Before writing about what are my plans post Atlas Corps, I would like to first tell you what I’ve done in the past since I consider that is part of the whole idea.
I started my journey in the social/development sector in early 2013 as an AIESEC volunteer at a primary school in rural Kenya. Your first question that people usually ask is: “Why Kenya?”
After 1,5 years working at full-time job at an advertising Agency from 9am to 5pm and at the same time finishing my undergrad in Communications from 6pm to 11pm, I reached a point that I felt I was going to explode. Besides, I found it pointless to spend my whole life in front of a computer working for someone who didn’t even pay me that much. It just didn’t make any sense for me.
Additionally, I started feeling a void within me, similar to the feeling that Siddhartha had while living amongst the Brahman cast, for those of you who are familiar with Hermann Hesse’s novel. It was a feeling of thirst of willing to define who I was, what was my purpose in life and what I wanted to do for the rest of my existence mixed with a readiness to jump out to the world and explore what was out there.
So after I finished my Bachelor of Arts in Communications, I quit my job and signed up for AIESEC’s volunteer program. Again, “Why Kenya?” I don’t know, it just happened. Maybe the fact that the project was located in a remote area of a country in such a controversial continent generally associated with poverty, hunger and suffering, made my young mind to tip the balance towards this project with the illusion of “changing the world”. So naïve.
I remember repeating to myself that I felt that I had too much energy to be wasted in front of a computer so I wanted to go out there and use it for a good cause greater then myself. At the same time I always had this passion for wildlife, limitless nature and freedom, so Kenya consolidated all that as well. I think that growing up seeing photos of the African savannah and watching Lion King also helped to be more keen to a project in this country than another one in Asia with the same job description.
After spending 1 year as a teacher in a primary school for kids with blindness and autism surrounded by the majesty of the Kenyan landscape and spending most of the time on my own, I learned a lot about myself and it definitely shaped my vision of the world. At the same time I accomplish my other desire which was going out and explore the world, so I embarked in a solo journey all across East Africa using just local transportation: no airplanes. I started in Nairobi and traveled to the West towards Uganda reaching almost the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. Then I started heading south towards Tanzania reaching all the way to Malawi where I reached the peak of my adventure. I realized that one could still live a happy and simple life detached from all the shit that we have to go through in our countries and at the same trying to do some “good” for humanity.
After such experience, I was accepted for a Post Graduate Program in Social Innovation Management at the Amani Institute in early 2014. These studies helped to shape my mindset to see the world as a place full of opportunities for creating a positive impact. It gave me exposure, frameworks, knowledge, social entrepreneurs, effective communication, teamwork and hands on in a sector that I had never thought about it before traveling to Kenya for the first time.
After finishing my studies and internship at Ashoka East Africa, I started my own social enterprise with blind youth in Nairobi: Drums in the Dark.
The philosophy behind Drums in the Dark is “connecting through happiness”. Drums in the Dark is a unique, live experience where blind percussionists create a flow of sounds alongside an electronic music producer to reach a new level of connection between blind and sighted.
By creating a space for blind artists to show the world their enhanced talents, we will generate a new type of relationship based on admiration, respect and only positive emotions.
Also, it was in Kenya that I discovered my love towards the practice of Yoga and took it to the next step by attending a 200-hour Yoga teacher Training in Nairobi.