Photo credit: @erinoutdoors
Twenty years ago, Zane Wilemon bought a one-way ticket to Kenya. It wasn’t long before he met his co-founder, Jeremiah Kuria, and the two started the Ubuntu Life Foundation. The core of their mission was to create opportunities that empower local communities. Together they created a center for children with disabilities, providing life-changing therapy and medical care for kids who suffer from physical challenges and social stigma.
The foundation has since blossomed into two separate entities. Ubuntu Life is focused on giving women in the community opportunities to work, own their own business, and the ability to support their families through designing and making textiles they sell on their online store. Ubuntu Life Foundation is focused on getting medical, education, and social needs for children with disabilities.
We have worked with Ubuntu for the past ten years. It started with a coffee sleeve made by the “maker mums” and has evolved into a wonderful partnership, supporting their work with special needs children through our yearly release of Café Ubuntu. With every dollar raised by Ubuntu Life Foundation, 91 cents is spent on direct impact programming. This year’s donation will go directly to help build Kenya’s leading special needs pediatric school.
This year has been particularly challenging for Ubuntu, testing their ability to pivot while continuing to empower women and children in their communities. Covid has greatly impacted the foundation’s ability to function as they normally would. In response to the pandemic, they quickly shifted gears and began providing food, water, and critical supplies to those who are in most need. They closed the special needs center, which normally functions as a school, to hold one-on-one appointments with students, giving them access to education and homework so they do not fall behind. And they turned their café into a staff grocery. Ubuntu employs almost 1,000 people in the community, when access to food became difficult, they leveraged their wholesale pricing on food and necessities to ensure the Ubuntu family was taken care of.
With every year, Ubuntu continues to grow and learn how to better help people in their community. We so proud to be a longstanding partner and to see how big of an impact our donation makes.