Watoto Wote Wazuri


Posted in Giving back, Kenya, Nyumbani, Tuko Pamoja by Lynn Ouellette on 10/05/2014
First slide of the presentation

First slide of the presentation

I want to dedicate this blog post to my mother who passed away far to soon this summer and was an amazing woman in her own right. She is the one who taught me at an early age that all people are created equally and deserve to be treated with respect and kindness regardless of race, disability or other ways of being different from me. She was also a “Momma” with strength, resilience, and grace who was my best teacher about generosity, compassion and love.

My Mom

My Mom

The busy fall season of Tuko Pamoja has begun with home parties, markets and bazaars scheduled in many places! This is when we take all of the beautiful crafts that the Kenyan women of Tuko Pamoja  have made to sell on the road. Equally as important as selling their wares is telling their stories–that these are amazing mothers and grandmothers who live in poverty, raise their own children and many others, have suffered enormous hardship, but still live their lives with grace, resilience, and strength.

Yesterday was the day for my Tuko Pamoja event–the third annual such event which was hosted at the Frontier Cafe, whose staff, especially Emily,  provide us with wonderful support and whose philosophy supports the kind of work that we do. When I looked at the perpetual African Wisdom Calendar for the day, this what I found:

So appropriate!

So appropriate!

Perfect wisdom for the day which turned out to be a very successful one. Lloydie, Bill and Sidey arrived from Maryland toting hundreds of pounds of ware for my event and another one scheduled in Hanover Vermont today. As Tuko Pamoja has grown it has been much more to manage so kudos to Sidey for organizing, coding, branding, and creating a masterful warehouse in Lloydie’s basement.

Sidey at the checkout

Sidey at the checkout

Only a portion of the hundreds of pounds

Only a portion of the hundreds of pounds

We had a wonderful display and so much inventory to capture people’s interest, both those who came by invitation and those arriving to have a meal at the Frontier who were interested and even enamored with the crafts we had to offer and the story behind them. The Frontier is a wonderful place to host this since they also have a theater where I can do a presentation, along  with Lloydie and her boundless enthusiasm. My presentation was focused on telling the story of how Tuko Pamoja came to be, “introducing” the women and giving people a feeling of why we do this work–because we love the mothers and grandmothers, and the children they are raising. People can see that buying their crafts helps them to survive in poverty, but also to thrive with pride. My presentation was the story, but also the heart of Tuko Pamoja and the difference you can make in peoples lives, and them in yours. I always enjoy presenting this, but the experience has so touched me (and the others involved) that I never get through it without  getting choked up and shedding tears. I have come to expect that…

Sign provided by The Frontier who included us the "events" on their website

Sign provided by The Frontier who included us the calendar of events on their website.

Baskets from Nyumbani Village

Baskets from Nyumbani Village


A small section of our display of crafts.

Lloydie telling two impromptu shoppers about the women and the crafts

Lloydie telling two impromptu shoppers about the women and the crafts.

A young shopper admiring the children's section

A young shopper admiring the children’s section

My two college roommates, Sue and Chris, who came from out of state to support us and become happy shoppers  (many thanks)

My two college roommates, Sue and Chris, who came from out of state to support us and become happy shoppers (many thanks)

We had a very successful day, a captive audience for the presentation, wonderful inquisitive and supportive shoppers and had sales that significantly exceeded last year’s event. The Kenyan women of Tuko Pamoja will once again be thrilled with the reception of their crafts and the comments to them in the guest book as they were in this video clip:

One of the additional, quite wonderful experiences of the day is an opportunity to reunite with past volunteers who live near enough to attend, with whom you can’t help but have a powerful bond. And since three of us who live in Maine will be going on this year’s trip it was an early opportunity for people to share excitement over dinner about planning the trip. I was thrilled to see Kristen who volunteered on the 2011 trip and and even more thrilled to know that both she and her partner Jon will be part of the travel group this year.

