The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘passion’

Bank on being you!

Bank on being you

Bank on being you

One of my mentors is an event planner who’s been in the event planning business for more than 20 years in Kenya. Let’s call her Alice*.

During a session one day, I asked her what an entrepreneur should protect at all times. I thought she was going to mention networks, investment, knowledge/wisdom, loyal staff members…etc.

Little did I expect to hear her say, “your creativity.”

Alice went further to explain that it is what has kept her in business for more than 20 years. Despite her being one of the pioneers in the wedding industry in Kenya, she has faced challenging times as people check-in to her organisation in the name of “learning” yet in reality some are often sent by competitors to copy her mode of running business. Boy am I learning it first-hand as others try to do the same with my new startup.

Over the years, Alice watched businesses come up and crash down as they tried to copy her approach. They got what they wanted so why didn’t the businesses thrive?

Well, her answer to this is that copying is attractive but in real sense more tiresome than coming up with your own ideas. When a business faces challenges, it is the leader’s creativity that often plays a part in salvaging the organisation.

In her events business, Alice was able to always come up with new products, services and approaches that the “copy cats” found hard to keep up with because they only depended upon her steps. Her creativity helped to fuel her vision which helped her branch out of Kenya and into other countries while some of the “copy cats” went out of business over the years.

Moral of the story: You are your best asset because you are the only one who understands your vision 100%. So protect your creativity as this is what every successful person holds as a secret weapon. Look at some of the most successful initiatives in the world then do a background check on the leaders who contributed to their success. You’ll realise that it’s their creativity that helped them spot opportunities in places, things and climates where others didn’t see possible for the success of their vision.

#StayMotivated

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The Young Visionary

The Young Visionary

The Young Visionary

VISION is what many young people lack in today’s world and don’t wake up to each day.

Here are a few things that I have come to learn:

You cannot “get there” without knowing where you are going.

You cannot “work” without passion and expect to be happy.
You cannot compare yourself with others and expect to be content.


You cannot try to be like someone else and expect to be 100% like them.


You cannot be at peace if there is a war of insecurity happening inside you.


Work on what you’ve got on the inside and you’ll be amazed at how it beautifully manifests on the outside.

Stay positive!

Why Have I Been Silent?

First, my apologies. I chose to explore the world of entrepreneurship through events and see where the road leads. It has been the case of crazy beautiful, but I am glad that I got the opportunity to start. I’ll be sharing some of the inspiring lessons I learn along the way so let’s keep in touch!

Innovative Teen Farmers!

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There are no words to express just how proud I am of my students at the Seed of Hope Centre!

As a mentor, I had decided to explore a different mode of teaching. I took a chair, sat down and gave the teens a platform for creative self expression.
These kids spend all-day learning in class but it was about time they had a form of output outside class activities.

Value of Student Clubs

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After successfully establishing four clubs during the last school term (Technology, Young Leaders,  Talents, Agriculture), the students are still packed with energy for more ways to develop their interests.

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The Agriculture Club stepped up and officially launched their club with fun landscaping activities around the school where both students and teachers participated.

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Innovative Farming

During the August 2014 school holidays, the Agriculture Club members independently organised holiday club activities like purchasing potato sacks (with their own money) for their landless kale farming project.

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All this, I came to witness recently when I visited the Centre to surprise the teachers with some news about the support of the Rabbit Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries through a rabbit production manual for the students to use.

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The potato sacks had been filled with fertile soil and vibrant green kale seedlings danced to a gentle breeze as they hang on the sides of the sacks.

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From the teens at Seed of Hope, I have witnessed a great shift of behavior and attitude. They no longer need to be told that they could have a great future; they believe so. They don’t need to be closely monitored, they have learnt to be independent. They don’t need to be told, “Smile” because they naturally smile all the time.

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How to get involved

There are a number of ways you could get involved as a friend of Seed of Hope:

The teens at the Centre need mentorship for club projects by professionals under the following fields:

*Agriculture – Kale farming. Rabbit farming. Chicken farming. Pest control of kale seedlings.

*Techies – How to use iPads. How to create and manage a Facebook page. How to use the internet for school research projects.

*Young Leaders – How to be a leader amongst fellow young people. How to overcome challenges that come with youth leadership. Opportunities that teen leaders need to explore.

*Creatives – Innovative projects for a club with a mix of talents (Singing, Fashion Design, modelling).

