A Most Memorable Day: By Shila

This short story detailing Shila's most memorable day was typed and shared with you from her handwritten story (see images below). Shila, an Ajiri-sponsored student, is a senior in high school. She attends one of the best schools in the country. 

My most memorable moments are when I went for an adventurous tour in school. I was in form three then. Our class organised a tour to just clear up our minds and have fun and just bond with each other, just before we sat for our evaluation test. 

We woke up early that Thursday morning. I dressed into my warm pants and pullover. We had breakfast in school and boarded the bus. We were going away for a week. It was not far from school.

We reached a place with no shops, no houses around, no churches or schools in the vicinity, nothing only bushes and tall trees. Since the bus could not go any further, there was no path, we had to foot. We were divided into groups of ten students. I was put into a group of classmates I rarely talk to. We had to start talking by the time we went back to school.

Our teacher gave us direction and told us to walk in our groups until we reach a local school where we were to spend the night. Little did we know that we were going to go through thick and thin before we would reach the local school.

It was about 6 p.m. when we embarked on our journey. We walked past some thick bushes and walked on. After about a kilometre walk, we saw a little hut and thought to rest there. 

Suddenly, a dog came out of nowhere and chased us. One of my group mates who barely runs was almost eaten up by that hungry dog. We ran till we reached a place we had to climb down.

We could see lights below but the steep of the hill was very discouraging. It was almost as if it would take eternity to reach the school. Most of my group mates could not move even an inch because of their big bodies. We had to wait for them since the rules dictated that we should stick together.

We decided to sit and just slide down. Some crawled down the slope. It was hectic, yet fun. We found so many small animals but we hd no strength of even running away from them. We were exhausted. 

On the arrival at the local school, we found other groups already there. We joined in the kitchen and cooked inner. After all the groups had arrived, we ate and sat around the fire and told stories of our journey.

We laughed at each others stories of how they lost their way, or how they fell down or how they lost sight of each other. Later, each of us dropped asleep where we sat. 

One cup at a time.

One cup at a time.

People always ask Sara and myself “How did you start Ajiri Tea?” These types of questions, imbedded with curiosity, seem to imply that the starting of a company was the hard part. In reality, it wasn’t the starting of Ajiri Tea that was the hard part (though there certainty was and still are growing pains). No, it is the sticking with it that seems to be the challenge. It is the daily hustle, or as people in the coffee and tea call it, the daily grind. It is the questioning and reexamining if what you are doing is the right thing. The hard part is marketing your brand. Getting your name out there. Filling orders. Opening bank accounts in Kenya. Buying 30 pairs of shoes for the students and then buying 30 more pairs next year because they no longer fit. The hard part is wondering if you are doing enough. The hard part is measuring up to your own expectations.

Starting a company was easy because we didn’t have any expectations. We were young and didn’t know of the traditional business frameworks or even have a plan. We had an idea and we had drive, and we had a boundless sense of optimism (and we had a small loan). We didn’t know what we should do or what we could do. We just did. We asked questions, we found mentors. And that mentality—that nothing is impossible—starts to diminish as one get older and as the company starts to mature.

The challenge—the “hard part”—is holding onto that same sense of optimism. We tell our students that they can be whatever they want to be. That they are capable. That they are worthy of success. James, a recent Ajiri graduate, said four years ago that he wanted to become an engineer. James just applied to study engineering in university. Fanisha, a former Ajiri student, told us when she was 14 years old that she wanted to become a doctor. She is now entering her final year of medical school.

So when Sara and I have our doubts, when we are knee-deep in orders and the phone is doesn’t stop ringing, and we are only running on caffeine, we give ourselves that same pep-talk we give our students. And just look at what they have become!

Derrick.jpg

At least twice a year we like to gather all of our students and their guardians for a field day. This late August we gathered all 29 of our students to compete int the Ajiri Olympics! Our students joined different teams (Italy, India, Kenya, and the U.S.) to valiantly compete in the egg-on-a-spoon, three-legged race, and obstacle course. After games we played with a parachute and winded down with some lunch, and of course, a cup of tea. 

These field days are more than just a good time. They are a way for our students to interact and get to know one another. As all of our students go to different schools, these types of days are a chance to get together and feel part of the Ajiri community. We give awards to the best student and the most improved. 

Our students, many of whom have little family, have taken to calling themselves part of the "Ajiri Family." And that's what we are all about. Getting together, making friendships, and meeting year after year. In fact, many of our former continue to attend these field days.