Harambee is a Swahili word that means “pull together”. It is Kenya’s national motto. There are times when their government should pay more attention to it. I want to tell you about my spontaneous Facebook Harambee experience this week.
Yesterday afternoon I saw a post on my Facebook News Feed from a friend in Kenya. Tobias Katete is the Beach Management Unit chairman in a small community on the shore of Lake Victoria, a little district that has become dear to my heart over the past few years through projects supported there by the CanAssist African Relief Trust.
Tobias reported a fire that had wiped out the home and all the belongings of a family that included a newborn infant in the remote rural village of Agok, Kenya. He appealed to locals to help find shelter for this family. His request for assistance was directed to people in his region and I wondered how many of them would have Internet access. This is perhaps a wrong assumption since I now correspond regularly with friends in Africa through email and Facebook and I notice that his Facebook friend list is 95% African faces.
I saw the post and wondered how I could help. At 3pm I shared it on my Facebook page asking my friends to either send me or promise $10 to help this family. Within 8 hours I had either collected or received an IOU for about $400. By midnight I had sent 25,000 Kenyan Shillings to Tobias who I trusted with the responsibility of seeing that this money will be appropriately used to help this family recover. Since I continue to receive notes promising support, this will be augmented in the next couple of days with another transfer. As I went to sleep last night I knew that this community would be waking up to the news that friends – strangers – in Canada have shown this compassion. Several of my African Facebook friends have also offered support to this family. It chokes me up when I think about this sharing of our humanity.
It is now not even 24 hours from the time I read the initial post. Your money has been transferred and received in Kenya and Tobias had purchased construction materials and delivered them to the family devastated by their loss. How cool is that?
I sincerely thank my friends for their response to this request. It is the best Christmas present that I could receive. Your generosity validates the work that I do in Africa and encourages me to keep it up, despite the many challenges. Just as I have witnessed Canada’s welcoming reception of Syrian refugees, it reinforces my belief that most of us have goodness and kindness in our hearts. Every day I become increasingly aware that we are, indeed, a global community, made ever closer by our ability to correspond and reach out across oceans and borders.
This has been a satisfying way to wind up 2015. Best wishes to all in the New Year.
(I have asked for only $10 from each person. As you can see, when we pull together – Harambee – this adds up to something significant. If you want to join us, the easiest way to send me $10 is by an Interac bank transfer or by PayPal. Message me for the correct email address to use for this. I promise that very cent will end up in Kenya to help this family recover from their misfortune. This is a personal gesture, not an official CanAssist one. CanAssist remains actively involved with community infrastructure development in this and other East African districts. You can read more about CanAssist here.)