Friday, January 22, 2010

New website!

Just wanted to say! I'll now be posting things to:

It'll have the blog, some pics and project details!

Will try my best to keep it updated. :)

So from now on, Pursuing Normal -NOT- cassbasnett :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

GCM Calendars!!!

Hey Guys!

Exciting stuff, GCM now has out 2010 12-month calendars! All the profits go directly to helping kids at risk around the world. To purchase your calendar you can either buy online at: or get it from me here in LA or when I'm in Canada (December 17-December 30)

I'll write what's going on with me in the next couple weeks!
X x

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Giving Hope, Expressing Love, Extending Justice to the Nations -That's my find of Christmas gift!

Hey Guys! This is our amazing fundraiser! Let me know if you, your church or business want to get involved! It should be really fun and really great across the board (impacting orphans-prostitutes and those in war zones!)
You can contact me or GCM asap for more info!
Much much love,

The Giving Tree
Giving Hope, Expressing Love, Extending Justice to the Nations

This Christmas, give a gift like no other. Global Children's Movement a California based Not-for-Profit organization working with children-at-risk around the world would like to invite you to give a gift this year that will transform a child’s life and cheer their heart.

The Giving Tree project was started in response to meet very practical needs of children and families we’re working with in Kenya, DR Congo, Ecuador, and Thailand.

How The Giving Tree Project Works:

Your business, organization, church, or community group can host a “Giving Tree”. You provide a Christmas tree used for display, and we’ll provide the rest! Throughout communities “Giving Trees” will be displayed, and each tree will be adorned with hand-made ornaments that will be sold for various prices. Each ornament will have an attached tag that explains what the purchase price is going for. For example:

“$20—Five reading books for children in the DR Congo”
“$60—Send a child to school for a year”
“$10—A new pair of shoes for a street child”

If you would like to host a Giving Tree, you will collect all the proceeds made from the ornaments and turn in it after Christmas to Global Children's Movement. All ornament purchases are tax-deductable and we maintain a very high accountability process for all of our projects to be financially responsible and effective. For more information about Global Children's Movement please visit our website at

Many community groups have asked if they can make their own ornaments—Yes! If your group would like to make your own ornaments and tags we have included a detailed price list for your convenience. Please contact us at with any questions.

This gift is no ordinary gift. Sure, it may just look like just a regular ornament that you’d hang on your tree, but it’s SO much more than that!

In the war torn DR Congo, in Central Africa only half of all children go to school. Of those that do, most are boys and only half of them will reach the fifth grade. (UNICEF)

With this Christmas decoration YOU are helping provide a child with a better future. Empowering them with education, to dream for a nation with peace and possibilities.

Not only that! Oh no, there’s more. On the Kenyan coast where prostitution cripples the lives of thousands of women, this gift helps those women find new means of employment and ensures their children are in good schools with full bellies.

And wait, we’re not finished. No longer are so many street kids rummaging through the garbage pile but with this gift YOU are helping provide them with a safe home, surrounded by loving care workers.

Pretty great ornament right? %100 of the proceeds raised from your gift go directly to one of these causes.

Giving Hope, extending Justice and expressing Love. That’s my kind of Christmas gift!

Monday, November 9, 2009

From War Zones to High Heels

I’m back! I’ve safely returned to LA. I am in one piece and very happy. My flight took forever but it was worth it in the end. :) I’m still stuck in jet leg however (fell asleep at 8pm last night and was up at 4:30am this morning) but culture shock hasn’t been a problem! Yesterday I was at my friends wedding. The reception took place at a GORGEOUS house in Orange County where we ate amazing cheeses and crackers, and goofed around on the tennis courts and putty green in the back yard. Visions of the dessert table will be imprinted in my mind for weeks. I did have to laugh as I dipped a strawberry in chocolate fondue and thought of the rice and bread I’ve been eating for weeks. Two very different worlds, but accepting that is half the battle.

