Cobb Family Blog
My family and I just got back from traveling with Ubuntu Life to Kenya and the experience was so emotional and impactful it is hard to find a place to start, but as all parents of small children know, it starts and ends with the kids. There are plenty of trials and tribulations involved with traveling anywhere with our 2 kiddos, Brody (8) and Channing (5), and traveling to Africa just magnifies all of them. My wife, Cami, and I will try and put a few words of our own together, and then I thought it would be interesting to get it straight from the kiddo perspective.
Going to Africa was amazing! Just when I got there I wanted to tell my friends I made it to Kenya because it’s just such an amazing place. I loved the animals, kids, Mums and dads. I felt very sad when we visited the school. I wish I could help them more than just giving them toys. I want to go back very much and visit the kids again. I made friends with three of the kids at the Masaai tribe. They play with flat soccerballs, which really surprised me. Next time I’m taking them soccer balls not footballs!
I loved seeing the kids get excited about the toys we gave them – so they can finally play.
And I loved seeing all the beautiful things in Africa!
Brian Cobb // Ubuntu Life Tribe 2020 Member and Board Member
Of course, we started off with a cough and fever on the plane for Channing that lasted what seemed like forever, but was three very long days into our trip. We first visited the Ubuntu land on the outskirts of Maai Mahiu. The sense of peace that overcomes you on the land is audible. It’s really the lack of sound that hits you as a stark contrast to driving in Nairobi, which is a whole other kind of experience that you don’t want to make a habit of during rush hour.
We were right at home at Ubuntu. We made a pallet out of cushions for the little one to sleep on while we ate one of many amazing meals at Café Ubuntu. We saw where the new school and medical clinic for the children was to be built - you could see before you all of the possibilities. We visited the Mums in the factory and then the water plant for Ubuntu Life bottled water, both which really gave me a sense for what is truly achievable when a community comes together with purposeful and tangible goals. You can feel it all around you; it’s one goal after the other being accomplished here with an undercurrent of true happiness that is uniquely Kenyan.
We then traveled to the current Ubuntu pediatric center on the other side of town, and while I have been contributing to Ubuntu in various ways for a while now, there is no way to truly understand the real impact you have on these children without seeing it firsthand. It was uplifting and inspirational, but equally shattering and centering. You see the love all around you, but you also feel a small part of the injustice that these children and their families experience and the senselessness of it all. I was so proud of my children and how they met the experience with open arms. They laughed, played and took in everything around them. Their popularity skyrocketed as they passed out small toys to everyone, and we all left with the feeling that we’re truly making a huge difference in a small place on the other side of the world.
Next, we spent an afternoon with the Massai Tribe who does all of Ubuntu’s beadwork on their turf in the Maasai land. It really opened my eyes to what it means to be a part of a tribe. The struggle between industrialization and the tribe was very apparent.
Brody gave his camera to a group of kids and then did his best modeling for them while the rest of the group went nuts for all the beading going on under the acacia trees. We got to visit with some of these Massai in their homes, and I have never seen happier or more proud faces.
And there’s just something about eating a goat that was walking around a few hours earlier that I just don’t get at home. The whole experience was uniquely special in so many ways.
Several amazing days later and you’re left wondering where your place is in it all… at least I am. You want to move the sun and stars for these children; you want to be a part of this amazing tribe J-man and Z-man dreamed up years ago and do your bit where you can. This tribe is unstoppable and does so much for so many, but even with all these impactful and empowering things, I feel like I’m the one gaining the most from it. I experienced an entire family’s shift in perspective, and it couldn’t be more amazing. Now my family and I get the opportunity to learn, grow and dream of the possibilities right along with Ubuntu for many years to come, and to me, that’s what it means to be a part of this Tribe.
We live in a bubble. Our lives are tailored around gated and well-manicured communities and high-end shopping areas. When we decided to get more involved in our community our main objective was to make sure our children were also involved. Ubuntu is one of the only organizations that has allowed us to truly submerge our children in an authentic and life- changing experience. We went as a family this past November to Kenya and we continue to talk about our experience on a daily basis with anyone willing to listen.
Both my children are timid and reserved a bit in any new situation, and I knew this would be taking them way out of their comfort zone. But in the very first classroom we entered we all slowly moved in and some of us got down with some of the little ones and began to hear some of their own challenging life stories. I noticed my little girl, Channing, take to one of the kids and they began to play with a little toy. She was still not 100% comfortable, but in no time had started to bond with this little precious toddler.
Being able to see my children interact and listen to these children’s stories was life changing for all of us. All the stories we heard at the school were heart-wrenching and hard for anyone to digest. My son connected with the story of a kid close to his age who was now paralyzed from the waist down. My daughter could not wrap her mind around these children who had to endure so much tragedy. In our normal lives, I proactively shield my kids from the constant barrage of violent news stories on the TV and radio. But there, in Kenya, with these beautiful children and teachers I wanted them to hear every story, hear what these kids went through since birth on a daily basis just to survive. It’s an important lesson to see how joyful and appreciative people can be in the harshest of environments.
As we moved throughout the school the children were so excited to see our kids. My 5-year- old was swarmed as they pulled and tugged at her. I thought for sure she may want me to pick her up, but she said. “No, I’m fine.” And proceeded to let them tug and touch her all over. As she was sitting next to one of them she took out a $5 bill, that had been given to her as a bet, and handed it over to one of the young boys. My son could not stop talking about the stories he heard and what else we could bring the kids next year instead of hot wheels and nail polish.
Through my children’s eyes, I saw their experience was that much more pronounced. The connection they made in Africa is something that will last a lifetime for all of us. Please go to Africa and see what this organization is really doing, and if you can, please take your kids.