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Motherhood and Jam Sandwiches

Motherhood and Jam Sandwiches

by Kate Holby April 28, 2022

On a recent trip to Kenya I met with old family friends in Nairobi. It was the first trip I had taken since having my son in July 2020. Mrs. Ambundo, who is 85 years old and a mother to four children, took me into her arms and said "welcome to the other side." She didn't mean welcome to  "the other side" of the world. She meant welcome to the world of motherhood. The war in Ukraine had just intensified, and Mrs. Ambundo kept repeating "Those poor people, those poor mothers, those poor children. Just imagine." And for the first time, I really could imagine. It is as if parenthood (or sleep deprivation or seven cups of tea) had dialed up my empathy.

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One for the Money, Two for the Show

One for the Money, Two for the Show

by Kate Holby April 26, 2022 1 Comment

The effects of climate change are being felt the most by women. It is women, after all, who are walking to the river to collect water. It is women who are providing the majority of agricultural labor in Kenya. Where are the voices of these women in the fight of environmental justice? Where are the voices of farmers? All we hear are the voices of companies and politicians and the insidious roar of Jeff Bezos's launch to space.

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Refute of Impersonal Professionalism

Refute of Impersonal Professionalism

by Kate Holby March 21, 2022 1 Comment

We often don’t discuss how we are a family-run organization. I work with my mother, Ann, and my sister, Sara, here in the U.S. Three times a week we have a group call with our colleagues, Regina and Difna, in Kenya. Given the time difference, these calls are early in the morning in the U.S. and toward the end of their day in Kenya. One of our own small children will often interrupt, demanding to being picked up. Regina will be on a matatu or public bus on the way home from work and you can often hear the sliding of the van door open and close. Difna’s neighbors own some remarkably loud and confused roosters. Needless to say, none of us have mastered the mute button. 

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Always A Bridesmaid Never A Bride

Always A Bridesmaid Never A Bride

by Kate Holby January 25, 2022 1 Comment

Sara and I have been finalists in five startup competitions, looking to raise capital for Ajiri Tea. Most of the time we are beat out by someone promising change driven by "cutting-edge" technology and huge growth projections. Employing women to handcraft the packaging, supporting small tea farmers, and sending orphans to school---why, there wasn't anything new about that.

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I'm Fine. You're Fine. We're All Fine. Okay?

I'm Fine. You're Fine. We're All Fine. Okay?

by Kate Holby November 12, 2021 1 Comment

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How to Cultivate Empathy from Afar

How to Cultivate Empathy from Afar

by Kate Holby September 16, 2021 2 Comments

As I think about how our community in Kenya is growing and we are growing in parallel a world away, my mind turns to all of you, our customers. Having not been to Kenya in two years, my work is no longer driven so much by the deep empathy for people I know. Rather, I am waking up and moving forward driven by this larger idea of a world that I want to know. This distance has made it harder to stay motivated. It has made it harder to package tea boxes and ship orders. But then I think of you.

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The Many Mothers of Ajiri Tea

The Many Mothers of Ajiri Tea

by Kate Holby May 03, 2021

Difna is the first to tell you that you don't have to be a "mom" to mother and you don't have to be family to act as a family. Our Ajiri scholars have taken to calling themselves part of the "Ajiri Family"--a testament to the love and devotion Regina and Difna show each child.

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In Peace of Wild Things

In Peace of Wild Things

by Kate Holby April 09, 2021

We're taking a scrap of optimism. We're not burdening it with the forethought of grief. We're cultivating it with every student we help to raise, every woman we employ, every box of tea we sell. 

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Women's Work

Women's Work

by Kate Holby March 09, 2021

We initially decided to employ women to craft the Ajiri Tea and Coffee packaging because women tend to reinvest over 90% of their earnings back into their families and communities. But we continue to employ women not for what they are doing with their money but rather for what they can't do without it. Women in Sub-Saharan Africa provide the majority of the agricultural labor, yet own anywhere from 1% to 13% of the land.

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How to refill your own cup of hope

How to refill your own cup of hope

by Kate Holby January 25, 2021

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Less Doing, More Brewing

Less Doing, More Brewing

by Kate Holby May 08, 2020

Hakuna matata! What "Kenyan Time" teaches us about quarantine time. How we deal with our anxieties to constantly be productive, and our shifting perceptions on what "productivity" actually means.

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Self-Care and Motherhood in Kenya

Self-Care and Motherhood in Kenya

by Kate Holby April 29, 2020

This term of self-care, as we have come to know it, isn't just reserved for bath bombs or face masks, but is an evolving idea that women can reclaim some time or some money for themselves. Perhaps we don't talk enough about the new clothes or the hair or their new cooking pot because it doesn't align within the common narrative of selfless motherhood and womanhood.

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