The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Peace’

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.

🇰🇪❤

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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

 

 

Mambo Maasai Mara!

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I’ve always dreamed of the Maasai Mara. Experiencing the large expanse of natures glory and a beautiful culture that has made a mark even on the international scene.

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Pssst! Let me tell you a secret. My dream wedding proposal (before this post) had always been on a hot air balloon, during a sunrise over the glorious Mara. My future husband will now have to work with another creative plan which brings the drama which I love.

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So what led me to the Mara? Well, I travelled with my colleagues at the Amani Institute for a Design Thinking course. It was fun and I totally loved the fact that I got to experience camping for the very first time.

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If you’ve never done camping at the Mara, I highly recommend starting with the Oldarpoi Mara Camp. It’s an intimate eco-camp that economically empowers the local community and offers a rich cultural immersion into the Maasai community. We got to enjoy a beautiful musical performance by a local blacksmith who makes spears using inherited tools that are more than 100 years. Also, we got to ejnoy traditional dances by Maasai warriors.

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To be honest, I did enjoy my time at the Mara though I could not forget the choking sensation I got on my way to the Mara. I had seen a sea of plastic (PVC) paper bags on both sides of the road, stuck on shrubs and trees. Some were sweeping across the widespread land like tumbleweed. This was the only thing that I didn’t enjoy, particularly the pollution around shops.

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However, I was happy to know that there’s a new NGO in the area that’s working with the community to deal with waste management. They actually gather community members once a month to collect waste and dispose it correctly. I saw the impact within communities and it was a breath of fresh air.

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As we took a walk to meet community members, we met this old man who was tending to his goats and sheep. Ole Mutet is his name and we were informed that he educated his son using cows and now his boy has graduated from the University of Oregon in the US. He blessed us with a traditional Maasai story and it was awesome!

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We met groups of ladies selling traditional Maasai jewelry and the temptation was on the high. One in particular offered me a discount on a beaded bangle if I took a photo of her. It was a great ideal and so here she is!

Tip: Wearing a Maasai shuka (the material/blanket I am wearing in the photo above) is a sign of respect so grab one when headed for the Mara and wear it when interacting with community members.

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For four days, I got to enjoy this peaceful aboard away from the busy city. It was awesome and I plan to do ballooning at the Mara soon. At least for now I’ll soak in how amazing it was to wake up, eat, rest, dance and discover the Maasai Mara through this camping experience.

Enjoy the rest of the pics from my trip!

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Have you been to the Maasai Mara? I would love to know about your experience. If not, boy does a great adventure await you.

❤

Every moment in life counts

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A butterfly has got a lifespan of about 2weeks to 2months.

Still she floats in the air, flying joyfully and warming many hearts.
The fact that her life is too short doesn’t hinder her from capturing many people with her beauty.

She flaps her delicate wings, from flower to flower, blind to the uncertainty of another tomorrow. She lives in the now of today.

Every moment in life is precious and another chance to shine with all beauty that already exists in you.

Don’t let the pains, problems, or the unknown turn the beauty of your life into grey.

Racism

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Since time immemorial, the two main categories of skin-colour-themed racial groups that have been at war are the black and white race.

Honestly, I wonder which fool came up with this concept and which impish individuals believed it.

For years racism between the two has been a mix of  black grievance and white fear.

But what would drive human beings to this point where suddenly the colour of the skin determines a “better”, “wiser”, “more cultured”, “successful”, “stronger”, and even “more powerful” human being?
Absolute balderdash!

It is a lie from the devil and his evil grandmother!
I grew up impartial to racism; I didn’t give it any room in my life, brain or heart.

I can honestly say that from a young age, interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds, countries and continents, economic backgrounds and even with different colours of skin… has helped me develop a deeper appreciation for God’s unique design of the human being.

Character has always been my best judge for what makes a good person. Those who know me well already learnt from my sweet adventures and challenges in the dating and professional scene when it comes to race.

I don’t regret a thing because I stood for what I believed in!

