Since 2004, I have been traveling, living, working and volunteering in many parts of the world very different than my own. The first time I moved to a new country to live, learn and understand what life was like in a different part of the world was in 2008 when I moved to Northern Chile near the border of Bolivia. I worked teaching English as a Second Language, and my desire and enthusiasm to learn about the world was unleashed during this year. Being lost in translation, being out of the comforts of western society, and seeing real issues in the world didn’t scare me. It challenged me. Challenged me to see more, learn more, and do more.
In 2011, I volunteered around the world, spending 15 months learning from various NGO’s and non-profit organizations doing amazing work on the ground in Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, South Sudan, Uganda, India, and Indonesia. During this time, I gained a tremendous level of understanding about the hardships, the cultures and the people. It was about gaining an understanding that one cannot possibly have without actually standing on the same soil. An understanding I could not have without becoming a part of lives, hearing stories, or holding women and children in my arms from every country I spent time in. I spent time teaching women how to write their names- women who didn’t know how to read or write. Held babies in my arms who were infected with HIV, danced with children who had nothing but the smiles on their faces, worked in a country where human trafficking is rampant, absorbed and witnessed the staggering statistic of the number of children who aren’t in school, became family with people who live on less than $2 a day, and cried over the 2.5 million orphans in Uganda.
My year and half of learning on the ground was beautiful and hard. Beautiful in the fact that I have met more people and have been a part of more communities that have opened my eyes in so many ways, so many times. Times I didn’t even realize my eyes were shut. The hard part on the other hand, was what consumed my mind constantly when I returned. The poverty, the need for action, for solutions, for awareness, for education. I spent time learning, observing, and being part of communities so that I could come back to the United States with a better understanding of how I could be part of change in a positive and contributing way.
Upon my return in 2012, The Kikulu Foundation was founded with the help of an amazing team. A team who has also spent a tremendous amount of the their life learning about others. A team that truly believes in global citizenship. They've led teams and spent time in the education system in Africa, built schools in Nepal, and advocated for the rights of women and children to have access to quality education. All are heavily involved with the development of our work in Uganda and involved in supporting their community here at home. You can read more about this amazing group of people here. Without the dedication of our volunteers, team members, partners and supporters our vision of quality education for all would not be possible. No one person or organization can make change alone. It takes everyone working together.
" I embarked alone towards the goal and towards the dream. People joined along the way; and it became a caravan"
The word Kikulu means "It's Important" and our team believes supporting and being an advocate for education is one of the single most powerful and important actions one can take. I am so thankful to everyone who has joined us along the way and become a part of our caravan.
This is how we have begun, but hopefully only the mere introduction of our story. I hope that you are inspired to learn more and do more, and that you will join us in our endeavors to raise awareness, support education, and share stories.
The Kikulu Foundation