I’ll be back in the west for about two months. The states until December 17th then I’ll travel back to Saskatoon, Canada for Christmas with my family. I’ll be back in LA for New Years and about a week after that I’ll start the journey back to Africa.

If you live in Saskatchewan or the LA area and want to have tea-there’s my schedule!

Things are pretty exciting. I’m still working on Africa stuff, just more the admin side. Perhaps mixing both worlds. Trying to get used to my favorite pair of black heels, I scribbled down fundraising ideas while strolling around the house. It’s just like riding a bike. (Except for the stilettos, those will take more getting used to. They’re like a unicycle) Now the only thing that gives away the fact that I’ve been in the bush a few months (besides the endless flow of stories) are the strange bites on my arms. And my back. They’re going away, but still quite itchy.

That deserves more explanation. See, it was the Sunday before returning to America while staying in Uganda, when I woke up in the middle of the night with my arms, ridiculously itchy. I’d been sleeping with anti-itch cream for months so I just lathered up and went back to sleep. In the morning before my shower however, I curiously peeked at my arm to see what had been the matter. Literally- I screamed. My arm was COVERED in little red dots. For the next few hours the swelling got worse. I tried to count them once and stopped at 57. (The left forearm alone). It was DISGUSTING. I went to the managers of the sketchy hostel I was staying at and they seemed more concerned then me. They had to fumigate the ENTIRE place just because of my bites. (Not sure that’s the accomplishment I make it sound to be)

But other than that, things are great. I’m thrilled to be back with loved ones and ready to celebrate the holidays!

To elaborate more on the fundraiser real quick… We’re looking at offering really neat Christmas gift ideas! So if you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping (which should be everyone except for my parents) then hold out a little longer! I hope to have details within the next week!

Not sure how many blogs I’ll write while I’m back. Might try to post some of the “Lost testimonies” or funny stories that if I don’t blog, will never get told. But keep checking here as I’ll update the important things and upcoming news, as two months will FLLY by! For now here are a few pics to give you more of a visual of my week of transition! :)

Bringin' some Kingdom in the IDP camps
Fabulous kids in the military barracks
Bites much? (that was when they FIRST appeared. you can't see really but my entire arm was so swollen!)This picture makes me laugh- we all look so... "placed"?
Tennis courts at their house!The happy GORGEOUS couple!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Here it goes!!

I’ve been trying to think over and over again of what to write. I can never seem to find the words though.

In the last few weeks I’ve collected some hilarious, very African, travel stories that would make you rotfl BUT they’re quite epic and I really haven’t been in the mood lately. I just got out of Congo. I’m in Rwanda staying with Melissa (TONS of laughs, in a real HOUSE with a HOT shower!!!) It’s fab. Right now we’re sitting by a gorgeous pool, surrounded by lush greenery, with a cup of tea trying to get some things done. I’ve been semi successful. The rain chased us inside, so now, trapped at a table in the restaurant, I guess I’m forced to finish my blog. (fyi- the tea is heaven. It came with a cookie on the side, ok I asked if they’d put a cookie on the side… and it tastes like a million bucks.)

So, this last Congo trip had many twists, turns and unexpected events. We arrived in Goma greeted with the repeated news that Mugunga IDP camp was empty. (The reason for our travel was to get clearance to work in the camp) I had heard this news before I even left Kenya but I honestly couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Empty? How could 20-30 000 people, who’ve made up Mugunga for almost three years, have all gone home in a month?? Seriously, it can’t be. Many IDP camps take YEARS to clear out. But as we toured Goma, talking with more and more people, it seemed to be true. Monday morning, bright and early (ha- actually cloudy and around noon) we headed out to see for ourselves. We arrived just in time to catch the tail end of various government workers celebrating the official end of Mugunga IDP camp. There was laughter and pats on the back, high fives almost. I picked my jaw up off the ground and dusted off the dirt so I could properly “congratulate” them. After getting their permission Sabrina pulled out her camera and we started walking around taking pictures.

Now, I’ve been warned by friends: “Those who leak Congo’s injustices, don’t work in the Congo.”

