The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Support’

Flag of All Flags!

Flag of all flags is love.

Flag of all flags is love.

FLAG OF ALL FLAGS: It’s heartbreaking to watch people fight on social media about something that should actually bring us together as humankind.
“Why haven’t you changed your profile picture to support France?” “Why haven’t you changed your profile picture to support Lebanon?” “Why haven’t you changed your profile picture to support Syrian refugees?” “Why haven’t you changed your profile picture to support…?”

If you’re like me, you might have already picked up on the real purpose of the virtual flags: Love for humanity.
But by choosing to isolate and attack each other because of Facebook flags, we’re choosing that which the terrorists are promoting? Fear, the mother of terrorism.

Fear makes us believe that we are more different than we are similar.
Fear makes us violent with our words, thoughts, intentions, and actions.
Fear makes us strip people of their power of choice.
Fear makes us foolish enough to be inhuman.

So whether or not you choose to use a Facebook flag, the biggest question we have to ask ourselves is, “So what next?”
So what next, after the terrorist attacks?
So what next, after we change our profile pictures?
So what next, after fear knocks at our doors?

Instead of fighting over Facebook flags, why not focus on what really matters? Sharing love with humanity.
How do we do this? It’s in the everyday simple things like smiling with a stranger. Sharing your meal with a homeless child. Offering a friend your shoulder to cry on. Affirming what’s good in someone instead of magnifying the faults.

As we start the new week, I encourage you to observe the world around you and spot opportunities in which you could directly respond to fear with love.
We are all superheroes if you think about it. We fight in the background with acts of courage that save the world from further decay.
This is how slowly, we get to change the world one act of love at a time.

Love & Sunshine

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Power of Opportunity!

Viola Davis delivering her speech at the 2015 Emmys.

Viola Davis delivering her speech at the 2015 Emmys.

Dear Reader,

So many things have inspired my life in the past few weeks that I actually struggled to package it in a way that I could easily share it with you. I want to share some of the sunshine I have been experiencing just the way you do the same for me. Yes, I enjoy sneaking into your blogs as well 🙂

Today, I found a way to share the sunshine with you and this amazing woman, Viola Davis, captured it in such a beautiful way. The message is clear and it’s all about the power of opportunity. The goodies in this world are for all of us and you too have the ability to break the barriers and achieve your dreams.

I challenge you to write your name here and read it to yourself in front of a mirror:

The only thing that separates  ___(your name)_____  from anyone else is opportunity. 

Speech by Viola Davis at the 2015 Emmys:

In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’

That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.

You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.

And to the Taraji P. Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union: Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you to the Television Academy. Thank you.

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Be Inspired!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2014!

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2014 – Pink Ribbon

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.

Support the ‘Girls’

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Florence (extreme left) with visitors who donated bras at the Seed of Hope center

Teenagers go through a lot and it is important for them to have a support system during this significant stage in development.

Girls go through feats of pain during breast enlargement, not forgetting the drama that comes with managing a menstrual cycle. (If only mother nature sent text messages instead…)

Boys go though an embarrassing phase as their voices break, but also a series of rapid body changes as they develop into men.

We all went through the bittersweet teen years and most of us would know just how important it was to have someone support us through the process.

Well, you can support the teens at the #SeedOfHope center in Dagoretti Corner, Nairobi by calling Florence who is the school principle via mobile:+254721405298.

Please #SupportTheGirls with donations of bras, under wears, sanitary towels and clothes.
Recently, kind visitors at the center donated some bras for the girls but not all of them received a fitting bra. It is very important to get the right bra size to avoid even more discomfort.

The center also supports teenage boys who are in need of donations of under wears and clothes as they rapidly develop into men. You are most welcome to #SupportTheBoys

I hope you like the hashtags (pun intended) ^_^

All these will help the teens to concentrate better in class and pursue their dreams without fearing the discomfort that often haunts developing teenagers.

Spread the love!

Spread the love ^_^

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

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