2017 was the year for me to try and be somehow completely on my own. No close friends, no family or relatives traveling or being with me. Just me with a booked flight ticket to Kenya and a booked room for up to 4 months. It was exciting and adventurous for me.
Honestly I did not think that much about it. Sometimes you just have that gut feeling where something just feels right. And this time the feeling turned out to be right.
My friends say that I am spontaneous, impulsive and a “do-er” when I get ideas. This is also true, but my decision to move to Kenya had been building up in me for many years. Here is how:
I come from a good and well-established family, with two sister (one big and one little) while having my mother and father raising me. We grew up in a good area of Denmark with good schools, activities for children and opportunities to do explore the world of crazy ideas, which all young boys and girls gets. Growing up where you always have food on the table and being able of having food 3, 4 or 5 times a day, quickly becomes the norm. This is how it should be. And as a boy you don’t know that people in other countries doesn’t have the same opportunities and life as you do. I realized that growing up, when I started studying and started exploring different countries and cultures.
When you grow up like this, meaning your social construction you create of the world, the value of e.g. money is just different than if you grew up in e.g. Kenya. If you don’t have to fight and consciously handle your finances cleverly, you will at some point adapt a different mindset towards the value of money. Likewise if you can buy what you want to eat, the value of “free pizza buffet”-events just isn’t that attractive.
Growing up where you never needed to save or limit your intake of the food on the table, for the food to last longer, you will be more prone of developing a distaste for some foods. You get picky.
The is a luxury “problem”, which is just inherently when food is not a scarcity.
I’m of that understanding that I think it’s “healthy” for the body and mind, not being allowed instant satisfaction and instant gratification constantly, whenever you “feel” the need for eating or drinking something. I think it’s healthy to practice your skills of restraining something, it gives you an improved inner will power of “I am in control”.
Anyways this is just to state the point, that my childhood and life has been of a total difference to, what a fellow Kenyan grew up with.
In my opinion it leaves you with two different perspectives being created in the brain and the perception of life, people and understanding of what is normal. It further also determines your identity.
1 You understand that you have been blessed with life, the opportunities and the absence of seriously life-threatening issues.
2 You naively think that this is just how life and the world is and this is just how it will always be.
I was left with the first perception of life.
Thus I have just always had that understanding that where ever we can help, we should help. I really doesn’t try to illustrate me as any great helper, not at all. But when matters have been and I have had the option, I would always see the benefits of helping another human being outweighing the downsides of what I could “loose”.
So when I finished my studies and I got my Masters Degree in Sports Sciences (as the photo below show) I was taking time to think about what I wanted to achieve and do in life. More likely what I wanted my life to look like.
It’s really a big question.
Think about it. What impression and impact do you want to leave on mother earth in the short life-span that you live? Honestly everybody should sit down alone and ask themselves once a year, what impact and life they are living right now. If it’s fine, then keep on going bro. If not, you need to make the change and not waiting for it.
Anyways shortly after I got my degree I got an opportunity that I couldn’t say no to.
I got a job offer from Copenhagen Business School. It’s one of those offer you just need to say yes to. I was appointed to make sure a science group (meaning 5 scientists) would collaborate effectively and not counter-work each other.
I was pretty confident that this was going to be a great start in my business life and thus I invested all my time in performing as well as possible. Meaning some days it was literally from 06 am to midnight. You can of course work + 12, 14 or 16 hours some days, but in the long run you burn out mentally and start suffering. I tried it all. But it was part of my development, so I was positive and dedicated.
When it became the 23rd of December, we went on Christmas holiday. And then I realized that I had not given it one single thought that “Christmas was coming”. No Christmas shopping, no Christmas mood or anything. It was kind of weird, because in Denmark we are pretty good at promoting Christmas, starting at in November.
When I came home to my family the 23rd December, I finally had some time of work and not having constant thought about work. It finally gave time to breath out and then think “creatively” where the ideas and thought just comes to you.
My thoughts were: Is my life “just” going to be a working life?
So starting already now, I would then spend the rest of my life climbing the latter’s in the business life. Striving to achieve more, perform better and earn more. It really didn’t resonate well in my mind.
The way our society is developing I’m pretty sure we will be able and also have to work until we are at least 75 years old, maybe even 80. At that time we might be able to retire from our working life and start the “pension-life”.
So I kind of new my selves well enough to know, that of course I want to achieve something and I want to dedicate me and my time in creating something that will bring value and something than I can be proud of.
So I was being realistic and knowing that my career life might be able of taking speed fast, meaning that I would most likely work a lot, so I should probably actively do something now, where the time is “best” because I am not settled down and have attachments.
So my path of interest was getting kind of clear, thus I set my self to research the internet for foreign aid, volunteering work projects abroad etc. and I came across a lot of projects in Africa and Asia.
But the money for it… It cost so much money for you to go and volunteer and working for free actually means than in 1, 2 or 3 months you could easily spend 6-8000 USD. I thought that was mind breaking and horrible.
I actually one night made a business case for one of my friends saying, that we could do it better and (potentially) out-compete some of the companies, who made it so expensive to volunteer.
I started talking to my friends about it and I got a lot of good advices and knowledge from them.
So one talk led to another and opportunities opened. People like to recommend where they can help. One of the best references was for a Danish NGO in Middelfart, who had been operating in Kenya for years.
I liked this NGO and the people behind it instantly because of two things.
1) They have a big heart. Really. And they give from themselves to benefit others. I love humanity like this.
2) Things can be done. We instantly talk solutions, ideas and what can happen. Instead of people or companies looking in obstacles and problems – I really hate that.
I then met with Kis and Flemming for a very very brief talk. My mind was totally somewhere else because I still had work at the Business School, but they still invited me to come back 3-4 days later, where I could meet Patrick Amalemba. Another great man, who I respect and who just have that integrity you MUST have when dealing with work between e.g. Kenya and a Danish NGO. It was a fine talk, where I didn’t prepare anything and as usually I just met up and went for it.
They were “of course” open for ideas regarding Cheptigit, the school, the Cheptigit sports facilities etc.
But that was it. We didn’t agree on anything. No promises made, no liability for me or anything and I liked that.
So two days after I was just like, “well, I’ll find out something. And if not, I can just book a flight ticket home. So nothing planned, not knowing anything about the people, the culture, the school, the language and the country – so everything will come as a pleasant surprise :)
10 days later I took this photo below of me in the airport, ready to take the flight towards Nairobi.
In the next blog post I’ll write about what came next in my wonderful Kenya adventure :)