Spirited discussion with Kristen about getting to travel together again.

Spirited discussion with Kristen about getting to travel together again.

I am delighted to have two other people from Maine who are enthusiastic about going on this year’s trip Judy, a first time traveler, and Valerie who is returning for her second year. Since both work in the mental health field,  Lloydie is already planning their placements in our Kenya sites so they can share their professional expertise.

Five of the Kenya volunteer group for this year--already bonding over the common cause

Five of the Kenya volunteer group for this year–already bonding over the common cause. (Kristen, Lloydie, Judy, me and Valerie)

We depart in mid January to spend another amazing, touching, life-changing time in Kenya with the women of Tuko Pamoja and all of the children of Nyumbani. We all ate dinner together with family members at the Frontier after the work of the day was done, and excitement about the upcoming trip was hard to be contained and, of course, shouldn’t be.  The countdown to departure begins…


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10 Responses

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  1. billbeckett said, on 10/05/2014 at 6:05 pm

    great post!!


    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 10/06/2014 at 7:56 am

      Thanks. I struggled with how to start it up again since it wouldn’t feel genuine not to acknowledge how life has changed…



      • Justus mwaka said, on 10/09/2014 at 7:25 am

        Lynn, I can’t belive you have all what I have been thinking to explain to anyone if at all he/she may ask me what’s all about K E S T in all this pictures. Thanks for all the wonderful work you are doing,may it grow beyond your expectations.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Ouellette said, on 10/09/2014 at 6:14 pm

        Hi Justus,

        Thank you so much! It’s so great to hear from you. This event got us so excited to return. We’re thrilled to hear that you will be our driver the whole time and that you will stay in Nyumbani Village with us. You will love my friend Judy who is coming this time. I told her that going on safari with you will be so much fun–like being a kid again. Can’t wait to see you!


  2. Gail Dalferes said, on 10/07/2014 at 9:51 am

    Lynn – thank you for your blog and for sharing so much of yourself with your readers. The good work you, Lloydie and the rest of team Tuko Pamoja do for and with the Kenyan women who supply these products is truly inspirational. In sharing your thoughts and hopes and grief you also inspire and comfort and let us know we are not alone – we are all in this together. Asante – for your courage and your spirit. Gail

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 10/07/2014 at 9:24 pm

      Thank you so much Gail for appreciating the blog and for such kind words. It has been a tremendously hard year, but the Tuko Pamoja event, planning the trip to Kenya and anticipating the return to be with the women and children are great spirit lifters and always so fulfilling.


  3. Lloydie said, on 10/08/2014 at 7:40 am

    Reliving the day over and over again! Doesn’t get much better than last Saturday… divine guests, high quality products and the will to help the 170 women of Tuko Pamoja. Your presentation was wonderful as always. Great to meet your friends and join hands to help our sisters in Kenya. Lynn, you ROCK my world!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sharon tardiff said, on 10/08/2014 at 11:21 am

    Thanks for posting pictures of what I missed. I know it’s not about shopping………but my mouth was drooling at the pictures of stuff. Such talent and hard work. Lynn you are always in my prayers and sending warm cyber hugs to you. You have been a miracle in my life and I will never forget that. I goof up but I am human. I recognize Judy..good person and takes no crap LOL…I wish we didn’t need groups like this in this world, but we do and you gals are getting it done. I can’t wait for blogs when your on your trip. Makes me feel warm inside. Hugs to you all. Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 10/08/2014 at 6:22 pm

      Thanks Sharon. Delighted to hear from you. Love your comments. Yes, there will be plenty more to come as we count down, then head off to Kenya in mid January.


  5. debdearmon said, on 10/13/2014 at 2:28 pm

    Oh how I miss all of you wonderful ladies! I wish Iowa wasn’t so far away! I felt your spirit as I read your post and can’t wait until we are tuko pamoja in Kenya yet again. Sending love! Amani na Upendo…xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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