Expedition Stories: Stephen Leken Performs for 100 Humanitarians

Expedition Stories: Stephen Leken Performs for 100 Humanitarians

Stephen Leken: Maasai Gospel Singer

Stephen Leken is one of the most well known Maasai Gospel singers in Kenya, and in the fall of 2016, he came to the Maasai Mara to perform at our concert for the Emparnat Cultural Centre. One of my favorite songs is Kaanyor, which means I love you in Maasai. 

Stephen and his wife, Faith, often perform together, as she dances in most of his YouTube videos. 

A few days after the concert, we held a housewarming part for David Kupai, who had built a house in his village called Ilturisho. 

The Housewarming Party

Just like the concert, hundreds of people came to celebrate David’s house, and hear Stephen perform. There was music, food, dancing, and a lot of love. We are grateful that Stephen and Faith stayed for a few days to be there. 

At one point, I punched David in the arm and said, “Can you believe that Stephen Leken and Lemarti are performing at your housewarming party?!” 

Traditionally, Maasai live in mud huts, called Manyattas. This was David’s first house that he had built, so it was cause for a huge celebration in the community. 

Expedition Stories: Alex Boye and Lemarti Perform for 100 Humanitarians

Expedition Stories: Alex Boye and Lemarti Perform for 100 Humanitarians

Alex Boye Performs at A Taste of Kenya

A Taste of Kenya. Alex Boye. Seemed like a logical combination, right? Not so. When we decided to do the event, we reached out to two amazing performers, Cactus Jack and Jennifer Marco, who both suggested we reach out to Alex. I took a chance and emailed his people via his website, but didn’t receive a response. So, I just left it up to fate, and boy did fate intervene! A few weeks later, my friend Heather messaged me and said, “Will Moses be awake the night he arrives in the U.S.?” We had decided to fly Moses to the U.S. for a few weeks for different events and meetings that we were putting on, and it turned out that Alex Boye was doing a free concert the night Moses was arriving, and that she had free tickets.

“Yes, Moses will be awake, and will be there in a shuka!” Bless his heart, even though he was exhausted from 30 hours of international travel from Kenya, he got dressed up and we headed downtown to the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City. The opening act was a jazz band that put us both to sleep, but then Alex took the stage. I knew (KNEW) that if Alex saw Moses in his Maasai shuka that it would be game over. Except he didn’t see him. We didn’t know what to do after the concert and waited around for a bit to see if Alex would come out, but he didn’t. So finally Moses took the reigns and said, “He’s still in the theater so let’s just go in.”

We went back into the auditorium and saw Alex and crew cleaning up the stage. As we walked towards them, suddenly Alex saw Moses and it was like everything went into slow motion as he yelled, “MAASAI!” and jumped off the stage. The next few minutes were a blur, as we met Alex and made arrangements for Moses to join him in filming a video the next day.

Alex Boye Meets Moses Masoi

I had mentioned A Taste of Kenya to Alex and he thought he would be out of town for it, so that pretty much ended that conversation, but we still had the next day to look forward to. I think Moses was in a shuka more during those first few days in the U.S. than he is during a month in Kenya, but he was a great sport about it.

The next day we met Alex at a drum shop in Salt Lake to film the video. To my knowledge, it was never released to the public, but it was a really fun morning. After we wrapped up, we talked and brainstormed about doing another video where Alex would be able to wear the traditional Maasai clothing, and agreed that we would text and set a date. Little did we know what was going to be in the works over the next few weeks!

Alex Boye and Lemarti

The days went by, and we started planning a concert to be held on The Maasai Mara. I had become friends with Stephen Leken on Facebook, a very popular Maasai Gospel singer. We were also able to have another singer, Pastor Ben, whom we later began working with on projects in his community.

Then, one day, Moses said, “I wonder if we could get Lemarti to perform.” Lemarti is a Samburu performer with a Bob Marley Reggae vibe, and we listen to his music a lot on our expeditions. It turned out that Lemarti was in the U.S. at the time, so Moses started chatting with him, and finally we came up with an agreement for him to perform at the concert. We were at a Mexican restaurant when it all came together. Suddenly, Moses got a very funny look on his face. He turned his phone around, and showed me the Alex Boye video “Circle of Life” featuring LEMARTI. What?! How was this happening?!

But first, we had A Taste of Kenya to host, and the week of the event, Alex called me and we arranged to film Promised Land the day of the event. It would include shukas, a potbelly pig, searching for Al Fox Carraway, and walking around downtown Salt Lake City. Behind the scenes, it was hilarious watching people get all excited about the pig, and want to pet the pig, when there were two Africans in full shuka (the Maasai dress) standing there. I heard maybe one person say, “I think that’s Alex Boye.”

The best part of the day was ending up at A Taste of Kenya, and surprising the attendees with the news that they were going to be in an Alex Boye video that night! We had amazing performers at that event. Cactus Jack and Jenn Marco both performed, along with WOFA Afro Fusion. We wound up the night singing Karaoke and dancing and it was a really fun party. 

We also raised money for families in Kenya to receive cows and goats, in addition to school fees and reusable feminine hygiene kits! 

Lemarti Performs on the Maasai Mara

After wrapping up A Taste of Kenya, we headed TO Kenya with our team, and drove the to Maasai Mara for a concert with Lemarti. Lemarti is the most popular and well-known performer among the Maasai and Samburu tribes in Kenya. Literally, every ringtone you hear is a Lemarti song. 

