The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Travel’

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.

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Share your ideas: Don’t get too attached!

Sharing ideas attracts opportunities.

Sharing ideas attracts opportunities.

Truth be told, I was almost giving up on my innovation idea due to a number of failures I experienced on the way. It seemed as if not many believed in the vision I had and the gift it could be for young people in modern Kenya but still, I shared my idea.

Last week, I received a call from a journalist at Reuters Africa who wanted to know more about my innovation. With every question he asked and answer I gave, the doubts I had got cleared.

What really amazed me was how he received my contact details from the very first venue & coffee sponsor who believed in my idea. His name is Pete Owiti, founder and owner of Pete’s Cafe & Burrito Haven. He had humble beginnings and represented Kenya well in the world coffee barrister championships where he is acknowledged as a champion. Despite his great achievements, he believed in my small beginnings.
The young journalist is also a Kenyan coffee lover and it’s just so beautiful how these amazing people believed in my little idea. All I had/have is my story and it was incredibly enough.

So don’t get too attached to how your idea is supposed to happen. Instead, share your idea and stay committed to the change you want to see in the long run. You just never know who might be listening and slowly believing in it. Lots of people out there believe in your idea, you just have to help them realise it by telling them about it. Take a tiny step if you must but never give up!

Love & Sunshine

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.

Breakfast Club for coffee-lovers in Nairobi!

Breakfast Club for young coffee-loving Entrepreneurs in Nairobi. / Kahawa Culture 2015.

Breakfast Club for young coffee-loving Entrepreneurs in Nairobi / Kahawa Culture 2015

Are you a young coffee lover in Nairobi looking for a coffee community of fun, like-minded and interesting humans like yourself?

This is your chance to join a new Breakfast Club in town that connects young entrepreneurs through inspiring organic interactions and the love of coffee.

We welcome you to join us for the Kahawa Culture Breakfast Club Launch on 25th March 2015 at Nairobi Garage (Piedmont Plaza, Ngong Rd) from 7am to 8.30am. This is a great opportunity to enrich your networks while enjoying your favourite beverage in the world – coffee!

Only 50 spots are available so be sure to book your Eventbrite ticket then re-confirm your attendance via kahawaculture@gmail.com before your spot is gone.

Food and beverages will be available at the venue.

Note: The event programme will begin at 7am sharp.

Can’t wait to meet you and share a kahawa with you…

People. Coffee. Community.

Coffee Culture in Kenya!

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Kenyan Coffee Berries - AA Arabica

Coffee culture is simply any social atmosphere that heavily depends upon coffee. It goes beyond coffee as a product and uses it as a social lubricant to bring people together for a purpose.

Growing Coffee Culture

In one decade, Kenya has experienced a fast-growing coffee culture as coffee houses like Nairobi Java House, Art Café, Pete’s Cafe & Burrito Haven, Savannah and Dormans continue to provide exceptional coffee experiences at various urban centers in the country, mainly Nairobi.

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Coffee House in Kenya - Pete's Café & Burrito Haven

Truly, we have come from far as a nation because decades ago, one could only experience coffee at high-end hotels like the Sarova Stanley hotel which was an exclusive atmosphere for the wealthy in Kenya. Today, the Kenyan middle class is the popular coffee consumer marking a remarkable market shift!

Celebrating our Own

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Coffee Workshop by Kenyan Coffee Barista - Photo by Ethan Mumo

Today, Kenyans have so many opportunities to learn about coffee better yet, from our very own champion barristers who compete at the global coffee barristers’ competitions. They inspire and edify the public about Kenyan coffee and the great need to celebrate the world-class coffee that our country produces.

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Peter Owiti explains the qualities of Kenyan Dark Roast Coffee Beans. Photo by Ethan Mumo.

One shining example is Peter Owiti (Founder, Pete’s Coffee & Burrito Haven) who is a popular amongst the Nairobi techie community. He is a Seattle-trained coffee barrister who after working at Nairobi Java House and his educational travels in America and Europe chose to further pursue his passion for coffee through entrepreneurship.

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Pete's Café started at iHub

On 26th November 2012, he launched his business as an in-house coffee shop at iHub. His business has since expanded and is also now an in-house coffee shop at the Nairobi Garage and Airtel HQ in Nairobi.

Kahawa Culture Meet-up

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Kahawa Culture Meetup for youth networking

On Saturday 13th December 2014, Pete and I partnered for an event called Kahawa Culture Meet-up where we invited young Nairobians between the ages of 16-35 years for a fun afternoon of positive conversations over coffee at Pete’s coffee shop (at Bishop Magua building). About 25 young middle-class Nairobians got the chance to learn from young Kenyan YouTube personalities about how to share one’s passions and earn money through YouTube channels.

