More faces, voices, news from Kenya and an update on Tuko Pamoja
Despite the demands of my life here keeping me away from blogging there has been a lot going on with KEST, Nyumbani and Tuko Pamoja. As you know from my last post, Lloydie Zaiser accompanied a group of student volunteers to Kenya this summer and they had an amazing time. I didn’t have any of their photos the last time I posted but I do have some of them now.They went to all of the sites to which we had been ……plus a few more recreational ones like this (I just couldn’t resist including this photo!)
They spent time at Nyumbani Children’s Home, Nyumbani Village, the Pastoral Community Development Alliance of the Maasai Community and all the sites where we are collaborating with Kenyan women to sell their crafts.
And all the while during all the volunteer and fun activities–and there many goals accomplished, Lloydie was working on the goals of Toko Pumoja (Swahili for “we are together”). She was meeting with all the women of the various groups–the Self Help Groups of LeaToto, the women of Kibera Paper, the PCDA Maasai crafts women and the basket making Shushus of Nyumbani Village. She placed an order for their goods when she first arrived in Kenya and paid them half of the fair market value and when she left she paid them the other half and gathered the goods for 8 scheduled sales events in the U.S. So upon her departure from Kenya, 138 Kenyan mommas all living in poverty had sold their goods and been paid and were very happy to be making a better living. We now need to sell their goods in the U.S. and continue to expand the market here to keep this sustainable for them.
Meanwhile back in the states, in Maryland, Jen was doing a stellar job of writing up the business plan for Tuko Pamoja with all the official verbiage and sparkle that it needed prepare it for an official entry into the Montgomery County MD business plan competition in which Tuko Pamoja emerged as a semifinalist!! Right after Lloydie returned from Kenya, she and Jen embarked on another adventure of presenting the business plan in the competition. If you knew Lloydie and Jen like I do then you would know that when they did their personal presentation there could not have been a more passionate duo! So now Tuko Pamoja appears in the Washington Post under “Capital Business” where everyone can go and vote for their favorite business plan of the competition. So please go to the website, view the video and vote so that you can help us get more coverage and support for Tuko Pamoja to further the cause in helping the Kenyan women and their children and communities! http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-business/post/pick-your-pitch-which-business-plan-has-the-most-promise/2012/08/01/gJQAaTPMPX_blog.html
For those of you who live near me, SAVE THE DATE OF OCTOBER 13TH! that will be our own local Tuko Pamoja event at the Frontier. There will be a slide show and presentation in the theatre and sales of the Kenyan Women’s crafts before and after. (And if I’m really ambitious and have the time to prepare some hanging photography as part of the second Friday art walk the night before.)
Loydie and Jen– Tuko Pamoja– “We are together!”
Once Lloydie arrived home I started getting sweet photos by email and received a wonderful package in the mail. It was a grab bag of meaningful Kenyan items and some personal correspondence that just warmed my heart. First of all there were some awesome Tuka Pamoja items including a tee shirt with that very phrase and a painting which I recognized to be the artwork of the Kibera paper artists, the creators of our Tuka Pamoja logo.
Painting from the artists of Kibera Paper
Jefferson (left) who keeps in regular touch with me and another nice young man I’ve met at Nyumbani Village
Also in the package I received were letters from Caroline the student we sponsor at Nyumbani Village and from the boy who I started on some medication the last time I was there. He wrote to thank me for sending more medication to him (some samples) and to let me know that he was feeling well and that he is back at school (his father posed for a picture with Lloydie for me which I was delighted to receive.) I am anxious to see him again in January. From Caroline I got a lovely letter telling that she is working hard at her studies and that someday she would like to become a doctor. “I pray to God to continue giving you that heart of generosity you have with poor people and especially orphans….My brothers Joshua and Caleb have greeted you together with our house members and more so our grand shushu. We love you and we are hoping to see you when you will come. One philosopher said small deeds done are better than big deeds planned…..may God bless until I see you in early February as I will be graduating then…..” It would be hard not to be touched by the stories heard vicariously through the news from the summer travelers, the photos sent home, and the touching comments in hand written letters. I maintain contact with Lilian the village counselor who recently updated me on how the other children are doing at Nyumbani village……and asked if I had found any other psychiatrists who would like to come and volunteer yet. I told her I would keep working on that. If anyone would like to have a life changing experience, one you can’t really imagine in advance, and one that’s hard to even put into words, think about joining us on a trip to Kenya….its an annual experience that gets better each year….maybe 2014?