I’m not sure how much to say, or how to say it, but I’ve decided for now, a “blog” isn’t the best place to share all of my opinions. But I will state some facts:

Yes, Mugunga IDP Camp, is in fact, empty.
Yes, all 28 000 people (the last statistics we heard) went back to the bush in less than a month.
No, the bush is not safe.
Yes, the government was involved.
Yes, force was used.

Sometimes certain injustices are harder to deal with than others. This one definitely ranked high on the “difficult to handle” scale.

For the first week neither Sabrina nor I really knew what to do. We couldn’t cry, it felt deeper than that. Eventually we got it out but it seriously took a while. Lol And that’s all details I’ll share for now. If you want more, maybe email or over a large cup tea. (as I’m back in the states in less than a week!) ☺

After we realized our work in the IDP camp probably wasn’t gonna happen we starting plotting other ways to help. (aka – hung out on our faces. A LOT)
We visited another IDP camp that had no NGO or government assistance. It’s so hard to see sometimes. People living in “houses” the size of closets, held together by some tarp, old leaves and string. OI. They say two kids died every week from malnutrition alone. One baby we saw had half her face horribly burned from falling in a fire while her mom went to look for more food.

We did some great classes with the kids there and met with some leaders to pray for and encourage them as best we could. In my heart, of course, I secretly scouted the land for a place we could set up a “hall” like facility for feeding and more classes. Some people said by the time we come back though they’ll probably all have dispersed again. Suck.

So we started looking at where they’re all going. They’re IDPs. Displaced. They don’t really have a home or money to find a new one. It seems everywhere they go they’re either faced with extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition, lack of education and health care or rebels.

So we went to the area in Goma, where many of them have relocated. The pastor we work with started a little school last month so we’ve come up with some brilliant plans to empower the community and provide STELLAR education, incorporated with Kingdom values. The program’s called “Excellence Rising” and I’ll have more info on it soon if you wanna get involved! (I also want to take Excellence Rising along with “bush outreaches” hehe to the villages…. But one-three projects at a time ;) (I know I said the bush isn’t safe BUT we spoke with the UN and they’ve so kindly offered a little military escort :)

As most of you know I LOVE justice. Like I really really LOVE it. I can spend hours dreaming of what justice would look like in various places around the world. And for Congo, one of the places justice is lacking most is with the military. Lol. Yup, the rebel soldiers. They’re “good” rebels though. (as in “apparently fighting for the good side”?)

We found out that again, roughly 30 000 of them are living in HORRIBLE conditions. The soldiers don’t receive a salary for their full time job so the poverty is ridiculous. There aren’t any schools in the camp so most of the children are uneducated and if you’re a female living there; you’re a HUGE target for rape and abuse. We heard several stories of little girls mostly 10 years old working prostitution among the barracks.

With that said, it seems like a perfect place for Kingdom. We were warned however that it’d be extremely difficult to get in. You have to write letters and meet with provincial leaders, then it takes time etc etc. We prayed though and gave it back to Jesus. Our team told him we were willing and if he wanted to open the door, we’d walk through it. Then we stepped aside and waited. In days, not only did we have clearance but a full open opportunity to go whenever we wanted in whatever capacity we wanted. (YAY!)

This is getting long but it’s still raining, so I’ll keep going.

This is when God’s love really gets me. Even among the rapists, the thieves and murders God’s love STILLLLLL, NEVER FAILS. It’s perfect. So we went and invited Jesus and he showed up. Sabri and I just couldn’t stop smiling. One soldier stopped us mid conversation and asked if we could pray for him cause He had “so much pain”. Of course we agreed and without missing a beat he fell to his knees lifting his hands. We released the power and love of Jesus and his whole demeanor changed! He said it felt like fire was flowing through his body and we could just see how in love and happy our God was. We played with the kids and fed everyone who showed up. They couldn’t seem more grateful to see us, (NOBODY works in the camp. No government agency or NGO for “obvious” reasons, pft.) and they invited us back to work however we want. ☺

So yes, life is good. Even in the midst of war, God’s love will always be enough, his hope will always sustain and his goodness will always empower.

