Let me introduce you to the concept of Harambee–the Kenyan tradition of all pulling together for a common cause. The first Prime Minister of Kenya adopted Harambee as the official motto of Kenya to encourage the community to work together for local projects. The African spirit is one of community, of caring, and of providing for each other rather than individuals facing the world alone. Impoverished Kenyans in disadvantaged areas may not have a lot, but they share what little they do have with each other to ease the burdens of life.
This year’s gala dinner is called the Spirit of Africa so that we can embrace the community spirit of working together for one cause. Umoja is Swahili for unity and togetherness and Harambee is at the core of what we do. During the last 3 years, the Umoja team have worked together with volunteers, supporters and the local Kenyan community to work towards achieving our goal of opening a children’s village. The last 12 months have seen a lot of progress towards this goal and there is definitely a lot to celebrate this year.
Even as I type this, the Umoja team, friends and sponsors are all pulling together to set-up and produce tomorrow night’s annual celebration. What makes Umoja so great is the teamwork and collaboration of individual efforts. Each individual supporter of Umoja has brought whatever they have, whether it is time, skills, goods, or money to help children and communities break the cycle of poverty. While we raise money at our gala dinner tomorrow night, Kenyan men and women are learning valuable farming and building skills on the other side of the world.
If you haven’t been to Kenya and haven’t experienced the poverty and hopelessness, it may be hard to understand how we can possibly make a difference to this problem. But we are, and we can; and we are doing it together. So thank you to everyone who is attending our gala dinner tomorrow night and to everyone who has contributed to our orphanage project in their own way during the last 12 months. Together we are achieving the extraordinary.