The best part about taking a field trip to a dairy farm? The opportunities for photoshoots. #canIhaveyourcamera? #ootd #look
Our primary focus at the Ajiri Foundation is working with our students to become the best citizen--the best "you" can be. Our second goal, of course, is to improve academic performance. When school fees are paid, uniforms are bought, food is on the table, and there is a stable presence of support, our students inevitably do better in school. But sometimes, they don't. Potential, of course, is harder to measure than test scores.
A few months ago one of our students was expelled from school for smoking marijuana. He is 16 and in tenth grade. His parents died over ten years ago. When he is not at boarding school, he lives with his 90-year-old sickly grandparents and his siblings in a rough part of town. We've been sponsoring him for almost eight years. He is kind, he is smart (though his grades don't reflect it), and he is a moody, struggling adolescent. In any other program, under any other scholarship, he would have been immediately expelled. But at Ajiri, no matter how hard it gets, we stick with you.
I'd like to write that there is a great redemption story and that this student is now thriving in school. But he isn't. The reality is much messier. But we're still sponsoring him, still supporting him, still working with him, with his family, and with his school to help him move forward. If there is anything that we'd like to impart to these scholars it is that setbacks don't have to define you, it is how you react to these setbacks that matters.
At Ajiri Tea we're packing up orders of tea one moment and dealing with adolescent issues the next. We're organizing microsavings groups for the women who craft the labels, we're organizing hiking trips for our scholars, we're launching new products, and we're just trying to be the "best" we can be. And, of course, we fall short.
A couple of months ago Ajiri Tea was a top five finalist for a grant sponsored by PepsiCo. We were in the running to win $100,000. We didn't win. We weren't the "best and the brightest" in the room. Our students, the women who craft the packaging, and employees were all rooting for Ajiri. Coming back to the community, we didn't face disappointment--we faced encouragement. We heard "you did your best" over and over again. Sometimes it takes awhile to become our "best" selves--the best "you" you can be. Sometimes it takes expulsion from school.
But wherever and however long it takes for our students to become the best they can be, we'll be there. Every step and misstep along the way. And we hope you will be too.
With love and lots of teenage angst these days,
Kate, Difna, Sara, Regina, Ann and Felix
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