100% of profits support orphan education in Kenya

Expelled from School: Tea and Teenagers

by Ajiri Online Orders January 14, 2020 1 Comment

Expelled from School: Tea and Teenagers

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 

Let's take a group photo! 1, 2, 3, don't smile.  #squad

Donate to the Ajiri Foundation 




Ajiri Online Orders
Ajiri Online Orders

Author


1 Response

Todd Zartman
Todd Zartman

April 02, 2020

First – thank you – for being honest and open. This story is inspiring and makes me want to support your efforts more and more. This is life and yes life is messy and full of ups and downs, but your efforts provide more ups.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

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.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

Earth Day: Ajiri is Committed to Sustainability
Earth Day: Ajiri is Committed to Sustainability

by Kate Holby April 16, 2020

This past month seemed to float by. We were worried about sales. Worried about the health of our community in Kenya (225 confirmed cases of CV19 in Kenya). We were trying to figure out the transition to teaching by cell phone (not even smartphone) to our Ajiri scholars. And we were worried about how we are going to continue to pay 60 women in rural Kenya when the flow of orders has trickled.

Those worries are all still there. But this past week, instead of swirling amidst the stress and skimming the news and refreshing our browsers, we started to be still.

Continue Reading →