Anne White: Brewing Transformation in Tanzania one Tea at a Time

The tables are set for Anne White’s annual morning tea.

It was a normal morning in Maudsland, Australia, this June when over one hundred people gathered together for a ‘sumptuous, elegant morning tea.’ With decadent foods and delightful raffle prizes, the annual ‘Morning of Morning Teas’ was a stunning success. But the event wasn’t just focused on fantastic food (though it was) and a lovely time (though that was true, too), it was a morning with a purpose – to raise awareness and funds for the Cradle of Love Baby Home and orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania. And at that, reports Landmark graduate Anne White, it was equally successful.

Anne White feeding one of the babies at the Cradle of Love Baby Home.

“I’ve been hosting an annual morning tea, and so on that day we charge a fee, usually around $25, and people come, and we give them a sumptuous, elegant morning tea. We have raffle prizes, which are donated by people during the year, and if I see things throughout the year that are special, I’ll buy them as well as contributions to the morning tea day. And we’ve had to expand now, because I was having 40 people, then 50, then 60, and then it got too big for my home! And then we had 104 one year at somebody else’s home, and then the next year somebody else put their hand up to host the morning tea, and we had nearly 100 people there that day; it was just amazing. And the most recent one was this year, and we raised $4,700.”

Anne is not just the leader of the Morning of Morning Tea events, she is also the founder of ‘The Power of One Project,’ an initiative she created during her 2012 Self-Expression and Leadership Program to support the Tanzanian orphanage she first encountered on a trip to Africa in 2010. “I haven’t actually established anything; all I’ve done is supported this baby orphanage,” Anne is quick to clarify, but the power of her project is undeniable, and that power is what she discovered during the program. To paraphrase the book that inspired her project’s name, ‘I’m just one person, but I can still do something.’

It takes a village to pull off Anne White’s famous ‘morning of morning tea’ events.

“So many of us have the exact same opinion of themselves,” Anne says, “that ‘I’m just one person.’” But she has realized the power each of us has to cause transformation both on our own and in groups, and with that realization, she is making an amazing difference to a wonderful cause.

About Cradle of Love

Cradle of Love Baby Home was established ‘to provide interim care for infants in need’ in Tanzania. As Cradle of Love explains online, the organization exists to provide a safe environment where babies receive proper nutrition, medical care, and love and attention, and it was the first infant and toddler home in the area to be open to infants ‘without prejudice to any preexisting health condition, such as being HIV+. Those infants who are orphaned or abandoned used to stay in a hospital because there was no place to care for them. But now we are here for them.’

A sleeping baby at the Cradle of Love Baby Home.
How The Power of One Project began

“It’s all about expanding world views,” Anne says. “It’s about empowering and enabling people.”

From her first travel to Tanzania, Anne fell in love with Cradle of Love Baby Home and its mission, and she kept thinking about how she wanted to do what she could to help, even from 10,000 km away. The Self-Expression and Leadership Program gave her an outlet. “The first morning tea, I raised about $2,500 in one day…and that was fun. And people had a good time.” Anne was inspired by her first fundraising accomplishment, and she kept looking to see how else she could contribute.

Anne meeting one of the babies at Cradle of Love in 2010.

Soon Anne enlisted help to create a not-for-profit called The Power of One Project; then she created a mechanism for monthly donations. She kept sharing, kept traveling, and kept connecting everything back to her possibility for the baby home. “I’ve become someone that I never imagined was ever possible for me…Over the years just developing my capacity to be with people and speak with people and share what’s happening. It’s been incredible. I am unrecognizable from who I was when I did the Landmark Forum in 2005.” One of those connected conversations was with the head of an area rotary club, who applied for and won a $12,000 grant on Cradle of Love’s behalf that allowed for an update and continued maintenance to a building that hadn’t been updated since its founding in 2002.

Breakdowns and breakthroughs
Volunteers at Cradle of Love, November 2019.

There are always breakdowns when you’re up to something, even when things are going well. Sometimes the biggest challenge is trying to imagine what the future will look like when you’re causing transformation on a scale you’d never imagined. Anne encountered something similar in 2018 when she returned to visit the baby home:

“When we went in February of last year, we arrived there and I introduced myself, and all of the sudden, there were people calling out, ‘It’s Anne White! It’s Anne White from Australia!’ And people were coming from everywhere and hugging me, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, what’s going on?’ [laughs] And then I discovered that The Power of One is their single largest contributor. And I was horrified. I felt really burdened. I’m seventy next year, and I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, what am I going to do? I can’t continue this forever!’ And that’s what I’ve been dealing with.”

But even in the face of that uncertainty, Anne is still determined to do what she can. And one thing that resulted from that moment of panic was a real awareness and appreciation for the difference that The Power of One Project was making: “I didn’t really ever have an idea of how much money I’d sent, so I went all the way through my bookwork, and then I discovered that up to the end of October, we’d sent over $100,000! And I was completely flabbergasted because, you know, we don’t have large donations. We have small donations!”

A couch-worth of donations for Cradle of Love.

But that’s the power of one. One person, one idea, one enrolling conversation, one request, all generating momentum to cause transformation on a massive scale. Aside from an amazing group of people in- and outside of Australia who, Anne says, “have been extraordinarily supportive and loyal through the years, some who’ve been to every single one of my annual morning teas,” she also has her family involved, including her two young grandsons. “And they love my morning teas. They say, ‘Nanny, are you going to have your feast soon?’ It’s really good to expose them to how you can contribute to the world.”

“It’s very moving to be acknowledged for just the small contribution I’ve been able to make over the years.”

Anne cuddling a baby on her most recent trip to Cradle of Love in 2019.

If you would like to know more about The Power of One Project or the Cradle of Love Baby Home, you can find them online.

Want to learn about more amazing Self-Expression and Leadership Program projects that are transforming the world? Explore Landmark Forum News for more graduate stories that will leave you touched, moved, and inspired.

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About Creativity says:

Very good.

Shakila N says:

Awesome mam …you touch our hearts …

Viral Tripathi says:

Congratulations Anne. You are an inspiration

Elizete Alves says:

Deeply touching and inspiring

Eva Joy says:

Awesome work Anne!! A beautiful demonstration of following your heart and surrendering to making a difference!! Keep up the fun and the great work.

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