Friday, November 30, 2012

Nine Years Ago Today...

November 30, 2004. We were expecting a pretty busy next day, watching our then 5th grader, go out and attempt to shoot 2,057 free throws to represent the number of children who would lose a parent to AIDS during his school day. But honestly, what we didn't expect, is everything that happened next.  You see, we thought Hoops of Hope was just a one day event. I honestly thought Austin would make it through probably half, or maybe a few more shots, and then we'd head out to grab a burger and congratulate him on his success. 

Well, we never did grab that burger. Instead, there were such bigger plans for Hoops of Hope. Plans that we could've never imagined. Plans that would take our family to the corners of the world. Plans that could only be designed by a God who dreams so much bigger than we do. And, here we are...nine years later...still wondering what happened. Still in awe that Hoops of Hope has spread to 27 countries and has involved more than 40,000 young people. Still in awe that a small boys' dream of raising a few thousand dollars has raised enough to help build the only high school in the Kalomo district in southern Zambia. Still in awe that there are dorms in Kenya, a school being built in India, a community center in Malawi, hope centers in Swaziland, and the list goes on. Still in awe that, per the Minister of Education, an entire generation of Zambian Children have been saved because of medical clinics Hoops of Hope funded, now in the region.

And then again, I guess that's the beauty of Hoops of Hope. There never was a "master plan". We've never spent money on marketing. Never tried to create an organization [in fact, we run Hoops of Hope with 1.5 employees].  Never really promoted Hoops of Hope. It happened simply because people cared. It happened because people saw a need, saw an easy and fun way to help, and got involved. And to all of you who have participated in an event, volunteered or donated over the past nine years, thank you. You are the heros. I've met so many of the children you've helped and they are so incredibly thankful. I hope one day, you'll get to meet them too.

As we embark on another World AIDS Day, the needs are as great as ever. We found a small village in remote southern Zambia that has no medical facilities. Literally, if you're ill, you must find a way in a world without transportation, to get approximately 50 miles to the nearest facility. We have a goal in 2013 to build a new and modern medical facility for this village.

In addition to the medical facility, we are currently feeding 1,500 children in Malawi a nutritious meal every day. And, to celebrate our 10th year, we are hoping to provide 10,000 students in Title I schools here in the US with school supplies.  

But we cannot do it without you and I'm hoping you'll join us to celebrate 10 years of changing the game. Check out our new website which was graciously donated in part by Woodward & Zwolinski.  You'll find all the information you'll need to get involved.

Thanks again for everyone who has had a part in Hoops of Hope.  Tomorrow, on World AIDS Day, will you take a moment to remember these children? In fact, head out and shoot a few hoops. I think I will.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Malawi Update

Here are a few photos showing the progress on the community center Hoops of Hope funded in Mtema, Malawi.  Thank you again for all of your help and support of Hoops of Hope. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Community Center in Mtema

In 2012, we set out on a goal to feed 550 children, drill 4 new deep boreholes and to build a community center in Mtema, Malawi. Here are few pictures of the community center which is now fully funded and under construction. The community center will be a storehouse for the food, distribution center for the food, an education building and a community meeting center. It is the first of it's kind in Mtema which is a group of small villages about 20 miles north of Lilongwe. Thank you so much for your continued support of Hoops of Hope. You are making a huge difference in the lives of children!

Hoops of Hope Team!

 This picture shows the community bringing water to the construction site to be used to mix mortar.

 Here is the community mixing the mortar.

 Another Photo of ladies bringing water to the construction site. These canisters of water can weigh up to 40 pounds.
 Here is the community center under construction

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thanks Young Life!

Just a quick note of thanks to Young Life and their amazing leaders!  Kristen, thank you especially for your blog on Live to Give and for being willing to give it out to Young Life leaders.  So thankful for you and all you do!  Please check out Kristen's blog below for a review of the book.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mtema Feeding Program

My name is Wakondiye and I am 40 years old and married to the Village Headman Mtema. I have been going to the center since 2010 learning with the women and widows and have learned bead making and soap making, but my greatest love is for the Bible. When the first center in Mtema was opened, I did what most village headman’s wives’ would never do. I began helping to prepare the porridge for the children.