There’s nothing like being colour blind. We cannot deny what our eyes see and have grown to know. Most of us just need to change our attitude and see beauty for what it really is. We do have a beautiful variety of skin colours. We can’t run away from it because we are all beautiful designs and shouldn’t be shy to talk about colour.

At the end of the day, there is only one race in my eyes and heart – THE HUMAN RACE.

My unborn children will grow up knowing this as a fact and not just a liberal philosophy.

Love,
Ayuma.

Kakamega Forest Community shares how to Fight Poaching in Kenya

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I always loved travelling to the village in Kakamega during school holidays when I was young. Of course, my family did not enjoy the luxury of spending vacation time in the best beach to bush holiday destinations or flying abroad. But I sure learned the value of visiting my family back in the village. From my community members, I learned about environmental stewardship long before I interacted with the term during an environmental class at the university.

Salome was my late grandfather's prayer tree and one of the trees in the beautiful Kakamega Forest

Salome was my late grandfather’s prayer tree and one of the trees in the beautiful Kakamega Forest

My late grandfather whom I loved to call “Kuka” spent majority of his youthful years in an army camp in Uganda during the World War. He had seen the face of war and I believe that it seemed like heaven when he retired to the tranquil Kakamega forest. Every Sunday morning before going for church service, Kuka requested that parents release their children for nature walks. I made sure that I walked close to him so that I could filter wisdom from his old and husky voice as he told stories and riddles about the forest. One in particular stays fresh in my mind about the forest baboons. Kuka said that if you pick a stone and try to hit a baboon, you start a war against yourself. He said that in his many years of interacting with the baboons, he has never witnessed a baboon fail to catch a stone. Kuka said, “The baboon will always catch the stone and hit you with it for a baboon never misses his target!” Looking back, I now realise that Kuka had been teaching us about environmental responsibility.

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During church service, I had expected the typical shouting during praise and worship and pastors enjoying celebrity life like in Nairobi. I was wrong!

Interestingly, church services in the village took-on a different format. Selected elders of the village would speak openly about some of their concerns about the village. The pastor would sit and listen to their wisdom. Some congregants would share their testimonies and thanksgiving. It seemed like it was one big family meeting where the forest somehow brought people together and closer to God. It was evident just how much the people loved the forest and even looked into the Bible for ways to be responsible about God’s creation.

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I remember the last church service I attended with Kuka, he was the guest speaker. He spoke about supporting women who often fetched firewood from the forest. They were often attacked by baboons and they too harmed the trees. Kuka requested that the church members get together and take supportive action in finding sustainable solutions. And they did, soon after the service under the leadership of their pastors. Teams were formed, tasks were assigned and action was taken throughout the week. Nobody just talked about ideas. These were often backed by conversations that sought solutions which led to a sense of ownership of the forest; our forest.

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It soon became clear to me that the forest was part of us and so we needed to protect it. This is why most of the community members assertively sought jobs from KWS as forest guards. They knew just how important it was to preserve the community’s philosophy alive when it comes to protecting the forest. Also, the community worked with legislators to ensure that industrialists don’t take advantage of areas near the forest. There are no big hotels near the forest to avoid exploitation and disturbing the peace in the forest. It only takes a mighty long drive to the Kakamega forest to realise just how real this is. In the long run, the forest remains a peaceful aboard for beautiful wild animals, trees that are over 500-years-old and a community with generations of wisdom on forest conservation.

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So why isn’t the same happening in Kenyan national parks where poaching has been gaining momentum?

I think it all goes back to understanding the role of environmental stewardship. Why? This is because it would take three environmental stewards working together to promote responsible use and protection of the natural environment. They are: (1) Doers (2) Donors and (3) Practitioners.

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Photo: MLD Family fund

 

Doers are the people who volunteer to support the cause by taking action. For example, doers in the Kenyan context would be citizens like myself who visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphan’s Project area to get informed and also adopt elephants. Through this project, doers get to support rescue and rehabilitation efforts for orphaned elephants and rhinos.

