Robin Williams said, "You are only given a little spark of madness, you musn't lose it." At Ajiri, we try and keep that madness, that silliness, that unafraid happiness alive. We wouldn't be in business without a small dose of madness. Because who, in their right mind, would give all profits away? We do because we are rooted in hope for the future and a healthy dose of humor for the present. These qualities--hope and humor--are seemingly innate to children. But somewhere along the way, this hope and humor and downright silliness gets lost.
This silliness gets lost early within our kids. Probably because they have to grow up a lot faster. We recently took our 19 oldest students to our own Ajiri summer camp. We didn't take them there to teach them independence; they've got enough of that already. We took them to camp to teach them how to be a child.
They traveled from their hometown of Kisii to an 800-acre farm in Nakuru where they stayed in tents, experienced the great outdoors, and learned how to use a computer (an odd blend, I know). The main focus of the camp was to get the kids on a computer. While children in Nairobi are playing with their iPhones and typing their papers, many of the kids had never touched a computer before. This was an effort to level the playing field.
They gravitated to the computer, learning to navigate the internet and even building their own Ajiri newspaper that you can read here. But they also gravitated toward each other. The first day at camp was silent. The last day at camp we couldn't keep them quiet as they stayed up all night whispering and laughing in their tents.
On our last night we went hunting for chameleons in the dark. You shine a flashlight in a bush and are able to see a glowing white reflection of a chameleon. Our kids walked in the dark, their arms linked together, trying to synchronize their steps while scanning the bushes and trees. Even in the dark, you could feel the energy radiating from our Ajiri scholars. There was a lightness about them, an unrestrained happiness.
With every box of tea purchased, and every donation, you are a part of this journey. Thank you for helping them to feel that magic of looking up at the stars, and the warmth of new friendships. Thank you for helping them to simply be a child.
With more tea boxes to sell and more summer camps to plan,
Kate, Dorothy, Sara, Regina, and Ann
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