Bola Moyo = Better Life

Bola Moyo logo

A good friend I knew from the design program at Chico State, Cara Pattison, shocked me and our classmates by leaving the design field after finishing school. Yet, in a sense, she really hasn’t left design behind. Since graduating, she and her husband Dustin, have since started a non-profit called Bola Moyo (which means ‘better life’) to work with Africans in Balaka, Malawi at the grassroots level. They aim to:

…mobilize and support African communities in response to poverty, suffering, and inequality. Our vision is to see thousands of Africans empowered, living free from the oppression of poverty and disease, and realizing their potential to live productive and purposeful lives.

Cara was in the Pasadena area over the weekend, and we finally got to catch up yesterday after a few years going in our own directions. I heard stories and got to see pictures of the kids and staff they interact with, as well as the House of Many Stories Youth Centre where they have created a welcoming after school program for the kids in the Balaka area. These after-school programs started to provide a nurturing place to play and have expanded to give a needed education supplement in English and Math. Its all run by locals and Cara and Dustin are only there three months out of the year. They have many other plans in the works to continue making strides to help the youth’s chances of succeeding in further education and life in general.

Though she wouldn’t say so, I think Cara is a still very much a designer. Of course she handles their graphics for the organization – see the identity above and their website (which she whipped after simply sitting through a tutorial with dreamweaver), there is more going on. In the larger picture Cara with her husband are drawing from process-based clear thinking and problem solving innate in the practice of design to carry out the very mission of their organization. They are intentional about hearing the needs of their clients (people in the Malawi community) and brainstorming and developing solutions to meet the goal (addressing HIV/AIDS, better education, quality of life) in a holistic way for both the long and short term.

I’m finding designers, whether in a studio job or not, tend to use these innate skills in what they’re engaged with. Bola Moyo get me excited because Cara is using her skills along with those of her husband, her staff and many volunteers to benefit the marginalized who need it most.

Cara and Dustin – keep up the wonderful work. Thanks for sharing your journey!

To find out more and support Bola Moyo, see their website and follow their blog.

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