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How to make a donation

The Seed of Hope teens are in need of various items that will go a long way in improving their lives and stay at school. These include:

1. Bras, panties, clothes, sanitary towels and bathing soap for girls.

2. Underwear, bathing soap and clothes for boys.

3. Farming equipment for the Agriculture Club. (Spades, hoes, digging forks, farming machetes & rakes)

4. Any support that will contribute to internet connection for the students. (Currently no internet access at the Centre)

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Contact:
Florence
Headmistress – Seed of Hope Centre
Mobile: (+254)721405298
OkHi Map Link: http://goo.gl/e0yXNz

For more about the Seed of Hope Centre, please click here.

Going against the grain

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“I can’t remember the last party I attended as a young man…” This was an interesting confession during a chat last week with Bob Collymore who is Safaricom Limited’s CEO.

I had always thought that meeting someone as successful as Bob Collymore would leave me feeling so small yet hopeful that I could one day become just as great. This was not the case.

Instead, I was humbled, inspired and reassured that I have been on the right track towards my success. See, it was a Friday afternoon and instead of going home to get ready for a fun girls’ night out, I was at the Seed of Hope Centre where I volunteer as a mentor for young boys and girls.
I hadn’t noticed this until he said, “You could be anywhere else but you chose to be here…” He explained that it was a sacrifice not many young people would be willing to make.

What followed was a motivation to go against the grain and invest in people because that is what matters most in life.

At the end of the day, when we look back and what we see is anything but the betterment of people’s lives, we not only fail ourselves but humanity.

He told me this knowing that I am a young Kenyan who is currently unemployed but who has got a passion for mentoring young people. He saw gold where many saw a struggling person.

Now if this doesn’t show how a successful mind works, then I don’t know what does.

What is more important than the beginning and the achievement of success is the journey towards success. Embrace it!

Proudly Humanitarian – Reshma Aziz Khan

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It is very rare in life to come across people who literally put their heart into what they do for a living. Fortunately, I have got one such friend called Reshma who is not only a warm pot of joy, but a true warrior when it comes to the business of helping people. But what makes one stop for a while and think, “I want to be a humanitarian?” Well, this is how Reshma discovered her passion as an aid worker.

Reshma: When I was young, I wanted to be a cardiac surgeon. My dad had a heart condition, and I wanted to grow up and help people like him… but then before he passed away, I started to get some averse reaction to seeing blood, so that plan definitely was not going to work! I still wanted to help people, and when I was in high school, someone told me about the life of an aid worker – I was hooked! Knowing that there are millions out there who need a helping hand. We have all been put on this earth as ONE humanity, and it is our responsibility to lend that helping hand, no matter how tough that can get!

So what has Reshma been up to lately?A marathon! But not just any other marathon. This year, Reshma has signed-up for the #Dead2Red marathon where she will be running with her team from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.  She tells us more about the marathon:

Reshma: So it’s actually an annual event, the Dead 2 Red Marathon,  a relay event suitable for amateurs and athletes of all ages and genders without restriction. The marathon stretches 242 kilometres from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. It starts at an altitude of 415 metres below sea level and leads up through the Arabian Desert reaching an altitude of 120 metres above sea level before descending towards the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba at the Red Sea.

Quite a brave challenge it is to be running from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea! What would make Reshma leave her comfy desk in Nairobi to take-on such a challenging task?

Reshma: This year, the date of the race coincides with the three year anniversary of the Syria Crisis. CARE International is running this marathon to raise awareness and funds for the plight of the more than 2.5 million refugees in the region and the more than 6.5 million people who remain displaced within Syria’s borders. As a lot of the media remains focused the on military clashes and the political efforts toward resolving this crisis, CARE urges the world to not forget the  humanitarian needs of more than ten million people. We want to raise awareness by putting a human face on this crisis and by showing our solidarity.  Our goal in running this marathon is to raise 50,000 US Dollars for the Syria Response in Jordan and Lebanon.

To accomplish such a great task, Reshma needs a great team to run with her from sea to sea to show solidarity for refugees in Syria. How will she do it?

Reshma: The CARE team consists of CARE staff working in Jordan, Lebanon and Kenya, as well as five Syrian refugees who themselves are volunteers in CARE’s urban refugee centres. In total, our international team consists of 10 members hailing from the USA, Portugal, Kenya, Germany, Jordan and Syria.  The Syrian refugees on the team are former engineers, teachers, graphic designers and students. They all volunteer with CARE to support and serve fellow Syrian refugees.

Yes, humanitarians do get the chance to creatively spread awareness about the increasing need to help people. But why did Reshma sign-up for the #Dead2Red marathon? Isn’t it a big risk?

