The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

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Kenya, we need to talk!

#KenyanLivesMatter

Dear Kenyans,

Did you sleep last night?

I didn’t. 

I couldn’t.

Not when in a distance, a neighborhood was forced awake all night with riots.

Not when police helicopters flew over my roof.

Not when gunshots poked through my sweet dreams, awakening me into a live nightmare.
Somehow, I fell asleep in the morning.

And I woke up to a stomach full of acid.

Loss of appetite (haven’t eaten since I woke up).

And a broken heart.
How on earth did we get here again?

How did we allow politics make us look at our neighbours differently? 

How could we bring chaos to our neighborhoods while the politicians we support go back to safe and secure homes?
I’m so tired.

I’m tired of being tired and scared every election season.

This needs to stop.
I’ve prayed and kept my peace.

I’ve voted wisely for leaders who promise great change.

I’ve been a good Kenyan.

It still seems not to be enough.
So what now?

We really need to figure ourselves out and make a decision about what we really want.

ALL the leaders we choose mirror our current values and priorities.

So why are we shocked when a police gun no longer protects us but is aimed at us?

When a 10-year-old girl standing at a balcony loses her life from a stray bullet?

When a journalist tries to capture and report to us a real story on the ground and gets arrested?
Kenyans, we need to talk.

We seriously need to sort ourselves out.

But as we painfully become aware of our mess…

We can at least try to be peaceful and see that we really do matter.

Our Kenyan Lives Matter.
Love, 

Ayuma.

🇰🇪❤

A Last Dance in the Rain

Dancing in the Rain

a last dance in the rain

 

It’s raining outside,
And the sound of gentle drops on my window is beautiful and calming.

So I push back the curtain,
Peek out the window with nostalgic wonder.

And I’m met with a blue-grey blanket of rain,
One that paints a sweet memory of us, silent, listening to our hearts beat.

It’s hard to believe,
All I can sense of you now is hidden in pockets of nature.

Yet still,
Feel robbed of a chance to encounter our nature.

Days go by,
These memories, I fear, will start to fade.

As I dream of a time when you were the rain,
And I ran outside,
And we gently danced our last in nature’s embrace.

Finding Your Own Tribe

Finding your own tribe

Finding a Tribe Through Shared Values

During a wonderful conversation with my taxi driver recently, we talked business and discussed the tariff rivalry between Uber and that of Safaricom’s new Little Cab taxi service.

I was really concerned about the climate of his business but he confidently reassured me, “Don’t worry, it’s business as usual for me.” “Uber and Little Cab customers are actually not my customers,” he added.

He explained that his customers are people who’ve known him over the years and now trust him. Also, that it’s ok if Uber & Little cab users don’t opt for his services, he’s got his own pack hooked onto the value of friendship, loyalty and trust.

Now I know why I’ve been his customer for all these years despite Uber & Little Cab cheap tariffs.

I’ve been investing in a relationship, not money.

Truly, a great business lesson from my dear taxi driver, Victor (aka Baba Daniel).

#BeInspired

WHY I WEPT ON MY 2015 BIRTHDAY

Courage.jpg

Courage is an Attitude

I had just come from Nairobi Garage where I had hosted an early-morning speed networking event for young Nairobi entrepreneurs. It was the very last event. I could not afford to produce another one. So I had a little cupcake and coffee party to thank my guests, and to encourage them to keep on with their good work. I went home.
 
With my handbag still on my shoulder, I sat on the couch, silent.
With a box of stationery still on my lap, I stared at the feedback forms inside.
Warm tears slowly slithered down my cheeks into the box.
Suddenly, a loud cry burst out of my mouth and echoed into the box.
 
I felt like such a big failure!
A failure to my company. A failure to myself. A failure to my parents who’d invested in my business. A failure to my supporters. A failure to my country.
 
After weeping, I sat on the couch for a while, trying to figure out my next steps. Normally, I would write an evaluation of the event and plan for the next one. Then send a message of thanks to guests, along with a networking tip.
 
But this time round, I had no idea what would be my next step.
I could not afford to pay back the loans from my parents because the banks I had visited didn’t offer loans to young unmarried ladies with small enterprises. I got to understand why there are so many microfinance banks for women in Kenya. Despite modernisation, most banks still see women as high-risk customers.
 
I could not reach out to my mentor because our relationship had been tarnished by his sexual advances. He had been in the process of supporting my application for a grant at an embassy, the accounting firm already set to receive the funds. But when he realised that I stand firm on my principles, he blocked the process and sent me this message: “I can’t be a mentor to a person like you. The people I mentor understand how we work. No wonder your startup is not working!”
 
