before, it can be a bit overwhelming. Well, we know it is a bit cliché to say, but the best thing to do is find what you are passionate about and jump in. But just in case you are still hesitant here is Tifie’s guide to doing good.

Find your passion

Everyone is more likely to succeed when they are fighting for a cause they believe in. Take a look around and see what interests you, then you can search for an organization that shares that same passion.

Reach Out

So you have found the cause you want to fight for? Now it is the big moment of reaching out, don’t be afraid, non-profit companies are always excited to hear from people who share their same passion and want to help. So whether you want to volunteer your time or a skill, they will welcome you with open arms.

Jump In

You just received your first assignment and are all ready to jump in and start helping. What an amazing thing to be a part of, now you can be a volunteer pro and start inviting your friends along for some fun!

Want to learn more about the projects Tifie works with? Head on over to our Discover Projects page to take a look.

 

Lights in Bwe

“The night after we installed solar power in Bwe for the ‘Light a Village’ project in the Congo, we wandered in the village to see who was using their lights that were being powered by Goal Zero batteries. We came upon this hut that had over 30 children crammed inside, all who had paid to come watch a show.  It was the first movie house in Bwe, and one of the first of many businesses born from the ‘Light A Village’ project! Given power and light, it’s amazing to see the ingenuity of what entrepreneurs can create.  Small shops, refrigeration services, cell phone charging – it’s truly endless.

Tifie started because we had a vision for how life can change when someone has a job and can provide for themselves. We had no idea the creative jobs that would be created from the products and tools that we provide.” – Halen, Director of Tifie