Neema International & the Tuleeni Orphanage


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A year ago I was asked to create an image about a charity I would like to have people donate to. It was going to be produced on T-shirts, etc. and sold, with the proceeds going to the charity. For a number of reasons it never came to pass. BUT I did do the drawing. The drawing and prints are available for sale. All profits will go to Neema International.



The charity I chose is one I have supported for a couple of years now, Neema International. The money goes to support the Tuleeni orphanage in Tanzania as well as outreach to the entire community of children in the surrounding villages. Neema International is headed by Mandy Stein, an amazing young woman originally from Texas who now lives and works full time at the orphanage. She plans, builds, teaches, negotiates, and works her butt off to make a better life for the kids. Whether it’s new buildings, uniforms for school, supplies, transportation, food, community support, education or technology she has her fingers in the mix trying to make it all happen.  Mama Faraji, shown below with Mandy, is the founder and leader of the Tuleeni Orphanage.



Mandy Stein and Mama Faraji

First Drawing and Post

You can read my first drawing and post that I did about a year and a half ago on Mandy and her work with Neema here.  It was a post about happiness and purpose, something Mandy exemplifies to an awe-inspiring degree.  Among other things it shows a photo of the building below well before it was completed.


Here is the new orphanage and education building. It took years of effort from Mandy and many others but it’s now complete!



Of course, the outside is just part of the effort. The inside had to be completed too. Here are some photos of what was involved in that!




Transporting mattresses for the orphanage


New bunks at the orphanage


Finally, a great place to eat dinner!


YAY, a reliable bus to take the kids to school and elsewhere!

This is just a fraction of what is going on at Tuleeni.  Other efforts include:

  • Sending many of the orphans, especially girls, to private schools so they can get a quality education.  Girls are seriously underrepresented in the education system there and they are working hard to overcome that.
  • A Technology Education center for the entire village.
  • An Education Sponsorship program.

Love is the Purpose

I often write and illustrate at this blog that you become what you practice.  I practice art and I practice teaching/coaching and I have become pretty good at it. You are good at something too. But becoming good at something still leaves the question. WHY?  Why are you becoming good at this skill? What is the ultimate purpose behind it?

For me, the reason is to bring joy, happiness, hope, encouragement, insight, and most of all love to others.  This is the greater thing to practice because some day I might lose my ability to create or run.  But I will never lose my ability to love, right?

This is what Mandy is doing. Yes, she is building, teaching, organizing, etc. But what she is really doing is practicing love.  Help her do that, ok?

How to Help

If you would like to support Mandy, Neema International and the Tuleeni Orphanage, you can make a contribution here.  The donations go to a registered non-profit so you can have it be a charitable donation.  Once you are at the site take some time to read about Neema and how it got started. It will warm your heart.

If you would like to contribute more directly you can do so at Paypal.  Simply send the money to This will not be tax-deductible but the money is immediately available to Neema so they can buy school and home supplies quickly and as needed.  Here are some pics that show what those sorts of donations have already bought. Plus, you are helping the local Tanzanian economy, something desperately needed.

If you’re interested in becoming an education sponsor contact: for details

Stay Connected

Here an article about Mandy and the amazing work Neema is doing.‘neema’-tanzania

You can keep up with Neema International’s efforts at their home on FB –

You can do the same for the Tuleeni Orphans Home on FB –


Drawing and quote © 2016 Marty Coleman |


Indecision – Decision Making #3


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The Fear of Being Wrong

When I hear people talk about their fear of decision making the number one thing I hear is fear of being wrong.  You can see it on reality TV dating shows where the person choosing is racked with fear that he or she might make the wrong choice.  You can see it in college kids trying to decide on a major. You can see it in people deciding on which house or car to buy. The list of ‘what if’ worries is endless.  For many it can be paralyzing, keeping their life from moving forward and being fulfilled in so many ways.

The Wrong of being Fearful

You may be saying, ‘Hey wait, being fearful isn’t wrong’ and you would be right. And you would be wrong. Why wrong? Let’s use this example. You witness the rape of a friend. You are called to give a statement to police. You are called to look at a line up of possible perpetrators. You are called to testify for the prosecution. Doing those things is scary and it is likely you will be fearful. But what if you are SO fearful that you won’t do those things? You won’t speak up, you won’t testify. What then? Turns out your fear could be the reason a rapist is not convicted and is free to rape again. That could be considered a moral wrong, right?


Procrastinator Excellente

I am a procrastinator in decision making compared to my wife Linda. I take too much time and put off evaluating. Why? Because it means I have to take action and I don’t want to. I am lazy with a bit of fear of decision making thrown in. But what I have found is I have a lot more regrets from not having made a decision soon enough than I do from making a decision too soon. For example, I have waited too long and missed deadlines in applying for art fellowships or competitions in a particular year.  But when I got my application in on time for those same things a year later, I certainly didn’t regret it.

The Lesson

First, know yourself. If you are a procrastinator or worrier about decision making, admit it and evaluate why. Then start to look at what it is you do regularly to sabotage good decision making. Do you rationalize and make excuses? You know if you do so just admit it instead of adding on the rationalizations.  Also, don’t brag about your indecisiveness. Nothing is worse than someone bragging about their shortcomings as if the bragging makes it ok.