We met with tons of different people; locals, government and UN officials and every time we would hear negative reports God would just whisper “Cass, this is their perspective, not yours, you have my point of view.” SO, we’re standing as “winnnnners” (lol for those get it ;) and refusing to be discouraged even when looking down the barrel of a gun. :)

Seriously it is still raining but my drink is gone and because it’s a nice place we only budget for one. :P Sorry it’s long but if you can believe it, I’m still cutting it short! ☺

Appendix: ;)
IDP- Internally Displaced Person
Mugunga- Large IDP Camp just outside Goma
NGO- Non-Government Organization

Monday, October 12, 2009

I love that love is perfect. Not necessarily the way WE love, but the way HE loves –perfect. No matter what we do, we can never make him love us less and no amount of striving will ever make him love us more. God just loves us-perfectly.

This is my favorite thing when traveling to a war zone.

“God loves you. Perfectly.” That’s enough.

I have no doubt in my mind that I’m God’s favorite. I live, move, and function from that place. Sure, I definitely haven’t mastered it, and sometimes I forget BUT only for a moment, and then I remember, that, OH! I am loved the most. ☺

It’s from that place, that I realize something….

Over a hundred thousand women have been brutally raped in the Congo.

+100, 000.

I can’t imagine. Thousands more live in fear, as it’s such a part of everyday life.

Now as confident as I am that I AM God’s favorite, I’m just as certain that every single one of those women, of those girls, is God’s absolute favorite too.

He loves them most.

But it goes on. Not only that, but without a doubt I also know that every single man, soldier, or rebel who did that to those beautiful women, they too are God’s favorite.

He loves them most.

That’s why I love war zones. The reason I love brothels, and how I can see him among the slave traders or even just “the homeless guy”.

Because if he loves them as much as he loves me then OF COURSE I have no problem running as fast as I can into the darkest parts of the world to fight for just one of them. I don’t mind risking it all if it would mean that they would get to spend forever and day with him, like I will. Cause that’s his joy. And that’s enough. Living for love.

Over a hundred thousand women have been brutally raped in the Congo. Oi.

“He who has been forgiven much loves much”.

It’s like he sets us up for redemption. What we think would be impossible, he plans on how to make it simple.

“Can a nation be changed in a day?” Can a woman be healed in a moment?

That’s why I love the Congo, because it’s a nation full of his favorites.

So, to give a little more understanding why I live in huts in Sudan, hang out with prostitutes in Kenya and work with IDPs in Congo. Pretty much… I just really love Jesus, and he really loves us. I think that covers it. (However I PRAY I’ll never have to do the hut thing again. Not a fan of the dirty, spider infested, human size rats and no privacy thing. I would, BUT I l-o-v-e the luxury of space and a place to plug in my laptop. ;)

Also I’m heading back to Congo this week. It was expected but decided really fast. We’re going to see if we can get the right clearances and paper work to feed some kids ;)

PLEASE be praying for favor, as we have to go through the government and UN and a few other guys. There has been a lot of corruption in the Congo and we don’t have time or money to submit to their bribes. SO… Jesus? :)

ALSO- I’ve been feeling sick the last couple days. I have a three-day bus journey ahead of me, and then a month’s workload that we have to cram into two weeks – I can’t be sick!!

If you’d like to donate to the trip and our desire to feed an army of kids and see a little redemption take place in a war zone, EMAIL! I’ll let you know how you can get involved.

But for now, I’d love some extra love and prayer as we head back to the bush. Will post the exciting news as it unfolds when we get there!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When Time Stands Still.

I’m bored. It’s been a….slow day and it’s now evening and I’m now in the mood to be productive. However, TIA (This Is Africa.) Once it’s dark it’s “dangerous” and as a young lady with pretty pale skin, I’m sorta under house arrest. Bah.

