10% for the Planet: Ahimsa Eco + Flying Kites =
Bringing Environmental + Social Together
Many years ago while backpacking around the world, I ended up in one of the most stunning countries on the planet: Kenya. While staying at a yoga retreat off the coast of Mombasa, I happened to meet two incredibly inspiring young women. I found out that they were volunteering with orphaned children living in the outskirts of Nairobi and promptly decided to go and spend a couple of days there, helping out. It was truly life-changing to work with some of the most beautiful children I had ever met, and it turned out to be an experience filled with heartbreak, gratitude, tears, and laughter. While there, I met Brian, a young boy who had been through loss and homelessness and, yet, was quite possibly the happiest child ever and had a smile that could melt icebergs (not that we need any more of that happening!).
L to R: Brian & buddies; Sweet little Mary striking a pose; Stef teaching the kids “Superman-asana”
Fast forward twelve years, and those two amazing women now have partnered with the local community to open a school in Kenya—Flying Kites Leadership Academy—with the aim of fundamentally changing the landscape of poverty in rural Kenya. The Flying Kites Leadership Academy (FKLA) serves vulnerable and critically-poor students, providing them with a holistic, nurturing environment that prioritizes not just world-class academic excellence but also creativity, critical thinking, and community service. They even have their own farm serving up wholesome, nutritious, brain-boosting farm-to-table meals to their students!
So here’s where we come in: Ahimsa Eco was founded on the principle of serving people and the planet first, always. We may be able to make a difference in cleaning up our planet, but if we do not empower and educate the next generation, we risk ending back up with the same problem that we started with. We know first hand that FKLA is making a massive difference in these children’s lives; in fact, Wes and I have personally been supporting them for years!
Here’s another way this initiative makes a massive impact on the entire planet. Many of us have recently heard about the loss of our last male white rhino, Sudan, and the very real possibility of the extinction of this majestic creature. We are losing entire species of animals and plants at an alarming rate (as many as 274 species going extinct every day), some of this due to deforestation and climate change, some due to poaching. Unfortunately, poaching happens in areas of the world where locals are subject to poverty and often do not have a better, alternate choice in order to put food on the table for their families. Listen to our conversation with FKLA Executive Director, Leila de Bruyne, as she addresses the issue of poaching in Kenya and how FKLA can help to address this by empowering the local children to have different options in life:
We decided to bring all of these initiatives together for a real whammy! FKLA is in the process of expanding their campus by building nine new classrooms and are looking to install solar panels. The new academic building—the Charles Wickham Academic Building—will allow Flying Kites to provide schooling for up to 200 students, and installing solar panels will help to lower their monthly operating budget, provide renewable energy and ensure that more funds go directly to supporting the students. This isn’t a cheap endeavor; solar panels in Kenya cost upwards of US$10,000. That’s why we will donate 10% of all net sales from April to June 2018 to FKLA. Do good for our planet and help provide high-quality, empowering education to these beautiful children; I can’t think of any better karma than that. Let’s make it happen, together!
Stef & Wes