And we were bringing him to the Maasai Mara for a free concert to kick-off our plan to build the Emparnat Cultural Centre. This was a huge deal for the community, and we had hundreds of people coming, including government officials and community leaders. 

Lemarti brought Resh, Saning'o, and Jeff Ole Kishau with him, and after performing, they decided to stay with our team and spend a few days on safari with us. It was incredible. Lemarti brought his guitar on our game drive, and we all sang "Jambo Bwana" over a picnic lunch looking out over the greater Maasai Mara.

On every expedition, we try to bring in something unique, that is beyond what our team expects. We've had Lemarti join us on another expedition as well, and his music has become the background for a lot of 100 Humanitarians International videos. Someday, we will get him to the United States to perform at Humanijam, and you'll get to meet the "Bob Marley of Kenya." 

Youth Education: Ndee’s Story

Youth Education: Ndee’s Story

Youth Education: Ndee’s Story

Youth education is a core pillar of 100 Humanitarians International, and Ndee’s story is a reminder of what is possible when girls are rescued in Kenya. At a very young age, Ndee was married to a man who already had several wives. After getting pregnant and having the baby, she ran from the marriage.

We were told her story, and agreed to help her family with a cow and goat to start. After we met Ndee, we agreed to sponsor her education in Secondary School. Her mom agreed to help raise her baby. She was facing a big challenge, but she got into a boarding school and was able to start school a couple of months later.

Lemarti Performs at Ndee’s Home

Ndee got a big surprise when Lemarti performed at her house the first time our team met her. She’s a pretty shy and quiet girl, so to have a big team and several musicians come to her home was pretty incredible. Over the years, Ndee has joined us on expeditions, where she has learned skills from our team. We have been able to visit her at her school. She had the opportunity to do an internship with Anita, learning how to sew, raise chickens, and build garden towers. 

Her life is completely different, and she has opportunities she never imagined now. She is getting ready to graduate from high school in 2020, with a goal to go on to University and become a surgeon. It’s been a long and difficult road for her, but she has stuck with it and is one of our best students. 

In June 2017, we were able to go and visit Ndee at her school. She was excited to see us. This was the first time we were able to visit her at school, when she was a Freshman. It’s amazing how far she has come since then.

Our team built garden boxes at Ndee’s house that trip, to help with providing vegetables for her family. Her parents got involved with helping build, and several members of the community joined in to learn.

100 Humanitarians International would love your help to provide school fees for students like Ndee. We have 27 students that we are supporting right now, and 6 of them are getting ready to graduate. If you would like to help, just donate below, or set up a monthly donation and help a student ongoing!

Celebrate100: Week Two

Celebrate100: Week Two

Celebrate100: Week Two

Celebrate100 Review

We started off week two with Facity’s story. Facity is the mom for the first family we worked with in Kenya.

Then, you get your first introduction to Anita, our Community Director in Bomet. She has been our boots on the ground there for the past 4 1/2 years, and is an incredible leader!

Ivyn is the first girl we sponsored with school fees in Kenya. Her story is heart-breaking, but with a happy ending.

Team Leaders are hugely important on our expeditions, and Heather Rangel was the best!

Our first Days for Girls workshop in Bomet happened, prior to helping Anita establish a Days for Girls Enterprise in Bomet later in the year.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for updates, or read the stories on our blog

We are just getting started with much more to come as we celebrate the final 100 days of the year!

Women’s Initiatives: Days for Girls in Bomet

Women’s Initiatives: Days for Girls in Bomet

Women’s Initiatives: Days for Girls in Bomet

Days for Girls is an organization that was started by Celeste Mergens to solve a problem. Girls around the world have nothing to take care of menstruation, and when she saw that, she set out to create a resuable feminine hygiene pad. 

When we went to Bomet to teach hygiene, we realized that organizing a Days for Girls Enterprise there would be beneficial to the community and especially the women in that area. After a donation to start the Enterprise, Anita and Christine got everything set up and organized. 

Our first workshop in Bomet, we were able to provide toothbrushes and toothpaste to the women there, after a donation from Brandy Vega and Good Deed Revolution. Brandy had received a donation of dental supplies, and decided to take it, not knowing where it needed to go. We ended up connecting and taking it off of her hands for her. Good Deed Revolution wrote a story about it. 

Choosing the Five Families

Moses and David headed to Bomet to scout out hotels and meet with Anita. She chose five families that could benefit from receiving a part of our Business Box for Families program. Those families included

Facity and her five children 
Mercy and Vincent 
Ivyn and Faith, who were being watched over by their uncle because their parents were diagnosed with HIV
Monica and her four boys, two of whom were blind
Julianna and her daughters, Mercy and Faith

Each family had unique challenges that we could address, but first we wanted to meet with them and get to know them. Connection with people is a priority for 100 Humanitarians International. 

The number of women grew throughout the afternoon, as word spread that we were teaching. By the end, there were over 100 women there, and they were ALL interested in learning how to sew, and receiving Days for Girls kits. 

After the workshop, we had a big old dance party, and celebrated with the community. Things were about to change for them, and they didn’t even really realize the impact that having these kits would have on their lives. It was really beautiful, and lots of tears were shed.