My friend Maureen touching an elephant for the very first time at the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage in Nairobi

My friend Maureen touching an elephant for the very first time at the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage in Nairobi

Donors are the financial backbone for various causes. Their approaches could be donating money and even holding fundraisers to create awareness and gather financial support for a cause. For example, the First Lady of Kenya on behalf of the government was the fundraising force behind an anti-poaching campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants” to support conservationists and protect elephants in Kenyan National parks.

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Practitioners are those who work on a day-to-day basis to gather support from scientists, governmental agencies, stakeholder groups and other groups to promote environmental stewardship outcome. For example, Dr. Paula Kahumbu and her team at WildlifeDirect who initiated the “Hands off our Elephants” campaign. They are a group of practitioners who tirelessly blow the trumpet about elephant poaching in Kenya and gather support from citizens, the government and other agencies for sustainable solutions to fighting poaching in Kenya.

Dr. Paula Kahumbu (left) who is WildlifeDirect's CEO and myself during the 2013 StoryMoja Hay Festival where she promoted the "Hands Off Our Elephants" campaign

Dr. Paula Kahumbu (left) who is WildlifeDirect’s CEO and myself during the 2013 StoryMoja Hay Festival where she promoted the “Hands Off Our Elephants” campaign

Together, these three groups of warriors form environmental stewards. The best thing is that anybody, even you, can become an environmental steward just by getting informed, being conversant about the environmental situation around you and carrying-on with a personal effort to reduce the likelihood of negatively impacting the environment.

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So what works at the Kakamega forest? Well, the three groups which make up a fierce environmental stewards team actively work together for the good of the community and the forest.
If the communities that live around the national parks are supported and educated about their role to protect wildlife and why they need to care about protecting them, then they would begin to take ownership of the wildlife. Too many of them live in poverty and feel abandoned in the process. This is why I believe they keep quiet when the poachers infest their land for a hunting spree. Some have also been facing human-wildlife conflict in their communities but with little or no effective support on how to combat the situation.

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What if the donors supported the communities with financial aid? What if the practitioners supported the communities with educational initiatives about environmental stewardship? What if one day the communities became doers and started community initiatives to defend their wildlife?

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This could be a reality if Kenyan people began to embrace a culture of environmental stewardship by sharing wisdom, staying informed and actively participating in environmental conservation initiatives.

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I believe that it can become a reality but it begins with believing that we as a nation can get there if we work together to our best capacity. If it works in Kakamega forest, it can surely work in our national parks. After all, they are all part of the beautiful Kenyan carpet of nature!

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Check out my photo gallery about my first trip to the David Sheldrick Orphans Project area, please click here.

For more about the poaching situation in Kenya, join the conversations on Facebook and Twitter!

Also, check out the “Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign” and even more on www.wildlifedirect.org

Learning to Wait

I had been wondering why my loquat tree hasn’t yet bloomed with tasty fruit like the other trees I saw on Monday as I walked home.

This was yet another revelation of human impatience that is often triggered by comparison.
But then I remembered that the other loquat trees had a mix of ripe fruit, raw fruit and others still in the process if blooming flowers.

Such is the case with my journey of life. It can’t always be harvest time 24/7.

There are some areas in my life where I am experiencing harvest season, some areas where I am experiencing a season of loss, some areas where I am experiencing a season of planting and yet some areas where I am experiencing the most difficult season of waiting.

Just like my loquat tree, I am experiencing a mix of seasons that don’t look appetizing from the outside. But with time and patience, the mixed seasons will expose that there had always been something great at work.

If you thought that God doesn’t reveal Himself to us through nature, think again. I learned about Him this week through observing my loquat tree.

I hope this tale encourages you to be patient regardless of the mess your life might look like at the moment.

God is at work in your life despite the mix of seasons. Just trust Him and He will not let you down.

Why compare your purpose with others’ lives? We are all uniquely destined in the eyes of God. Each tree has its unique moment within a season.

Today, I saw some flowers bloom on my loquat tree. Looks like it’s moment has come.

Love and Sunshine,
Ayuma.

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