Before I was ignorant to the love of God, but after being taught by the ministry I now know that I am His child and I have been given such a love for children by God. I come to class and sing and play with them. I also make sure to leave them with an inheritance of folk tales.

I hope to encourage teachers and caregivers in their work and encourage women to ensure their children come and get a healthy meal each day, as well as participate in development in the community. During the community meetings I try to makes sure I speak to the local chiefs so that they will involve their wives in development because many of the chiefs’ wives are never in the forefront as they are not looked at contributors to progress in their culture.

Wakondiye leads her community by ownership and participation and by example and because of people like her in during the first 6 months of 2012 over 500 children and pregnant mothers have been enjoying a nutritious meal 5 times a week. The feeding program operates out of two locations – one in a very small church building with dirt floors and the other one literally under trees and tobacco sheds.  The community is looking forward to the new community center which will begin construction soon.

One of the other benefits of the OVC Feeding Program is that youth in the community are able to contribute.  This year they made 20 straw mats for the children to sit on while they ate and listened to Bible stories.  This gave the youth an opportunity to make some money to help support their families.  In addition, 6 teachers and 12 caregivers received incentives each month for teaching the children Bible stories and good health and hygiene practices.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

New Boreholes Open in Malawi!

Mtema borehole:  Mtema is composed of 56 villages.  About 22,000 people live in this community and are subsistence farmers.  There are over 550 orphans and vulnerable children. Prior to this borehole the community fetched their water from a nearby river which is unsafe for drinking, consequently they opened themselves up to many waterborne diseases.  When they pumped their borehole for the first time, the people were amazed and celebrated in song, laughing and dancing.  The hope in the eyes of the women and children, the possibilities of better health, and sanitation was evident as they put their hands in the cool refreshing water for the first time.  It was clear to this humble community that God had provided His living water to them.


Mtema Nkhalapadzuwa borehole: Similar to Mtema, this community’s children were most amazed as the water began to flow.  After generations of spending hours to get water from a river close by it didn’t seem possible that water could flow so easily from this faucet in the center of their community.  With trepidation, they put their hands under the water and smiled. Like the majority of people living in Mtema, this village is home primarily to subsistance farmers.  Because of this borehole, the women will be able to spend more time learning new skills to earn wages for their families.  The children will have more time to learn and become educated, and they will be able to easily bring water to their crops and small gardens so they can sustain feeding their families through the year.  Water is life; a new life, full of possibilities for a bright future.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Thomas Nelson Author Blog

Featured Authors

Nice blog from the Thomas Nelson website.  Thanks...

Austin Gutwein

Austin Gutwein was just 9 years old when watched a video that showed children who had lost their parents to AIDS. After watching the video, he realized these kids weren’t any different from him except they were suffering. Austin felt called to do something to help them. He took his love of basketball and decided to shoot free throws. On World AIDS Day, 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Friends and family sponsored Austin and he was able to raise almost $3,000. That year, the money was used to provide hope to 8 orphan children.
Over the past eight years, Austin’s effort has turned into the largest free throw marathon in the world with an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating in Hoops of Hope. Together, Hoops of Hope participants have raised more than $2.5 million. The efforts have led to the construction of the only high school in a rural region in Southern Zambia, four dormitories, two medical clinics, a computer laboratory, multiple water projects as well as the funding of a dormitory at an orphanage in Kenya and a school in India.
Austin has been featured on the 700 Club, Hour of Power, NBC Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, CBS NCAA Pregame Show, Time Magazine, Christianity Today and many others.  He has had the opportunity to share his story of hope to more than 500,000 people on four continents.
In 2009, Austin was selected as one of the Top 10 Most Caring Americans by the Caring Institute in Washington, DC.  That same year, Thomas Nelson released his first book, “Take Your Best Shot.” Austin’s second book, “Live to Give,” is scheduled to be released in August 2012.
In February 2012, Austin was recognized as one of ESPN’s 18 under 18, and he graduated from high school. He currently co-chairs Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s Youth Commission and will be attending Anderson University in the fall.
Learn more about Austin and Hoops of Hope at

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Intel Team Visits Computer Lab!