Reshma: Having worked with refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab camps, and having heard their stories, you realize that any one of us could be a refugee. Could you imagine a life where you had to leave everything you knew behind, including all your possessions, community centres, possibly friends and family, job, everything. I am running for the refugees of the world, to show them that they are not alone.

Preparing for marathon from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea is not a cup of English tea! Reshma is honest to say that it has been tough, especially when it comes to physical training ahead of the event. However, quitting is not an option for this lady.

Reshma: …Running the marathon in itself is one of my biggest challenges! Those who know me know that I cannot run to save my life!  So trying to run more than 100 metres has been difficult, but I am happy to say that I can run 3000metres today without seriously huffing and puffing, so getting there! Also, I am always so busy, so trying to find time to run almost every day has been a challenge!

[But…] I keep pushing! I have to do this, not so much for me, but for the refugees! Keeping that in mind makes me go on!

On a lighter note, the life of a humanitarian comes with a variety of fun moments especially in cultural contexts. Here is an example where camel is involved.

Reshma: The inter-cultural communication – especially when you don’t speak the same language as the people you are helping, or your colleagues in another country! I remember the first time I was offered nyiri nyiri, dried camel meat – a delicacy in northern Kenya and Somalia….Everyone was looking at me expectantly for my approval, so even though I was not the biggest fan, I had to smile through this camel-fat filled aroma – not pleasant at all!

Aside from supporting CARE International in Kenya as a Knowledge Management Coordinator, Reshma happens to be a professional belly-dancer!

Reshma: Well many already know, but I LOVE to dance…….. I have been a belly dancer since I was young…dance is my way of connecting to the real me, carefree, like the wind!

Getting Involved

If you have been looking for a way to contribute to charity or just touch someone’s life out there amid the Syria crisis, Reshma invites you to join the cause and send a donation through this CARE International page.

For more about the Syrian Civil War, please click here.

Join the conversation on Facebook by following the hashtag #Dead2Red and see what the runners have been up to as they prepare for the marathon!

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If you have never met a real humanitarian warrior, you can now check that off your list having virtually met one!

“…I can do my best to make sure that I helped as many people as I could to empower themselves , for the improvement of their own lives, those of their families and communities.” ~Reshma Aziz Khan

‘Beautiful People’ ~ A new category on Diary of Ayuma

Today, I finally met an amazing pineapple vendor in Nairobi. His name is Jimmy. I had always spotted him and his wheelbarrow of sweet pineapples at a spot along a regular route I use on my way to work.

I rushed in the scorching sun just to purchase one of Jimmy’s mouth-watering pineapple slices. But I did not find him at his usual spot. When I asked the other vendors selling boiled maize and peanuts at the spot, they said that he usually leaves at 2pm.

Luckily, the vendors directed me to the Green Belt Movement headquarters which was established by Kenya’s late Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Mathaai who fought to protect the environment.

Jimmy’s pineapple slices are quite popular with the staff members at Green Belt but they did not chomp down all of the fruity slices. Phew!

I asked him how much one slice costs and he told me that a slice costs Ksh.20 which is about USD $0.23. He sold one to me but I had to have more. And so I told him to prepare a full pineapple for me and he told me that a full pineapple costs Ksh. 160 which is about USD $2.

Watching him peel the pineapple so carefully with different techniques, knives and in a sanitary environment displayed just how much Jimmy loved his job. He peeled the pineapple as if he were creating a piece of art… as a creative, I would boldly say that he was.

Jimmy wrapped the pineapple in a clear bag that made my mouth water even more. To protect others from some fruity temptation, he hid it in a black paper bag for me to carry home. I was so happy and I gladly paid him without bargaining which is a typical Nairobian behavior.

Later that afternoon, I spotted Jimmy with his wheelbarrow of pineapples at a parking lot of a popular church. He had pushed the wheelbarrow for quite a long distance from where I had left him. Somehow, I was filled with such pride to have met someone so driven, talented and strangely passionate about pineapples like Jimmy.

There are so many more amazing people out there just like Jimmy who never get the mention in the news, on the radio or in the many memes people share on social media. But these great people do exist. And it is such an honour for me to introduce these beautiful people doing great things everyday.

So if you are ever in the city of Nairobi in Kenya at a place called Adams Arcade, please give Jimmy a call through +254728040439 for a tropical splash of sweet pineapple for your enjoyment.

Great personalities like Jimmy are the inspiration behind my new blog category entitled ‘Beautiful People’.
Lookout for my first post as I reintroduce myself to you with the new format for all posts under the new category. Enjoy!

With Love,
Ayuma.

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