Watoto Wote Wazuri

Nyumbani and Tuko Pamoja–A lot to celebrate!!

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Responding to poverty in Kenya, Women helping women by Lynn Ouellette on 10/14/2012

I haven’t posted for awhile because I have been so so busy with all things Nyumbani and Tuko Pamoja! Many fellow KEST travelers and the Board of Tuko Pamoja met outside of Washington D.C. two weekends ago for a weekend chock full of events. On Friday evening was the Annual Fundraising Gala for Nyumbani which was also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the start of the Nyumbani programs. Everything began with Father D’Agostino, Jesuit priest and psychiatrist who wanted to do do something for the children who were dying of AIDS in Kenya. The Children’s home began as a hospice program, but things have changed a lot since then. At the gala, we got to view a new video celebrating 20 years of Father D’Ag’s vision of the Nyumbani Programs.


Some of my fellow KEST travels reunited after having not been together since our travels together and it was a mighty spirited time celebrating the connections we have developed in this passion of caring for AIDs orphans.

KEST travelers reunite!

We both attended and volunteered at the GALA raising a lot of funds at the sales table! This summer, when I might usually paint Maine landscapes I painted Kenyan portraits which I donated for Gala auction.

Painting of Nyumbani Village Shushus

But the Gala was only one event in the several days we spent outside D.C. Tuko Pamoja also had a Board Meeting (or several) in which we reviewed the progress we have made toward working with the Kenyan Mommas to sell their goods in the U.S. and the plan, BIG PLANS we have as we move ahead!

Lloydie leading the Tuko Pamoja board meeting

Tuko Pamoja folder–Our motto from JFK “One person can make a difference and everyone should try. “

Not only do we have 8 sales events planned for this fall, the reception has been so great that we will be able to plan 6 or 7 for the spring. When we travel to Kenya in January we will have a meeting with Kenyan Board members and then a workshop for representatives from each group of women to offer training in financial and business skills, product quality control and development,  and self esteem and professionalism. We have a lot more up our sleeves, but let me share some of the successes which have actually happened. Lloydie and Jen did a dry-run sales party the weekend before the board arrived and that was a great success. This was a warm up event for the weekend of the Gala when the kick-off sales party for Tuko Pamoj was scheduled to occur with Sister Mary Owens, the Executive Director of all the Nyumbani programs in Kenya, who was present as our honored guest. Sister Mary updated people on the status of Nyumbani  and spoke with wisdom and inspiration about the need to support the mothers and grandmothers who are raising the children affected by AIDS in Kenya. She acknowledged that it is most often, as it should be “all about the children” yet it is the women who raise the children who also need to be supported. Jen and Lloydie show a photo of an individual woman from each of the groups and shared their personal story. And I was surprised to learn that my poem about Kenyan women (below) which it now seems I wrote a long time ago has become the ritual opening for all Tuko Pamoja events! Then we let everyone shop!

Shopping at Tuko Pamoja event

Nyumbani Village baskets

Kibera Paper cards

And shop they did!! After everyone was done we were excited to see what the proceeds from the first official Tuko Pamoja event had been and found that a whopping $2700 had been made!

Tuko Pamoja Board with Sister Mary Owens, Exec Dir of Nyumbani

After these events, cyberspace was lighting up between Rockville, MD (Lloydie Zaiser’s home) and many sites in Kenya as we shared news of future Tuko Pamoja plans and of its success with the Kenyan Board and the Mommas! We had a hard time departing for the weekend but we knew that some of us would meet again real soon as Tuka Pamoja would hit the road to New England in 2 weeks.

Over this past weekend, there were 2 additional TP events. I hosted an event in Brunswick Maine at the Frontier, a wonderful restaurant and establishment with a mission of highlighting global cultures. It was the perfect venue with an art walk Friday night for photos of beautiful Kenyan faces, a theatre for doing a presentation on our mission and about the Mommas and children, and a great space for setting up sales tables which were extremely well received. Thanks to the generous people who attended, many of whom were my friends, this Tuko Pamoja event netted another $2600. Because I was so busy with all aspects of the event, I cannot believe that I didn’t take a single photo, not one.

TP was back on the road this morning as LLoydie met Jen in Hanover New Hampshire for a home sales event at Karen Geiling’s house (another board member). Proceeds were another $1500! We are so excited that we have been able to surpass replacing the seed money that we borrowed (we also had generous donors) and will certainly have the funds to once again pay the mommas in full a fair market price for another big order when we return to Kenya. We have all been feeling the thrill of helping our sisters across the globe to have an income to feed their families and to feel some hope for the future.


Nyumbani Village Shu Shu weaving a basket

Maasai Momma of PCDA

Vision Self Help Group of Dandora

Kibera Paper Mommas

2 Responses

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  1. Sharon Tardiff said, on 10/15/2012 at 7:31 am

    Thanks so much for sharing and showing what’s been going on. I wish I could have attended this past weekend. Would love to have met everyone involved, and of course done some shopping 🙂 I will always treasure what you all share through the computer. Makes the world seem just a little smaller and things closer than it actually is. Love the pictures of the ladies making there goods. Such beautiful work and the togetherness (that’s what I like the most is wondering.What they are talking about and no cell phones, no text messaging going on). I am sure it’s not all fun and games, but one can wish.


  2. Peter Gumisiriza said, on 05/07/2013 at 4:02 am

    This is Marvelous and I love it!


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