IESC Zambia: classmate PCs increase enrollment at Jonathan Sims

The Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) is a short-term service and career development opportunity for a select group of Intel employees to support the deployment of Intel classmate PCs in developing countries. In this blog, Andris Roze, a product analyst at Intel, recaps his team’s first week working with Hoops of Hope and World Vision in Zambia.

JSims students using Intel classmate PCs
A red dust cloud trails our Land Cruiser as we bounce along this dirt road in rural Zambia leading to Jonathan Sims Chikanta High School. Corn and cotton fields line the road, but no signs can be found. If you aren’t careful, you’ll drive all the way to Zimbabwe.
Luckily for us our journey has been expertly coordinated by Alf and his World Vision Zambia colleagues. World Vision supports Jonathan Sims, a school that changed dramatically in May 2011 when Hoops of Hope provided funding for a solar-powered computer lab with 20 Intel classmate PCs. The first IESC team set up the lab and provided initial training, and this year’s team returned to build on the foundation of PC literacy skills and help the school’s teachers integrate technology into their curriculum.

The team: Jason, Naveen, Merciless (deputy headmaster), Sisley, Mr. Kanjambo (headmaster), Andris, Cristina, Wendy
We hit the ground running, and in our first week we worked with teachers using Open Office Calc, Impress, and other software to teach PC literacy classes to more than 300 students. We demonstrated resources like Khan Academyand the Intel Learning Series classroom management software as well as the eGranary (a hard drive containing Wikipedia and 14 million educational resources). We even helped the deputy headmaster create the school’s first student ID cards.
We also demonstrated WeDo Robotics kits donated by the LEGO Foundation, showing the teachers how to create a program that lifts a robot man using a LEGO crane. The headmaster and teachers were excited about helping the students organize a robotics competition, as they were looking for an engaging, hands-on way of teaching engineering concepts.

Teachers using LEGO WeDo Robotics kits
After a year of having classmate PCs at the school, change is already palpable. Charles, the World Vision regional coordinator, noted that “enrollment is up this year because word is spreading that Jonathan Sims has a computer lab.” This is a significant leap since high school students in Zambia rarely have a chance to interact with computers. In fact, we were told that even university students often don’t get to use computers until their final year of studies.
During the second week, our team would travel to Makonkoto Basic School, but not before enjoying a rousing farewell assembly organized by the school’s headmaster, Mr. Kanjambo. Add a few speeches, a photo session with students, a final lunch with teachers, a few more speeches, and we were starting to feel like Justin Bieber. But it was time to get back out onto that dirt road, tired, but satisfied with what we accomplished.

After long day of training, enjoying a soccer game at dusk

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Live to Give Video

I hope you enjoy this super creative video launching a new book called Live to Give.

My prayer is that our generation would Live to Give - Austin

Monday, April 23, 2012

Update on Computer Lab!

Children at World Vision School Kiss Computer Illiteracy Goodbye

(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
By Collins Kaumba

PhinaPhina Lukomba is smiling in disbelief.

In her rural school, a computer lab has just been officially opened.

“I never thought that one day I would have a chance to see, touch, learn and use a computer especially in a place like this one,” says Phina, a 21-year-old who is studying in Grade 12. “All I know is that computers are for those who live in urban areas, especially the working class.”

World Vision Zambia, in partnership with Intel and Hoops of Hope of the United States, provided a computer lab made from a 40 foot shipping container, complete with solar power and 20 computers – each installed with a data library at the Jonathan Sim-Chikanta High School in a very rural area of Zambia’s Southern Province.

“I never thought would ever come as a reality. I will make sure that I utilise the computers to advance my education,” Phina says.

Phina is one of 309 students attending this secondary school.

Clement Chipokolo, World Vision Zambia’s Southern Regional Operations Manager, says the people who live in this community where World Vision’s Twachiyanda Area Development Programme
(ADP) operates are witnessing history. There are no other computer labs in any Kalomo District schools.

“When I was growing up and finished my school, I never had access to computers but here we are, in the midst of nowhere, witnessing the handover of computers,” he says.

