The Willoughby mum invites you to Africa where she and her family, including 6-year-old Harry, are changing the lives of children, women and grandmas. Here, she tells her story in her own words…
“To live in Willoughby and then visit a place like Kenya is incredibly humbling. Kenya is a magnificent country and we love it, but the poverty is overwhelming. It is simply luck that had us born in Sydney and not in a slum in Nairobi. These beautiful people with so much honour and pride only want the best for their loved ones – just like we do for ours. And yet they can’t manage to get them fresh water or a full belly each day. They are amazingly strong, positive people and we feel very privileged to have the chance to help make a difference to their lives.
We first became involved when my husband and his business partner were visiting South Africa for work. They were overwhelmed by the poverty and suffering that they witnessed. So we started a small feeding program in a slum school for children. This was 10 years ago. After seeing the difference it made to women and children, and feeling so inspired and humbled by their strength and positivity, we decided to start a business called One Horizon that offers others the chance to make a difference to people’s lives – and to experience their extraordinary stories for themselves.
People who are travelling to Africa from anywhere in the world are increasingly looking for a humanitarian element to their trip – and this is where One Horizon comes in. The same way you book an animal safari via a travel agent or online, you can book a humanitarian safari with us. Our travel experiences encourage you to leave a positive impact by interacting and connecting with the Kenyans you meet – and you choose how. You can book anything from a one- to eight-day tour, and combine it with an animal safari, or create your own unique experience. One Horizon offers heaps of opportunities for you to help forge change: you can read with homeless children, create traditional jewellery with Maasai women, herd cattle with Maasai tribesmen, help grandmas tend their new pig farms, support once desperate women in their start-up business ventures, join us on a Kenyan wildlife adventure, help us monitor the health of and feed abandoned babies and children, cook up a lunch and share stories with amazing women, or simply enjoy a ‘cuppa’ with an inspiring grandma. All the money generated from the tours goes straight back to the programs too, so we can keep developing them and improving them; not a cent is put into admin.
We’re proud to say we now have over 100 staff working over many projects across Nairobi. My husband’s business partner lives there and runs the operations. My six-year-old son Harry is also very involved. He was recently instrumental in organising a clothing and soccer boot drive on the North Shore in support of our African schools and refugees. People still contribute an unbelievably high standard of clothing and soccer boots each month.
Harry visited Kenya with us in 2016 and he will continue to come with us each year as we feel it is a very important and special opportunity for him from an early age. Watching him interact with the school kids and seeing him process how different these people’s lives are was one of the highlights of the trip. We went to one of the crèches where we run a feeding program for children. The program only started at this crèche that week so the children had all just had their very first hot meal. When we explained this to Harry you could see his brain working overtime trying to understand how that happens – how come he has food and they don’t? The minute we got home, life went back to normal, our fortunate normal, but every now and then I get a random comment from Harry like, “Hey Mummy, the kids in Kenya would love this, don’t you think?” And when he is in a quiet mood I’ll ask what he is thinking about and he’ll say “just Kenya”.
I’m really happy he’s aware there is more to community than just your local community. On that note, we’re hoping our local community will be encouraged to become involved too – there’s so much you can do. You can donate $40 to buy a pig for a grandma, or other similar donations click here. You can sponsor a child for $35 a month click here, or you can buy beautiful handmade Maasai jewellery that is made by women in our programs. I sell it at markets, through my local network, on the One Horizon website and on Etsy click here. And of course you can come on one of our tours! If you are heading to Africa on safari, to see the gorillas, visit family or on a work trip, we’d love to hear from you as a One Horizon experience might suit you as well.”
Visit onehorizon.net to see the itineraries available and the programs they run.