On Kula and Transformation: A Post-Earth Day Reflection

This is a guest post by Maggie Carruth, M.S., M.Div.
It was August of 2011 when I met Sarah Buchanan. We had both joined the Table & Main team before the restaurant’s debut in Historic Downtown Roswell. She was an experienced bartender and I was a newbie server. On the days we worked together, I took any chance I could get to hang out behind the bar to blow off some steam, share a laugh, or munch on candy or Goldfish. Our friendship outside of work grew pretty quickly as we both realized that aside from having many things in common, our personalities just meshed well. #Chemistry. Unfortunately, our work lives together came to an end after a year and a half when I left T&M to better juggle seminary and my internship. But, we did our best to stay in touch.

Fast forward to the Monday (April 21, 2014) before Earth Day at 9:30 in the morning. I found myself literally sitting on the edge of my seat in front of the TV as I watched Sarah, former T&M bartender extraordinaire/co-founder of the Kula Project, humbly and excitingly introduce Kula Project to Atlanta with the help of a CBS Better Mornings Atlanta reporter. She was all smiles. Pure joy exuded from her being. As she shared Kula’s story – a story that honors and values the history, experiences, and future possibilities of the Rwandan community – I thought to myself, “Wow.”

The following evening my boyfriend and I rode our bikes up Howell Mill Road to Monday Night Brewing where Kula was holding a fundraiser/Earth Day event. We arrived 30 minutes early to see and be a part of the last minute set-up. What a sight! There was a cute little table designated for the Kula Market items near the entrance. There was a photo booth in the back with a table full of farmer themed props. There was an iPad set up on one of the bar tables for donations. There was a 5-piece band! There was a hotdog stand!! And free organic lettuce!!!
And then 30 minutes later, as the clock struck 7pm and the event officially began, there were the people. Unfortunately, I cannot give you an exact number but there were enough people there to invest $3,000 towards the lives of Rwandan farmers, specifically the Kaburabuza family. Now let me give you some exact numbers.

$3,000 is enough money to fund 165 banana trees and 330 coffee trees for the Kaburabuzas.

Over the average life of these trees, the Kaburabuza family will earn $39,382.

That number is enough money to send 11 kids to school for 12 years.

That is enough money to buy 13,784 meals for the family.

That is enough money to provide medical insurance for 10 people for 33 years.

Are you kidding me?!?

You see, what the Kula Project team has already done and is doing is quite breathtaking. In their passion for service with this unequivocal type of hope buried in the notion that every person’s story matters, they are transforming communities – intelligently, passionately, and sustainably. And guess what? It is not just the Rwandan communities that are living and experiencing this progressive and positive change; it is us, too.

I would bet a big wad of money that every single person who attended that awesome event was transformed in some way. Maybe their hearts pitter-pattered at the pictures of the Rwandan farmers the Kula team met earlier this year. Maybe their wallets got a tiny bit thinner after understanding the story behind the handmade Kula Market items. Maybe they tweeted to their friends about this new and upcoming non-profit, using the hashtag, #ForTheFarmer. Maybe they were simply inspired by Kula’s passion and work. Whatever the case, transformation happened. I used to think how amazing it was that Kula would forever be a part of the Rwandan story. But after that event, I realized how widespread Kula’s message has become and will become. Transformation is not limited to anyone or anything; it is for everyone and everything.

By Maggie Carruth, M.S., M.Div.


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