Happy 2019 to everyone!
I am very happy to say I am writing this from Nairobi, Kenya in 28 degrees in a co-working space full of young, smart people who are all working to change East Africa for the better. Well, with that going on all around me how can I not be inspired and motivated to get back to writing?!
Last year was tough in many ways and after talking to friends from around the world I feel it was the same for them too. This, I think is down to our perceived perceptions of what we thought would happen and what actually happened. One of the hardest things is to stay focused on a goal when there seems to be so much going wrong and lots of media saying the same. In these times you have to really dig deep and keep going, look for positive stories and connect only with those who support you and your ideas and have similar outlooks on life.
The end of 2018 saw me on my travels again as I went to Prague and Berlin with a friend from my Tanzania days who is now studying in Europe. We even managed to squeeze a visit to our other friends from Tanzania based in northern Germany. This was the perfect way to end the year by visiting places we had never been, learning about food and culture and staying in hostels to meet lots of new fascinating people. On Christmas day we played a game of Dobble (crosses languages, ages and cultures!) with 9 people all from different parts of the world! We saw the horrific events of the Nazi occupation at the museum of Terror and the Berlin wall with all its hopeful graffiti on and managed a Christmas market to bring back my memories of Christmases in Germany as a young girl. Being around all these people and my friends made me realise I had actually done a lot that year and traveled to many places…thankfully FaceBook reminds you in its yearly wrap up 🙂
One of the main goals for me was to get a job in Kenya and get my social enterprise up and running. The job search was tough and at times I felt like giving up…If only street smarts and experience equaled qualifications I felt I was being overlooked as I don’t have a Masters or PHD but I had run my own business in London for 8 years and lived in East Africa for 5, learning the language and culture but was feeling it was not enough. I decided to focus my energy on the social enterprise and entered the African Entrepreneurship Award and we got through to the 3rd round! It was amazing verification that the mentors in Kenya that looked over our business proposal liked it and saw potential! Unfortunately we didn’t make it much further but that is because we don’t have a working gym to show..yet. I know have the logo, designed by my amazing school friend now graphic designer, and some social media.
One of the things I started to keep me positive and focused was to write a daily ‘gratitude diary’ which I heard Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Lopez do…so can’t be a bad thing seeing their successes! You write 5 things down every day that you are grateful for, as small as someone being extra helpful to your family support system. This and daily gym sessions laid the foundation to keep coming back to the laptop in the afternoons to job hunt, connect with contacts I had made over the past 5 years and work on the social enterprise. Everything happens for a reason as they say and I believe and this time my family needed me around so I very much felt this. It have me a chance to help them out and spend quality time together knowing I may never live in the UK again if things go to plan. Low and behold at the end of the year I got offered a paid 6 month fellowship for an education technology start up in Nairobi! It was not what I was exactly looking for but I believe sometimes you have to come down the ladder you are on to be able to start at the bottom and climb a higher one. It gave me an opportunity to discover this new world and how start ups work. I presented at Nairobi Tech Week in my 1st week to a room of 50 motivated tech professionals looking to help education in Africa. I networked with active and exciting people which reignited my passion for education and belief that Kenya is the place to be for start ups. Everything is possible here and people are willing to help and connect you. With this in mind I got a new permanent job offer which starts next week! All of the hard work, networking and casting nets had finally caught me a big fish which I can finally feel excited about…more about this next time!
I am now living with an inspiring Kenyan lady who has also recently returned home after many years away and is starting many exciting new projects with fashion, community engagement and child sponsorship..as well as a new commitment to exercise every day…so what a perfect match! I have already signed us both up for the Beyond Zero half marathon next month 🙂
I am very excited to see what is next and learned that you must always put it out there with what you want as someone, somewhere will be listening and you will get there in the end! Never Give Up!! Always ask for help and keep casting those nets!