My baby Tumiso has a love for wildlife. She’s the kind of child who gravitates so naturally to the National Geographic channel, and tells you all sorts of weird wildlife facts. She’s also the kind of child who would much rather you buy her an animal encyclopedia, than a new game.
So it came as no surprise when she said she wanted to have a Safari themed birthday party.
For me the fun was as much in the planning as it was in the actual event; from the animal themed slumber party with 10 of her friends, to the early morning game drive the following day, to cutting a safari themed cake in the National Park, just a few meters from zebra and deer.
Simply put, it was amazing! But little did we know we were on the verge of a whole new life changing experience.
Let me explain… on getting home after our beautiful thematic party, I overheard the kids talking about how sad it was that there were animals on the verge of extinction. They couldn’t believe that there was a possibility that their own kids may not get the opportunity to see some wildlife species such as the Northern White Rhino, and if we were not careful, the elephant too!
I could hear the anger in their voices as they lamented about baby animals being left motherless as a result of poaching. Then, all of a sudden, little Miss Tumiso stood up and said, “I know what we will do! We will form a wildlife club and save all the animals! Our club will be soooo big it will be international!”
My first reaction to this was a silent, empathetic side nod, which gave away how I really felt; I wanted to encourage my child to follow her dreams, but somewhere deep inside I felt that this would not go too far. I mean…international? A little over the top, wouldn’t you say?
And that’s when it hit me; was it possible, that I’d forgotten how to dream? Was it possible that I’d been let down so many times, that I was unknowingly attempting to “shield” my child from exploring her dreams for fear of failure?
And just in that instant, my paradigm shifted. Looking at how passionately my daughter talked about her club, and all the great things it was going to do, I realized one fundamental thing; that the student had become the teacher.
I followed her lead. I tapped into her fresh positive energy, and amazing things began to happen. The WILDLIFE SAVERS CLUB hatched a plan to raise funds to adopt baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. A handful of kids and I began a series of after-school meetings to discuss club colors, t-shirt designs, fundraising tactics and a whole lot of other things that took me way out of my comfort zone
For a good 3 weeks, the kids poured their hearts into it. They asked everyone and anyone for sponsorship. All along as people would ask – “So, is this a school thing?” and would always look pleasantly surprised whenever I’d say “the Wildlife Savers Club was born in my living room and no, it was not my idea, it was theirs.”
To crown all the fundraising efforts, we held a 5km walk at the Karura Forest. The turn out was absolutely amazing! I’m extremely proud of these kids, because within 3 weeks, they managed to raise Kshs50,000, all of which shall be used to adopt baby elephants orphaned as a result of poaching.
And in the words of Tumiso herself, “Na bado! They will know us in China!!!”
I think life sometimes throws us such hard blows, that we forget how to dream, and try to guide our kids into “realistic ambitions”.
What if we encouraged those wild imaginative dreams? What if we put aside our own disappointments, and tapped into their fresh untainted energy? What if we encouraged them to take ownership of their country and begin to be part of the change that we all desire?
I’ll tell you the answer to that; we’d have a generation of fearless leaders and influencers that will ultimately bring our beautiful country into a whole new level internationally.
Mama T signing out, and wishing you all love and light and +vity!