Ubuntu: I am because we are.
ONE Campus knows that as college students, you’re looking for ways to express yourselves on behalf of the causes and issues you’re passionate about. Ubuntu Foundation and their product line, Ubuntu Made, are doing their part to educate children and empower women in Kenya. Read more on how the foundation got started.
Ubuntu is a South African word meaning, “I am because we are.” It represents the interconnectedness among all people, and has been the core of the Ubuntu Foundation from the beginning.
When co-founders Zane and Jeremiah’s were getting started, their conversations centered around creating opportunities that empower the local community to help themselves. This seed eventually grew into the creation of several thriving programs in Maai Mahiu, under the name “Comfort the Children,” commonly known as CTC.
“We fumbled around trying to figure out how best to create those opportunities that empower people and many failed. Some weren’t truly empowering, some were too expensive, others started working but weren’t sustainable. The Malaika Kids was for sure an opportunity to empower these children, but it wasn’t going to last long term. We asked ourselves, ‘How do we do this in a way that’s something new, but we aren’t constantly asking people for money?’”
The answer was a fashion line, initially imagined to create jobs for mothers of the Malaika Kids. As students became empowered, their mothers asked if there was anything they could do themselves — and thus, Ubuntu Made was born. Today, those women have formed into a sisterhood revered in the community; women who provide for their families, purchase land, and venture into their own successful entrepreneurial efforts.
Now, for the past 15 years, Ubuntu has been centered around creating opportunities that empower communities to help themselves. The Foundation empowers more than 300 children through special needs education and medical care. The product line, Ubuntu Made, not only supports the foundation, but also provides meaningful jobs for families in the community.
At first, the moms of Ubuntu Made not only had trouble finding employment, but also didn’t know how to sew. Today, the line has grown from eight mothers learning how to sew to 40 full-time sewers and more than 100 full-time beaders. All of Ubuntu Made’s beadwork is done by women of the Maasai tribe, and Ubuntu’s sustainable jobs have created the largest group of organized Maasai beaders ever!
Families that participate in Ubuntu are empowered, confident, and accepted in their community. Some families have gone from barely being able to rent a mud hut, to owning land, and even becoming entrepreneurs in their own right.