The Nobelity Blog is a running series of reports on the film and education work of The Nobelity Project (, including reports from our partner project Mahiga Hope High School in Kenya, and numerous other school projects from our Kenya Schools Fund. The blog also includes reports on our films, including the recent SXSW Audience Award winner, Building Hope, and on our advocacy for specific issues related to a more sustainable and just world for children everywhere.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Good News From Africa

Welcome back to the Nobelity Blog, where my motto should be, “Good News… about two months after it happens.” First of all, I want to thank everyone who supported our water and education projects in Ethiopia and Kenya. I’m back from an inspiring trip to Africa and could not be happier about the progress I saw there.

Water (and More) for St. Joseph Mahiga Primary School

I was met in Nairobi by our friend and partner, Joseph Mutongu, who first took me to the Mahiga Primary School three years ago. After we planted trees at the school, Joseph shared his dream of building a water system for these great kids who were walking long distances to collect surface water that frequently made them sick.

I promised that day to help provide clean water for the school, and that promise was in many ways the beginning of The Nobelity Project. For that, I owe Joseph a great debt of thanks, because a lot of good things in a lot of countries have grown out of his dream.

At the beginning of the Fall semester in September, Joseph and I traveled back to Mahiga for the official inauguration of the school’s new water and electrical systems, and a new Nobelity Project computer lab (I had 8 OLPC laptops for the kids in my bags on the flight to Kenya, and AMD’s Matthew Chetty brought a beautiful HP laptop for the teachers from his office in Capetown).

Mahiga kids with new computer

A new building! – The Nobelity Project Computer Lab

Joseph Mutongu with water storage tanks at Mahiga School

Words cannot do justice to the wonderful welcome we received, and for the appreciation of these 346 kids (and a whole lot of parents) for the improvements at the school. The happiest news was that the District Education Manager was also impressed. St. Joseph Mahiga now the number 1 rated school (out of 600!) in the district! Even better, the district has decided to seek funding to build an adjacent high school so that these great kids can continue their education past grade 8 and have real opportunity in their lives.

Looking out at all those wonderful kids, I made another promise – this time that the Nobelity Project will be a full partner for the construction Mahiga Hope High School. More on this great new effort after the New Year, but first we better catch up with the rest of 2008.

Our Six Wells in Ethiopia

After Kenya, I continued to Ethiopia where I had another inspiring experience checking out the work of A Glimmer of Hope. The Nobelity Project is funding six wells this year with Glimmer, and I had the chance to visit several of these wells as they were under construction. One of the wells had just been drilled and hit water at 150 feet. Two of the hand-dug wells were partially completed, and were already deep enough to be producing large quantities of water. Thanks to our major donors who provided clean water that will literally change the future of these six communities.

Short Films/Big Changes

Our ongoing series of short films is having a great impact on the programs we’ve profiled. Caroline Boudreaux and I showed One Child at a Time at a fundraiser for The Miracle Foundation last weekend, and after the screening at Nav Sooch’s home, TMF raised $300,000! to build a new Village Orphanage in India. Congratulations Caroline!

The next film in the series profiles A Glimmer of Hope’s incredible work in Ethiopia, and will be released before Christmas.
We’ll be producing four of these films each year and need all the monetary support we can get to make these films and spread the word about great work that’s being done all over the world.

The next film profiles Wheels for Humanity and their work to provide wheelchairs to disabled children in the developing world. And in February, I’ll be traveling to Cambodia to film sight restoration camps and clinics with the Seva Foundation, who have restored the sight of 2 million blind people.

If you’d like to make a donation to support Short Films/Big Changes, click here. (Support Short Films/Big Changes)

If you’d like to support the Nobelity in Schools program, where we’ll be providing free dvds of Nobelity and One Peace at a Time to thousands of teachers, click here. (Support Nobelity in Schools)

And if you’d like to make the best type of donation for us – one that can be used for any of our work – we pledge to do good things with your support. (Support the Nobelity Project’s General Fund)

About Me

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People know me from different things I've done, and often seem to remember me from whatever I was doing when our paths first crossed. If you first saw me on television with Harry Anderson or doing stand-up comedy, you may be disappointed in my current level of funny. On the other hand, if you first saw me as that idiot narcoleptic guy in The Sopranos, I could really use a nap, so I'm still playing that part well. The last few years have been occupied by making three feature docs, Nobelity, One Peace at a Time, and Building Hope. All three were produced by our education and action nonprofit, The Nobelity Project ( I've also written ten books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently the NY Times bestseller, The Tao of Willie, co-authored with the very awesome Willie Nelson.