So I’m plotting. (Something I seem to do whenever I have too much time on my hands) How can I change the world? Jesus, what are your dreams for the brothels... for the street kids, for the widows? What do you want to do and how can I do that with you?

My latest schemes fall back to the commercial sex workers on the coast. How can we get them more jobs? How can we support them, lifting up their arms so they can fulfill their dreams? We’re hoping to partner with this organization that teaches salon. Lots of the girls really like doing hair and nails so it’d be perfect. BUT let’s go a step further, how can we take the girls working the sex market, and give them an opportunity to really make a difference to their community? What would that look like? So I’m dreaming and because I’m bored I’m going to verbally process those dreams in a blog. Haha. So bare with me.

If they’re going to have a salon, let’s make it the best salon. But how? If they’re going to sell chickens (what we’re hoping to do next) how can we have it so successful that the city says: “Man, I’m so glad your business opened up! I can’t even remember what we did before you.” Haha! I know. But these are my thoughts. My prayers I guess. I have a couple answers but I’ll throw it out to you guys, any ideas? What do you think?

In Congo we bought bags of charcoal (cause they do all their cooking over hot coals) and gave it to the widows. Now they go around selling it and are able to make a steady income to feed themselves and their families. They’re not relying on handouts they’re self sufficient, it’s great. But what else? How can we add to the quality of life to the people in war zones? Often becoming a widow can be almost like a death sentence in Africa. “A life with no man!?!??! How ever shall I survive!?” I’m serious tho. But how can we change that? How can we partner with the widows to see them thrive; happy and successful with who they are and where they’re at? :)

For the young adults in Congo we bought sewing machines. Now they can make clothes and do tailoring for money to get them through university and stuff. Self-sufficiency that promotes education and “hopeful futures”. Lol. One of my dreams for Mugunga IDP camp is to have a “sewing center”. We could buy maybe 20 sewing machines and keep them in our building at the camp. (“Our building” lol calling things that are not as though they were!) And then anybody who needs income can come and we’ll give them some fabric and they can sew some clothes. Then when they sell it they can give a small piece of the profits back for the use to the machines. (Like paying rent. It gives it value etc.) Then the profits can go to machine maintenance and maybe a group of orphans or something!

I dunno. Just thoughts. I had an epiphany tonight that “I should go to business school!!” Haha. Probably not, I don’t like business that much, I just love justice. And for a hungry family, a bag of beans isn’t enough. Mercy which is good. Great actually! But not enough. Or least I don’t think it is. There needs to be that partnership with justice. Cause when that bag of beans runs out then what? Why not empower them to be successful on their own?

How else can we change the world?

School systems! It’s been said that North and Eastern Congo is one of the worst places in the ENTIRE WORLD to be a woman or child. That sucks. They say because of the war a child has almost no chance at education, and if they do get the opportunity the schools are so terrible they don’t really learn anything. We did some teachings and games with a group of kids in this one community in Goma. The kids were SO violent and SO numerous. Hundreds and none went to school. (I think I blogged about it earlier –it’s where the riot broke out) So my idea? WELL… when we start working in Mugunga feeding the kids, we can also train the teachers. See Mugunga has thousands of people with many different professions, teachers, doctors, pastors, farmers, cooks, etc etc. SO, we gather the teachers and offer trainings. We teach them different teaching styles, how to handle kids with trauma, behavior issues, everything. Then when they’re ready to go back to their villages we go with them! We help set up a school giving all the kids in that area a change for education, empowering them to be the change that the nation is so desperate for! BRILLIANT yeah!??! That’s one of my favorites. Anybody want to come to Congo and implement it? Or fund it? :) :)

So there are a few thoughts that helped pass the time. Any input? Any volunteers? We not only need people on the ground in Africa but people mobilizing various things in America and Canada and donors. :) Both one time and monthly! :) :)

Well I think I’m gonna make myself a cup of tea and search the house for any left over chocolate. Oh to find a piece of hidden Toblerone stashed away for desperate times such as these… :)