Most of my friends and family will remember my volunteer trip to Kenya in July 2013. But if you're not familiar with it, this has been my most memorable and impactful trip to date, as well as a stepping stone towards my upcoming trip. I was part of a group sponsored and hosted by the Whole Foods Market Team Member Volunteer Program, the Whole Planet Foundation and CTC International.
I had to pay for my vaccines and plane ticket and the company covered pretty much all the costs for two weeks in Kenya. Fundraising was encouraged, so I invented a Mirandathon in which I ran 26.2 miles barefoot on the beach over the course of a month and asked people to pledge money per mile or just make a donation. Honestly it wasn't terribly successful from a financial standpoint, but I was in great shape by the time I left for the trip. If I were to do it over, I would have something tangible in exchange for donations like vegan cupcakes or postcards made from photos from the trip.
Our group totaled 10 WFM employees from throughout the US ("And Canada!" - Lindsay) and I was a designated blogger and photographer for the trip. You can read the complete tumblr blog that I kept during the trip - which was a challenge because we rarely had internet access - and my favorite photos from Africa in the Pics section of my website.
To sum it up, we spent time meeting and interacting with microcredit clients throughout the country, visited other businesses making a positive impact in Kenya, had a short Safari which included interacting with protected rhinos in the park, met the Malaika mums who sew LIFE line products to support education for their disabled children, met a group of Massai artisan women and we spent the majority of the time working towards finishing Cafe Ubuntu, a bakery and coffee stop that would bring more money and jobs to the community. My fondest memories included seeing a trio of Cheetah brothers during our Safari, receiving a special gift to bless my home from one of the Maasai ladies and freehanding/painting the logo about 4 feet tall on the back wall of the bakery with nothing but a pencil and some oversized paint brushes.
Today, Cafe Ubuntu is thriving and expanding into a whole host of other projects and programs that are benefitting this little village in the Rift Valley. However, there are several more ways to support CTC & their mission closer to home by:
• becoming a donating Tribe Member
• buying a #loveisproject LOVE bracelet at American Eagle or LIFE line products
• and/or buying Allegro's Cafe Ubuntu coffee at your nearest Whole Foods Market.
It's a great cause to support because I can tell you firsthand that money is going directly into Maai Mahiu, whereas something like the (red) project is really nebulous and you're not sure how much money actually gets to Africa.