this and that

My Favorite Nonprofit | Christmas in July with Balsam Hill

We had just finished volunteering at a school for the day and had driven several miles away when our rickety bus broke down. We all piled out and stood around in groups, waiting to see how bad the damage was.

Within minutes, I felt little arms encircle my waist from both sides. There were no buildings in sight, but children started appearing out of the brush.

We barely spoke the same language, but I could see flecks of glitter on their hands and faces, so I knew they had been in my class that day.

That evening, with their whole hearts, they offered what they could give—companionship. I’ll always remember those glittered little faces passing the hours with us.

Ten years ago this month, I spent a few weeks in Zambia, Africa with a fantastic, Utah-based organization, Mothers Without Borders.

It blows my mind that it’s been a decade. It doesn’t feel nearly that long.

In a stroke of perfect timing, Balsam Hill recently asked me about working with them to promote a charity of my choice. Considering this summer is the anniversary of having my life changed forever, saying yes and choosing Mothers Without Borders was a no-brainer.

Mothers Without Borders’ mission is to contribute sustainable solutions to the global orphan crisis. What I love most about this organization is that in addition to the other work they do in Africa, they house more than thirty orphans in a family setting.

Kids who had almost nothing before coming into the home have found themselves with a family and a new sense of belonging. I’ve watched them sing and dance on their dusty porch in the setting sun.

Here at Let Why Lead, I talk about building families that are so full of love and belonging that our children derive a deep sense of identity from our family units. On the opposite side of the world, Mothers Without Borders is helping 22 beautiful children have a second chance at that. It’s a perfect fit.

So if you’ve been looking for a nonprofit to support, I’ll give you my two cents: this is a great one. If you’re interested in going to Africa, go with MWB! If you’ve considered sponsoring a child, you can do it through them!


If you happen to have a few extra dollars in the family budget this month, you can donate by clicking here. Balsam Hill is matching donations, which is pretty awesome. And if you donate $25, they’ll send you a Christmas ornament.

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We love the ornaments they sent us! (Can you see our reflections in the gold ball?)

Have I thanked you lately for reading Let Why Lead? Thank you so much. It really means the world to me. For more info on this Christmas-in-July charity event, click here. And if you have any questions about Mothers Without Borders or the fundraiser, feel free to ask! Thank you to anyone who considers donating. You all have a great week!

  • Sarah
    July 15, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Love this story and the photo of you.

  • Liz
    July 16, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    A family in our old ward went to Africa with that group a couple years ago. It was the mom and her son after his senior year. Her daughter just graduated and they went to Haiti for their trip with another charity. They loved both.

    • Erica Layne
      July 16, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      That’s awesome, Liz! Ryan’s parents did something similar with each child. (Except when it was Ryan’s turn to pick, he picked mountain biking in Moab, a whole couple hours from their house. 🙂 In hindsight, I think he’s choose something different. 🙂

  • Dagmar Obert
    July 28, 2014 at 6:18 am

    “Hi Erica! This is truly wonderful. You chose a really impressive charity and I think you’re raising the idea of motherhood to another level, which I find so intriguing. Today, the daunting task of mothering is often placed as a second job or something you do on the side. But what they don’t know is that it’s essential in forming the relationship patterns of the next generations.

    Working for Mothers Without Borders sounds like a challenging and gruelling task, but it also feels like it’s one of those things that you fall in love with and changes you for the rest of your life. Thank you for your insight, for telling us about the marvelous job the charity is doing, and for reminding us that there’s nothing more rewarding than providing help, support, and genuine kindness to those who need it the most.


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