You might remember the stories of my last trip to Kenya and how I was so fortunate to have met Joseph. Joseph and I connncted through the Hemingways and wound up sharing our stories daily on our drives to and from Kibera. To meet Joseph is to meet a pure soul. His heart is tremendous and you feel as if you could just talk for hours. We are going to do great work together in Kenya in the fall of 2015 and I wanted you to be able to get to know him as well.
Joseph grew up in Kitale which is located the Rift Valley in Kenya. From the stories Joseph has shared with me - his hometown is very rural. Like really rural..I hope to go and and experience it myself when I return to Kenya. I remember Joseph telling me he was one of NINE children! I couldn't believe it!!!! Joseph was the 5th born - he has seven sisters and a brother.
His parents are peasant farmers and as we can all imagine coming from a large family can have its challenges as you try providing for all. We would share stories about the work ethic we learned from our parents and I would tell Joseph how my father worked three jobs for most of life to provide. It was funny because he hadnt heard of stories like that from America...one of the illusions that all in America are rich. It is one of the great joys of doing trips like this and breaking down barriers - we all have so much to learn from each other.
But Joseph's story is one that shows determination and what life in rural communities in Kenya is like- Joseph was able to attend primary school and part of high school but had to leave in order to help his parents with the farm chores and also because they were unable to pay for the school fees. From my trips around the world- I hear these stories time and time again. But what amazes me is that more often than not these people are so determined, resilient, and exude love for their family and community.
What is so fabulous about Joseph is that his love of life and his entrepenuiral nature have never stopped him. He travelled to Nairobi to look for a greener pastures and first got a job in a flower farm and he did that for five years making ends meet and helpng to care for his family. For two years, he hired someone's car to do taxi business- as you can imagine with tourism there is the demand in the city. During that time- Joseph saved money and approached a bank for a car loan and he bought his own car to increase his reliability and have more control in growing business.
What you don't know reading this story is that Joseph is away from his own family as he is trying to provide. His wife and children live in the rural section and he sees them on weekend or every other week dependent on work. It makes you realize how lucky you are and how not to take anything for granted. I think back when I commuted to Stamford and I thought it was rough... yes- one of those times when you feel humbled.
I was so excited to hear that Joseph was going to start a small tour company. We spoke about how it would be great to do work together with the local grassroots projects that need funding and donations. You see - we both are two people with a passion to serve the world. Our backgrounds couldn't be more different but that is irrelevant because what is most important is that - I believe in Joseph and Joseph believes in City Chik.
We are excited to share with you our project over the next coming months...I assure you- your heart will be touched as you join us on this journey. Together...we can do great work!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!