SILVERHILL, Alabama — Lisa and Curtis Brodie have come a long way from starting a charity and running it out of their home in Fairhope a decade ago.
Born out of a dream Lisa Brodie had when she was a little girl of going to Africa, that dream became a reality in 2007 when she got the opportunity to participate in a medical mission trip.
Maji: Hope (maji means water in Swahili) was born out of a conversation she had with doctors on the trip, who told her than lack of clean drinking water was the biggest problem of the people there.
She and her husband Curtis, who are both former educators, began the charity with penny drives with fellow teachers and students, later selling T-shirts, hats, mugs and other items to raise money.
Then, a group of mothers from the Endevesi village calling themselves the Imani Group (imani means faith in Swahili) approached the organization about doing something to help raise money for the water project in their village, Brodie said. They offered hand-made items that could be used as jewelry, Christmas ornaments, things like that, she said. The items were collected and sold for $10 each.
When the Brodies built their home in Silverhill they knew it would be the perfect place to establish office space for their charity.
They began looking for a place they could call home in order to sell the items and after an exhaustive search, found a place on the corner of Highway 104 and Ninth Avenue, across from The Station in Silverhill. In 2017 they added a coffee shop and ice cream parlor, which they named “Brodie’s Cream & Bean.”
About a year ago, Lisa Brodie came home from a mission trip to Africa, and her husband announced that he thought they needed a larger space. Again, through a series of seemingly divine events, the Brodies ended up purchasing the old Silverhill Market (also located on Alabama 104, about a mile from the previous location).
In the last 10 years, the Brodies have overseen 17 projects, which may not seem like a lot but, Brodie says, it’s the quality, not the quantity of the projects that have meant a lot.
“We’ve taken on a lot of projects that others wouldn’t touch simply because they thought they were too expensive or too time consuming,” she said.
Most recently Maji: Hope completed a project in Kiteto Village in Central Tanzania, one of the group’s largest projects to date which ended up helping more than 20,000 people get clean drinking water.
“The project was in a village located on the side of a mountain,” she said, “so high up that the government would not provide assistance. Through the project, we were able to provide clean drinking water to several schools and churches in five different communities.”
That project, along with one other, were recently completed over the summer, Brodie said, and they are now preparing for two more projects in Tanzania.
Brodie’s Cream and Bean is open from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, offering a range of ice cream, including cones and cups, waffle cones, sundaes and a banana split, along with a wide range of brews from the Fairhope Brewing Co.
The Brodies are also continuing with fundraising efforts, hosting community events, and continue to go into local schools, telling the story of Maji: Hope and why the need for clean drinking water is important.
Most recently, Brodie said, she reached out to Allison Miller with the Student Leadership Training class at Theodore High School.
“We went and spoke to the class, then the students themselves went class to class, talking about our organization and looking for ways to raise money,” she said. “In just a week, they raised over $2,000 and are looking for ways to raise more.”
On Saturday, Nov. 2, Brodie’s Cream and Bean will host a 10th anniversary celebration for Maji: Hope at its location, 16320 Alabama 104 in Silverhill.
The event will include a sausage jambalaya dinner, Old Dutch Ice Cream and other desserts, coffee from the Fairhope Brewing Co. and entertainment from The Marlow Boys.
There will also be a bounce house and other children’s activities.
“We want this to be a real family-friendly event for the whole community,” Brodie said. “Our donors and sponsors have really stepped up again to make this a really fun event.”
Brodie said they will also be introducing new handmade items for sale that were recently brought back from Africa.
Tickets for the event are $25 for adults; $10 for children. You can purchase tickets and learn more at majihope.org.