Clement adds the computer technology will forever change the destiny of the pupils and entire community.

student-solar-powered-roomBernd Nordhausen, Intel World Ahead Program’s Senior Solutions Architect, says the installation of the computers at the school was the dream of their education service programme, which they hope to fulfill effectively by partnering with organisations such as World Vision.

“The computers we have installed use low power voltage, therefore solar power works well for them in places where there is no electricity,” Bernd explains.

The 17-year-old Hoops of Hope founder, Austin Gutwein, was a driving force behind building the school which opened in 2008.

The school is named after Jonathan Sim, a former World Vision USA employee, who had a dream for the children of Twachiyanda community. While Jonathan passed away, the school was built thanks to the fundraising of Austin.

solar-powered-lab“My wish is that these computers will help you to excel in your education and bring hope to you all and your families. I encourage you to use the computers very well,” Austin says.
The computer lab is already providing children with new skills.

“I am able to type and play games. Also I have learnt how to browse through and search for information stored on to the computers. However, we are still learning how to do several other things,” she says smiling.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Book - Pre order Available

The new book, Live to Give, by Austin Gutwein is now available for pre-order at Amazon.  I'm excited to share the message in this book with you and I hope it leaves you inspired.  - Austin

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Love this new video our friend Will Irwin did on our most recent trip to Zambia.

Monday, March 12, 2012

ESPN 18 Under 18

18 Under 18: Austin Gutwein

Senior raised more than $2.5 million for African orphans through his charity

Updated: February 29, 2012, 1:09 AM ET
By Ryan Canner-O'Mealy | ESPNHS Magazine
Austin GutweinCourtesy of Hoops for HopeAustin Gutwein of Gilbert Christian (Gilbert, Ariz.) started Hoops for Hope, a charity that's raised more than $2.5 million for those affected by AIDS in Africa.
ESPNHS honors 18 male teen athletes who are doing remarkable things on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. Click here to read about them.
When he was 9, Austin Gutwein saw a movie about African children orphaned because of AIDS. It left such an impression that he started Hoops Of Hope, a charity to raise money for those affected by AIDS in Africa.
He started by shooting 2,057 free throws -- representing the average number of children who became orphaned each day -- and raised $3,000 that first year. "That very first year it was just me," says Gutwein, who now plays soccer at Gilbert Christian (Gilbert, Ariz.). "I didn't really think much toward the future."
Seven years later, the 17-year-old senior's charity has gone global and raised more than $2.5 million. More than 40,000 people in 27 countries have participated. Gutwein has traveled all over the world as a result, visiting Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Qatar, China, Luxembourg and many more countries. Through it all, one lesson has stayed with him.
"This generation can step up and really change the world," he says. "And you don't have to wait to be an adult to do it." For more information on Hoops Of Hope, visit Gutwein's website,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Story of Mateni

Ever wonder if there is a story behind what happens when you participate in a Hoops of Hope event and raise $40 to feed a child for a year in Malawi?  Well, there are many, many, thousands of stories.  Here is one...

Mateni is a 12 year old boy living with his sister, Alinafe in Malawi. Mateni was recently tested and found out that he is HIV positive. He has to face this new challenge in his life without parents to support him - it is just he and his sister.

After both of their parents died, Alinafe married a young man, though she was only 14. When she became  pregnant, her husband left her and their child behind. So now, Mateni, Alinafe and her baby have to fend for themselves.

When the feeding center opened in their community in early 2011, it gave hope to Mateni and Alinafe. Both of them are now receiving a meal everyday at the center - and Alinafe's baby is being fed as well.

Now Mateni and Alinafe have hope. Mateni has hope because even though he is HIV positive, he is able to receive treatment. He also has hope because he knows that he will have at least one meal everyday at the feeding center. Because he has enough to eat, he is doing much better in school, and now has the hope that he can finish his education.

Thank you so much for participating in Hoops of Hope. In 2012, we'll be feeding 550 children just like Mateni and Alinafe. But, we have word from the field that there are another 950 children that need food in the same village. January - March are the hardest months as the harvest is not yet ready. Malawi is the third poorest country in the world.