Conscious party: Asheville to Africa

FARAWAY NEIGHBORS: Africa Healing Exchange is one of many local organizations with ties to Rwanda. The nonprofit's founder, Sara Stender, works to implement business development in the country, while companies like Dynamite Roasting Co. and Dobra Tea lend support by buying Rwandan products for resale. Photo courtesy of Africa Healing Exchange

WHAT: Africa Healing Exchange’s benefit show, featuring Laura Reed, Seeko and Kinobe

WHERE: White Horse Black Mountain

WHEN: Thursday, April 21, at 6 p.m.

WHY: In its mission to create “a sustainable and innovative model for ending the cycle of trauma throughout the world,” Africa Healing Exchange has launched a resilience-building pilot program in Rwanda. The locally based nonprofit couples entrepreneurial training with evidence-supported techniques for releasing trauma and stress, according to founder and executive director Sara Stender.

“In June 2015, AHE helped a group of women in the western province of Rwanda to form the district’s first all-women association,” she explains. “The women are part of a coffee farming community, and most of them were in Rwanda during the Genocide of 1994 and are living on less than $2 per day.”

Those women requested assistance in replacing chronic stress with more harmony in their homes and opted to be called UMUTUZO, which means “resilience” in the native language Kinyarwandan. With AHE’s continued help, they’re running two new businesses: a cabbage farm and pepper farm.

Stender often leads Western North Carolina residents on trips to the women’s region, but this time, she’s highlighting some sounds, sights and tastes of Africa at home during a community fundraiser. Performing acts include South African singer Laura Reed, Congolese fire eater Seeko and Ugandan multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Kinobe. Offstage, Rwandan coffee and tea and handmade wares like bags, jewelry and gift cards will be for sale (cash only).

For an extra $10, attendees can opt into a dinner catered by The Kente Kitchen, which specializes in West African cuisine. Owner Ramona Young’s feast offers two rice dishes (including one vegan, gluten-free option) plus African ras el hanout chicken, which calls for her own savory blend of coriander, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and more. AHE partners Dynamite Roasting Co. and Dobra Tea will also pour drinks sourced from Rwandan soil.

Visit for more information or to purchase tickets for $25 per person ($10 youth). 


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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