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Ken Mwatha - Kenyan YouTube Personality (IWATCHSTUFF). Photo by Ethan Mumo.

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Oliver Holding - Kenyan YouTube personality (GAMING4KENYA). Photo by Ethan Mumo

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James Karanu - Kenyan YouTube Personality (AXCESS). Photo by Ethan Mumo.

Also, Peter Owiti conducted a mini coffee workshop about the qualities of Kenyan coffee, how to make French Press coffee and how to make excellent coffee at home without using an Espresso machine.

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Mini coffee workshop by Peter Owiti.

Event attendees got the chance to give-back by sending love-filled messages to and making donations of toiletries, colours and colouring books for the kids at the learning centre at the Kenyatta National Hospital Children’s Ward.

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Sending some love to the Kenyatta National Hospital Children's Ward. Photo by Ethan Mumo.

The donations were collected by Colour My World which is a charity initiative that works closely with the kids, accounts for donations and ensure that the donations reach the children.

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Liz Njenga - Founder, Colour My World. Photo by Ethan Mumo.

Speed networking was also a highlight at the event as we witnessed strangers becoming friends. We hope that our next event on January 17th, 2015 will be yet another opportunity to celebrate Kenyan coffee culture through meaningful conversations that inspire patriotism and positive change amongst young people.

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Speed networking at Kahawa Culture Meet-up. Photo by Ethan Mumo.

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Positive conversations over coffee. Photo by Ethan Mumo.

This is the objective of Kahawa Culture, a startup events company that I recently launched to promote positive conversations over coffee in Nairobi.

Kenyan Coffee Facts:

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Expert ranking of coffee growing countries in the world. Photo by Thrillist.

1. Global coffee experts rank Kenya as #2 best coffee growing in the world! Kenya comes in second after Ethiopia. Colombia is ranked #3 coffee growing country in the world.

2. Coffee is mainly grown in Nyeri County in Kenya. The area is mountainous and has got rich volcanic soils.

3. The excellent coffee that Kenya produces is of the AA Arabica coffee variety.

4. Kahawa is the Swahili word for coffee. So when in Kenya…

5. Kenya is one of the countries in the Coffee Bean Belt which runs from Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Java.

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For the love of Kenya Coffee

Contact Info:

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Follow Pete's Cafe & Burrito Haven on Facebook and Twitter (@petescoffee).

Peter Owiti
Pete’s Café & Burrito Haven
Email: pete@petescoffee.co.ke
(Coffee Shops & Setup, Coffee Consulting and Barista Training)

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Ayuma Michelle
Kahawa Culture Ltd.
Email: kahawaculture@gmail.com
YouTube Channel: KAHAWA CULTURE
(Kahawa Culture Meet-ups, partnership opportunities and presentation slots)

Before leaving earth, ensure that you’ve experienced Kenyan coffee! ^_^

Kiss Nairobi address problems goodbye!

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If you have lived in Nairobi, even for a short while, then you might have noticed just how difficult it can be to find physical addresses to places you want to be or where people could find you.

Specialized hospitals during medical emergencies. Office headquarters in case of a job interview. Home addresses for food or product deliveries. Even worse, not knowing your friend’s wedding location or where the party is at!

To be honest, Google Maps and Navigator Apps are good but unfortunately, they do lack the value of upgraded physical locations. A friend and I once got lost in Westlands looking for a place that was only about 200 meters away but hadn’t been upgraded on Google Maps or Navigator Apps. We drove in circles like headless chickens. Haha!

But all is not lost because I struck gold with the OkHi App which allows me to accurately describe and share my physical address so that someone won’t get lost as they try to locate my home, office or where I could be hosting an event.

What is more, the team behind OkHi is Nairobi-based and so they’ve got a better understanding of the address challenges faced in Kenya, hence, more effective physical address solutions.

What is OkHi?
OkHi is a technology startup based in Nairobi, Kenya that is solving the lack of physical address system here and beyond.

Did You Know?
The greatest challenge facing the current physical address system in Kenya isn’t that it doesn’t work but that it fundamentally doesn’t exist.
Majority of homes do not have a name or number, rarely have a street name and definitely no national level post or zip code.

This leads to major social and economic issues that are throttling growth in Kenya.

Fortunately, the OkHi team is working tirelessly to ensure that Kenya is not lost when it comes to enjoying opportunities that come with improved access to accurate physical addresses.

Click here for more about OkHi!

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

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