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Yoek in Africa

Yoek in Africa
By Dana April 3, 2019 2181 Views

As you might have read or seen on our website, social media or in the newsletter, we started selling our very own olive oil not too long ago, for our charity ‘Oil for Education’.

In the context of this trip Johanna, the owner of Yoek, went to take a look at two of the projects we support in Africa. A beautiful, but also very emotional journey we were longing to hear much more about. With a smile and some tears we talked about the special people she has met along the way, the children who are still so happy with nothing and the sleepless nights all this causes. It drops you with both feet back on the ground of our pretty, but sometimes also incomprehensible, divided and unfair planet. It is my pleasure to share some of her experiences, because we think it is important that you are aware of what we are working on at Yoek, next to designing lovely pieces to put in your wardrobe.

Because we, here in The Netherlands, are blessed with a wardrobe, or sometimes even a walk-in-closet, in which we have the luxury to put something new quite regularly. Our cradle stood in a country where we have been able to grow up in peace, wealth and safety. We take it for granted way too often, but with our project we force ourselves to give people who are not so lucky more than just a moment’s thought.

At the beginning of March, Johanna flew to Nairobi (Kenya), from where she travelled to Kisumu. Here, Father Chrispinus was waiting for her, Chris is a priest as well as the leader of our project in Sirimba, located near Lake Victoria in the western part of Kenya. Together with him she went to visit all schools from toddler to high school for three days. The kids are so sweet and happy with so little. Some days they only eat once, because there simply is no food. The small hospital in Sirimba, led by sister Mary, will be rebuilt and extended in order to make it accessible for the entire population of the village. At the moment, there are about 17 child-births a week, a huge number when you know that there is not even a proper delivery-room and therefore no privacy for the women. Plans are being made to realize more accommodation to let the kids stay overnight close to school. Right now they have to walk one to two hours and after their arrival they go straight to church at 7AM. Every day the service is led by Chris, who is amazingly passionate and committed to take care of the kids from the early morning to late evening. Whatever happens in the village, he tries to be there for everyone and attempts to take their minds off the poverty and often harrowing situations. Distraction is most importantly given by singing and dancing, which are both a great part of daily life.

After Sirimba Johanna went to Eldoret, which is a 5-hour drive. From there she took a flight to the next project in Lodwar where Esther and her daughter Lysah are in command of the education project. This is where Johanna also met Clementine, a beautiful soul who is fully dedicated to help fellow human beings and who steals your heart immediately with her pretty smile. Extremely positive, someone we can learn from! The situation in Lodwar is probably even worse compared to Sirimba, what is difficult to imagine. We talk about the Turkana Tribe at the Turkana Lake, where they are even poorer and the kids have to survive with even less. There are for instance hardly any classrooms or desks available, but they do follow lessons while sitting in the sand with old study books for hours in a row. And next to the lack of classrooms, there barely are teachers, which at times leads to classes of hundreds of pupils.

Chris, Mary and Clementine are the three heroes in this story, both day and night they do their utmost best to give the children a future with the few resources available. Contrary to what we often do; thinking of what we don’t have, they mostly think of what they do have! They work very hard to build up the country; not necessarily to let everyone go to a university, they want people to work on the development of their own village and region, and not that people are moving to other countries for an individual, better future. The goal is that people learn to take care of themselves and their family, to educate them of how to grow their own veggies and fruit, and there is for example a micro bank to provide them with the opportunity to start a small business.

She has definitely shed some tears in Kenya, but above all Johanna returned to The Netherlands with loads of energy to take these projects to a next level. At Yoek we obviously do our utmost best to expand our brand, but we also think of the people who are not even aware of the existence of such a rich environment like ours. We do have the resources and the chance to give our support to the rest of the world. This great experience which has been an emotional rollercoaster gives us the strength and most importantly the inspiration to pursue this charity initiative.

I hope I have been able to give you a little insight in what drives us; giving something back to the world and, above all, making people happy, not only with beautiful clothes but also with giving opportunities and a better future, just like we are used to.

Read more about ‘Oil for Education’ in our other post. The olive oil is available in our online store.