If you want to be a a more decisive decision maker, there is only one way to do it.  That is to practice it. When the moment arrives to make a decision, be resolute in evaluating and deciding as quickly as you can.  Your ‘quick’ might be days longer than someone else’s so don’t go by someone else. Just go by your own history.  If it usually takes you 7 days? Do it in 5. If it usually takes you an hour, do it in 45 minutes.  In other words, be deliberate and conscious about your decision making.

You will become a better decision maker if you practice it.

Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman |

Quote by Brendan Francis Behan, 1923 – 1964, Irish Author


The Straight Line – Decision Making #2


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Being Young

Ah, the glories of being the right kind of young. For those it means a body that works well, a future that looks set, a plan and help that builds confidence.  That straight line to their future is clearly laid out before them.  They can see it as clearly as they can see the sun rise on a cloudless day.

For some their young life is filled with pain, worry, and strife. They can’t see any line to the future much less a straight one because nobody else around them has ever seen it either. It’s like the Loch Ness Monster of futures. Nobody they know has ever seen it.

And then some are in between. The line might have been spotted, but it’s lost or covered up in large areas by the dirt of life; hate, confusion, distractions and more.

The Illusion Revealed

So, who is the lucky one of the three above?  The answer? None of them. And all of them.  It all depends on how you react to discovering the illusion of the line.  Or the reality of it.

To give just one example, I have a friend who for 45 years lived a charmed life.  Her line was as straight as could be. She had a wealthy and happy upbringing, good friends, health and education.  She then met and married a man who seemed to have a great future himself and had 2 healthy and beautiful kids.  The life she envisioned came true.  Until her spouse became the least likely thing she could ever imagine, a crack addict.  We were having a discussion about this destruction of her family and life when she said “Nothing like this has ever happened to me, I don’t know why it’s happening now.”  My response?  “Be grateful you had 45 years of a charmed life first, most people don’t have anywhere near that luck.”

Coming up against the truth that the straight line is an illusion didn’t ruin her, even though it could have. She was a very smart, resilient and adaptable woman when she got over the trauma she refocused on finding a new line and was successful. It included an amazing career she never would have had and a new husband who led the way on adventures all around the globe.  But most importantly it helped her have sympathy and understanding for others who didn’t live her charmed life but who suffered the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ in ways she never understood before.

Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman |

Quote by Victor Hugo, 1802-1885, French author


Ella’s Table of Contents – An Illustrated Short Story


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Chapter One – Ella Goes

Chapter Two – Ella Drinks

Chapter Three – Ella Looks

Chapter Three – Ella Realizes

Chapter Four – Ella Blushes

Chapter Five – Ella Points

Chapter Six – Ella Laughs

Chapter Seven – Ella Speaks

Chapter Eight – Ella Listens

Chapter Nine – Ella Argues

Chapter Ten – Ella Laughs Again

Chapter Eleven – Ella Gets Married

The End


Burning Regret – Decision Making #1


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Time and Forgiveness

Why not burn a bridge? I mean, you aren’t going to see those jerks again anyway, right? Many many years ago I was fired from a company. One person made the decision and she was the one who gave me the news.  I didn’t burn any bridges then, even though given the circumstances I could have seen her as my enemy.

The Future is the Present

Fast forward 6 years and this woman crosses my path when she enrolls in a class of mine (not knowing I am the lead teacher). A class she will be in 3 days a week for 12 weeks.  Now is the moment I am glad I didn’t burn that bridge.  I knew who she was and I knew what she had done. I knew it had been unfair and had adversely affected my life.  But I had a choice. Would all the anger and unfairness I felt at the beginning hold sway or would I choose a different path?


I chose the different path. I embraced her. I worked with her. I cared for her. I listened to her story of injury and recovery. I encouraged her in making progress, and she did.  I saw her all the way through.  So much so that after the class was over and a new class started she joined that as well.   We didn’t become close friends, but there is no doubt she knew I had not only forgiven her (which she may or may not have felt she needed anyway) but had embraced her and wished her well in her life. I didn’t just say it, I acted it out in my actions towards her.

That is why you don’t burn bridges.  Not just because you may regret it professionally later, but because it will cut off the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation later in life.

In Your Mind

Another story, this one from an online friend. His daughter abruptly left home at age 18 without much of an explanation. She didn’t respond to repeated attempt to reconnect with her family, including old fashion letter writing on the part of her father. She had been dealing with anxiety and depression before and after she left and eventually did get medical treatment. However, she was still estranged from the entire family. But when she accidentally ran into her younger sister in public and chose to ignore her, the father witnessed the devastation the younger daughter went through. Enough was enough and he knew he had to take action.

But what action?  How about burning that bridge, telling her she was persona non grata in the family for hurting the younger sister so badly?  NO, of course he didn’t do that.  He found a way to contact her directly and demanded they get together and talk. Others had been telling her the same thing, so she agreed.

Moving Past

He was nervous about this meeting, expecting to be confronted by the same angry daughter who had left over a year earlier. But, that is not what happened. Instead he met a mature, responsible 19 year old. One who asked forgiveness, placed no blame on her parents, and wanted to start fresh with the whole family. You don’t have to be told how great that father felt. And why did that happen? Because he didn’t burn the bridge but decided, in spite of the danger and anxiety, to cross the bridge instead. He made the effort out of love and it paid off.

A burned bridge never would have allowed that.

Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman |

Quote by David Russell


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