Where did your interest in philanthropy spring from?
My husband and I both came from very humble beginnings. Philanthropy was somewhat of a foreign concept to us. It’s a word that has been synonymous with wealth. What we learned by working with Moja Tu is that philanthropy is not just about money, it’s about so much more. It’s about time and empathy. To give your time and your heart is the richest thing that anyone can do regardless of income level.
Why is it important to you to help students in Kenya?
As college graduates, we value the importance of education and we stress that importance with our children. Once we understood the lack of opportunity for education in Kenya, we knew that we could influence that. We wanted our children to also gain an awareness of how education can be the barrier or the entry to so many opportunities in life. The connection between the Kenyan students and our children built a bridge and a bond that will never be broken. There’s a deeper meaning in that for us as African-Americans, to be able to connect our African heritage with the African homeland.
What sort of interactions do you have with your students?
Admittingly, in the pandemic, it has been difficult for us to balance day-to-day life with our sons being homeschooled, while working. The letters and cards that we receive are like gifts and they mean so much to us. We miss our calls with them to see them and talk to them and as soon as the world reopens, it’s the first flight we will be taking. We miss their smiles, their hugs and the long talks.
How has sponsoring a student transformed your life?
The gratitude that these children have shown us is immeasurable. When we think about transforming a life, it goes well beyond sponsorship. It goes to the heart of what life is about. As Americans, we take so much for granted, that simple tasks like washing dishes used to be daunting and annoying. Now we are grateful for the ability to turn on running clean water. Our children are thankful for schools with access to various sports, activities and options. It has deepened our relationship with our children to invest in their education so that they can continue to do the type of work we are doing with the Kenyan students. Our boys see the world differently and they have realized that life is a gift. The commitment to our students is a non-negotiable of financial obligation to make sure that we can continue to give them a chance at life.
What does our mission of education for all mean to you?
We tell our sons all the time that no matter what happens in life, they will always be learning. Everything is education and education is everything. If we can influence or change the opportunity for education for one, we can impact the world. We know that our students are capable of changing their community, their family and their world. This mission to educate our students will have an impact on generations to come and that means more to us than anything. No one can take away knowledge and that has been shown throughout time. The power of education breeds creativity, empathy and acceptance. With Moja Tu, we have a way to impact that.
What is it about Moja Tu that you think makes it unique?
The direct connection between the sponsor and the student. Oftentimes, we give to organizations and we don’t really know where the money is going. It’s human to want to help but it’s a different thing to be able to see and talk to the help you are giving. The letters are from their hearts and not from a random generated amount of content. Being able to visit our students, talk to them and encourage them is what makes it real. That gives it a feeling that’s deeper than just writing a check.
What would you like people to know about our organization?
I would want people to know that anyone can be a sponsor. The return on the investment of a child’s education will live on for generations and that’s powerful. The fulfillment goes beyond your wildest expectations and gets down into the core of humanity. The love these children have will remind you that it’s not about how much money you gave but it’s about the everlasting power you are giving to someone by giving them an education. Without it, future nurses, future tour guides and more would have been reduced to beggars.