So I put down the box of stationery, slipped off the couch onto the floor and removed my shoes.
I prayed. I wept. I prayed some more.
 
Exposed and vulnerable is what I felt as a human being. But I did not care at that point. If I were to be broken and all vulnerable, I would rather be so before my God who is also my friend. I asked Jesus to show me that all my effort had not been in vain. I asked for His guidance.
 
A wave of calmness came over me and I found the strength to smile. Suddenly, I noticed the chocolate cupcake that had remained from the party I had with my guests. I grabbed it, took a bite, and told myself: “Happy Birthday Michelle! All will be well.”
 
One birthday later, I am so grateful to have my prayers answered.
My parents chose to look over the loans I owed them, and invested in furthering my education in Social Innovation Management at the Amani Institute. So happy that I’ll be graduating this month. Yay!
 
I found the courage to take a few steps back on the idea I had had to focus on the core, which is positive conversations that inspire positive change. Now, I serve change leaders as a coach through a project that celebrates storytelling for leadership.
 
Despite not having surplus funds at the moment, I have never lacked. Opportunities are showing up along my journey. Not to mention the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to meet and learn from.
 
I’ve got a strong roof over my head, food to put on my table and clothes to keep me warm. Every day, I wake up to new opportunities to serve people by doing what I love.
 
The greatest lesson I have learnt is that…
Failure is a great teacher with an ugly face.
It takes courage to look past the ugly face and see a resource to learn from.
 
Courage is a key word this new year of my life.
 
My hope is that this little story of mine encourages you never to give up on you. And remember…
 
Courage, Prayer & Chocolate cake!
 
Happy Birthday to me

Rivers or Dams? Pick one!

 

Berta Caceres 2015 Goldman Environmental Award Recipient

Berta Caceres stands at the Gualcarque River in the Rio Blanco region of western Honduras where she, COPINH (the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) and the people of Rio Blanco have maintained a two year struggle to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric project, that poses grave threats to local environment, river and indigenous Lenca people from the region. Source: goldmanprize.org

 

As we chase after modern knowledge, skills & lifestyles, are we loosing ourselves?

We are all indigenous to somewhere on this earth.

We all came from somewhere!

Our human identity isn’t in fashion brands, fast cars, academic achievements, air mileage and fancy houses.

Our identity depends on real connections with humanity, not things.

Berta Cáceres has taught us an expensive lesson – to protect our identity or allow our footprints to vanish from existence.

This International Women’s Day 2016, I celebrate Berta’s courage as a female warrior who fought for equality, environmental conservation, protection of her indigenous culture and peace!

Visit goldmanprize.org for more about Berta Cáceres!

#IWD2016

 

 

Lessons from Betty the Bean

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Betty the Bean

So a few weeks ago, I planted Betty the bean in the backyard. She is a special bean because she can produce about 300 beans even in a tiny space!!! I had to search for a safe place for her to grow and I found it. But it took her longer than an ordinary bean to germinate.

I was afraid that she wouldn’t make it. The rains fell upon the ground for a number of days and I kept checking up on her every morning and evening. At last, she sprouted off the ground but some ants ate up one of her food reserve on her cotyledon.

Still, I kept watering her and feeding her some organic manure. Monday morning this week, as I brushed my teeth I went straight to the backyard and saw Betty standing tall and strong with two whole leaves 🙂
She’s now a strong little seedling!!!

In my journey to discovering my purpose, I keep facing challenges that make me doubt if that great purpose is really for me. But even when the time takes longer than usual, even when stormy seasons almost drown me, even when adversity tries to bully me… I still believe that by standing my ground, I’ll break through the tough times.

I’ll soak up the good from all that’s around me and turn it into a motivation to help me get to the next part of the journey.

It’s not easy, but after coming this far, it’ll only be silly to give up hope when everything in me is already showing that little by little I’m almost there.

Do you feel like a Betty bean today?

Be strong, courageous, and believe in your able roots.

Finally, I found purpose!

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Atop a Crater at Lake Naivasha.

I’m sitting at the top of a high crater that surrounds Lake Naivasha like a cylindrical tower studded with lush greenery. In silence, I absorb the magnificent sound and scent of nature in its glory.

Below, beautiful ripples over the Lake Naivasha and Rosa a lonely flamingo standing on one leg in a distance.

Over the crater, welcomes a carpet of green fertile land with cows grazing and their shepherds guiding them.

The wind blowing, leaves rustling, I sense the comfort of new friends around me.

Suddenly, I realise that I am right where I need to be in this moment.

Ready to start a new chapter of my life that gives me permission to obey the longing voice in my heart – PURPOSE.”

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