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What it means to turn 16

Do you remember your 16th birthday? For me, it was an important milestone – a transition from having to ask for rides to the freedom of driving my own car. Flying down the freeway in my yellow ’76 VW Bug with the engine roaring, gave me a sense of joy and excitement. (Don’t worry; the car maxed out at 65 mph!)

Tanya in her VW Bug

Tanya Cothran at 16 years old in her VW Bug!

But the car also brought responsibilities. My sister and I had to learn how to push start the car from second gear and figure out how it was going to pass the smog check. It was worth it, though!

On May 5th, Spirit in Action will celebrate its 16th anniversary and I think it will also bring the same mixed sense of joy and responsibility. We have the sense of moving forward – the wind in our hair, so to speak – the excitement of really changing lives and communities in Africa. Meeting SIA change-makers and community organizers last summer was a real thrill. At the anniversary event, I’ll share about Canaan Gondwe, who is one of SIA’s great role models effecting change in his village in rural Malawi.

Our “sweet sixteen” birthday also brings responsibility for Spirit in Action. We must figure out how to stay true to Del’s dream and innovate to provide the best support to our worldwide partners. I’ll be moving to Toronto, Canada this summer and we’ll have to work out some details regarding that change. I’ll keep you posted as we settle into these new situations.

Sharing the Gift

The motivation for the silent auction part of this celebration came after Boyd and I met with the Small Business Fund Coordinators in Kenya last summer. We were showered with beautiful gifts from our SIA partners and rather than keep them all for ourselves (as tempting as that was!) we recognized the chance to share the gift! Each of these items are an opportunity to take a bit of SIA home with you and also support more SIA craft businesses. Click here to see the full list of auction items. Here is a taste of our unique auction offerings (click on image for larger copy):

Handmade briefcase

Handmade briefcase by SIA partners in DR Congo. Wonderful leather work. Boyd has his eye on this one!

Clay pot

Clay pot made by SIA Small Business craftspeople in Uganda. Safely brought back in our suitcases.

Decorative carved wood

Decorative carved wood from SIA craftspeople in Malawi.

Necklace with wooden animal beads

Necklace with wooden animal beads made by orphans at Samuel Teimuge's school in Kenya.

Leather patchwork purse from SIA partners in DR Congo. Distinctive and beautiful.

P.S. I hope that you will be able to join us in the celebration! You can RSVP to me at, or 831-227-1169. If you can’t be there and you want to put an initial bid on any of the items, email me and I’ll put your name on the list!

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