Harambe = Togetherness

Fundraising is an event that happens all over the world; it takes different forms and is used for various reasons; and interestingly it is an event and thing that we, as Alpine Initiatives, have spent a lot of time recently thinking about. So it was very fitting for us to be involved in a couple in Meru, where they are given the Swahili term Harambe.  The first Harambe we attended was a unique experience as Lisa, my Mom, and I were with Karambu, so immediately we were marked as special guests and asked to sit up front. Of course it would have been rude to refuse so up we went and not only were we up front, but pretty much on stage looking out at the rest of the audience. I like how Lisa put it when she said " Well I guess this is one way to help get over the dislike of being stared at." Super amusing because as Mzungus (english speaker/white) we are always the focus of the peoples gaze and here we were, front and center on display. Today JP and I attended another Harambe in the Chugu village, the guest of honor, he who the money is raised for, needed a surgery for pancreatic cancer. Chugu came alive this afternoon as the forest intermixed with small farms was brushed by the brilliant bronze hues of the afternoon sun. We were honored as special guests and upon arrival, similar to most fuctions, served some mixture of rice, corn and beans along with a cup of chai. This was merely a start to the festivities as everyone was getting primed and ready. After thinking about it I realized that I have been to many different fundraisers around the world and realize that they all have one thing in common, there is either an auction or a raffle or both. The difference is the prizes that are presented for these events, and although very different, similar in a sense that the items are representative of the community. For example our raffle included many items like skis, goggles, outerwear, all things relating to the ski world because that is what we are a part of.  The touching part of this auction is that everyone in the community brought whatever they could afford to bring. Since many have little the items being auctioned included fruits and vegetables from peoples farms, chickens, bags of beans, and lots and lots of sugar cane. JP even made a comment to our friend Purity about the amount of sugar cane and she replied that's because of the drought and the peoples condition, therefore, this was all they could afford to donate. It is very interesting to witness, how among a very poor community, everything that was brought was then bought for some price during the auction, and I think they raised a fair amount of money for the guest of honor. JP and I partook and bought a few things. We got a large bag of Avocado and Papaya for 20 Kenyan Shillings, about $0.25, can you believe it? JP also got a chicken, which we named Little Nugget, to join the chicken, named Muffin (short for Egg McMuffin) I had bought at the first Harambe, who now both live at KACH.  The Harambe was a great experience as we experienced a part of the culture and were able to be part of the community we have grown to love so much. We cherish the activities and events like this as our relationships with the locals strengthen and we are continually invited into their lives.