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morning of hope

4:15 in the morning…can’t sleep.  thoughts racing about the previous days activities.  yesterday we spent the day in maai mahiu, kenya touring our site and catching up with our staff.  we spent the majority of our time meeting in our LIFE bag factory (factory being loosely used here as it is four walls, two doors and 10 sewing machines).  i spent the first hour celebrating what an amazing job these women did pushing themselves to produce the 700 LIFE bags for summit series and just trying to relay how incredible this was to witness 700 of our bags walking around washington dc and being used by such influential innovators of our times (thank you summit series for selecting the ctc LIFE bag as the conference schwag bag!).  we then looked through our new ctc brochures and current ctc videos.  the womens reactions to the videos were absolute comical…slapping each other each time one of them appeared on screen and then yelling out each persons name that they knew in each video…hilarious!

after updating our staff about ctc stateside i asked them what has been going on here in kenya and is there anything that they would like to share….amazing what then followed.

spontaneously the women started standing up and sharing about specific ways that their lives have changed, how they have been empowered and what truly struck me as they spoke beyond their compelling stories was the nature in which they shared.  their eyes…you could literally see and feel the hope radiating from their eyes.  only a year ago was i here and these same women their shoulders bowed down, eyes looking towards their feet, all body language hunched over and insecure.  it was painful trying to get them to look up and share anything.  now…just a year later here we stand gathered in a room slapping one anothers hands, reflecting on the pain, growth and excitement from the past year.  their lives pouring forth and exuding new life….remarkable!

at one point it took all i had not to weep.  sitting in a room gathered with a group of women who shoulder burdens you cannot fathom…homeless, beaten, raped, stripped of any sense of identity just a year ago.  and now standing together in this small room sharing about how their lives have changed and no matter what little money they are earning what a difference this “little” has made.

i just sat there on the verge of tears looking around me and thinking, “how did this happen?”  how did my life converge with their lives?  how did we come up with this idea of making canvas bags so that their children could go to school?  how am i standing here amongst such a profound collection of women, of individuals, of empowered souls?  who am i to share a room with such tremendous human beings?

where will ctc go with our LIFE bag program…who knows?  what i can say is that at the very least today we sat in a room bound together by a spirit that can only be described as profoundly human.  what i mean by human is that there was nothing flashy, no bells, no whistles….just people gathered together sharing at the most base level what is happening in our lives as people, as a community, as a family.  the human spirit was tangible, it was what i like to describe as raw.  it made you want to grab hold of it and squeeze it for all that it is because it is so incredibly beautiful.

big love,


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About the Author

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Zane Wilemon is the Founder and Executive Director of Ubuntu. Zane discovered his life’s calling after purchasing a one-way ticket to Kenya in 2000. After living in Kenya for a year, Zane’s life was changed as he recognized that our lives are inextricably tied to God and one another. UBUNTU’s core value is to create opportunities that empower each other to lift ourselves beyond our perceived limitations. Zane is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas and his Masters in Divinity from the Seminary of the Southwest.


  1. Love it man..wish I could of been a part of those conversations! Say hi to Bob and Julie if you bump into them!

    • zanewilemon

      thanks brother…will do! i’m hoping to hook up with them soon. congrats on being a new uncle…sweet!!

  2. Karen Langley

    Beautiful description of an incredible day –great organizing–wonderful changes you are producing with love and respect!

    • zanewilemon

      thanks karen! we need to get you here to take part. these women would love you!!

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