As I sat down to write this piece recapping Amal’s and my three months in Kenya, I decided to walk over to the nearby Starbucks for a quick afternoon pick-me-up. As I ordered my coffee, I noticed a customer wearing a beaded Kenyan flag cuff bracelet next to me. We then struck up a conversation, and it turned out she and her family just went on their first trip to East Africa. Not only that, it turns out that she is a behavioral health specialist who was picking up about a dozen coffees and heading to a health professionals meeting focused on the future plans for healthcare in Kenya. I shared with her about our sister Foundation and the recent grand opening of our Children’s Wellness Centre (CWC) focused on special needs health and education…small world!
This is one of the things I love about living with a mindset of Ubuntu. If we pay attention, we see our connection to one another everywhere around us. Our need for each other could be that person right next to us scooping up their afternoon coffee.
With that said, this past trip was nothing short of magical. From hosting three of our favorite Tribe members (yes, we have favorites!), the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the CWC with over 700 community members, and being part of our first ever helicopter landing on the Ubuntu Campus, the trip was filled with game changing events promising great things. Of course, this is after a challenging and grinding two years where we barely made it through our COVID recovery, making this trip that much sweeter after drinking plenty of bitterness.
There are too many wonderful memories to share here, so I have selected one that I believe captures it all. It was my last week in Kenya. I’m sitting outside Cafe Ubuntu enjoying a cup of coffee and catching up with Jeremiah, Rubie Ruth, and Amal when all of a sudden, a group of our Ubuntu Kiddos and their teachers come around the corner to enjoy their late morning recess. I decided to get up and join in on the playtime. As I pushed kiddos on the swing, I looked up at our Maker Studio and noticed a few of our Maker Mums at their sewing machines, looking on with smiles. At that moment, my heart became so full with this joyous feeling that, “WE DID IT!” After so many years of heavy lifting, storytelling, fundraising, etc., we finally accomplished this vision of creating a safe, loving, and powerful space where mums who were once outcasts for having children with special needs are now fully employed making our beautiful products and also now watching on as their kiddos play freely, openly and safely all while receiving the health and educational support for their daily needs.
It was one of those simple, fleeting moments, but one filled with years of effort from so many. A BIG thank you to everyone who has made this all possible. If it were not for our countless friends, customers, donors, and stakeholders, we would not be where we are. Again…UBUNTU…we are all in need of each other, all connected. Thank you!
Amal & Zane