I have talked to a lot of people over the past few years, about volunteering. The most common reason that I have heard the most as to why people don’t volunteer is that they don’t have time. This was followed in a close second by people thinking they can’t offer enough to make a difference. Be it money, time, volunteering for events, spreading the word or any of the many tasks that we perform as members of Kuamini; I have grown to realize that every little bit counts. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when we can’t solve all of the problems that exist but I think it’s important to focus on the little differences that we can make. Every person has something great to offer and the ability to impact the lives of others. This is something I truly believe and I live by it every day.
Born in a field without any medical assistance, Jackson Ombunga Olumasai joined the world in a small village in Western Kenya called Shianda Butere. At the age of nine Jackson suffered the loss of his loving mother and went to live with his Grandmother. At the age of twelve he then went to live under the care of his father and step mother. Wanting to attend school, Jackson had to raise the equivalent of twenty five cents daily for school fees and food.
Each day presented struggles for this young man who worked so hard to create a future for himself. Living under the primary care of his step-mother Jackson soon came to realize that she lacked compassion and care towards him. He was physically beaten by her and was forced to share food with the family dog. On occasion Jackson was provided with food intended for humans however it was often five days old and riddled with flies and cockroaches. Jackson was regularly sent home from school as he didn’t have the necessary supplies, had holes in his uniform or wasn’t able to pay the fees.
Eventually his step mother relocated herself to the city leaving Jackson alone for the most part. In order to fend for himself he would climb a mango or guava tree so he could nourish himself with the fruit. After school he would return home, wash his uniform and would often have to climb the fruit trees as there was nothing to eat for dinner. During this time Jackson survived by doing casual jobs and caring for his father’s cows. He lived in a small structure that provided no electricity and filled with water when it rained. He owned two sets of clothing, one of which was his school uniform. He got his very first pair of shoes at the age of nineteen.
When Jackson completed his schooling he moved to Nairobi. This presented new opportunities for him and he was able to start his career with Asira Foundation. During that time he also volunteered with various organizations including Nyumbani Children’s Home, Kabiro Trust and the Starfish Charity.
Along with supporting himself and contributing to his community, Jackson met a wonderful and compassionate Canadian woman named Amanda. She would eventually become his wife and five years later they moved to Canada. The couple now have three beautiful sons and play a very active role in Kuamini. Jackson is our Board President and helps to lead us in the direction that allows us to best give a hand up to people in Kenya. His life experiences and knowledge of the country are the foundation of our mission. We also applaud and acknowledge how Jackson has overcome his struggles and committed a large part of his life to make things better.