Manifest That!  The Underwear Story

Manifest That! The Underwear Story

Its funny how life is sometimes. You can be going along all hunky dory doing your thing and then you make one small decision and it changes your whole life. I met Heidi Totten in January of 2017 and began to learn all about her trips to Kenya and 100 humanitarians. We were talking one day in September and I was telling her how I like to sew and create my own patterns. She asked if I wanted to go to Kenya- if you’ve met Heidi, you know she does this all the time. I said yes, at some point, but what can I do now?

She asked me if I could make and underwear pattern.

….This is where everything in my life began to change….

I said yes.

An underwear pattern. How often do you think about underwear here in the United States? Maybe once a day, –you know to make sure you put on a clean pair. The point is we rarely think about it, its just part of all the other stuff we don’t really think about here. But that’s not the case in Kenya and other developing countries. There are people- Women and girls who don’t even know what underwear or panties are!

Talk about an eye opener for me. I will never be ungrateful for the things I have ever again.

Heidi told me Christine’s story, and she told me the story of these beautiful girls that missed school every month, had to sit on cardboard for a week and wait while they bled and life went by. These girls that are taught to get a boyfriend, so the boy can get them what they need (feminine hygiene products) to help them stop bleeding and/or sex and then pregnancy. These girls then end up dropping out of school, in early marriages with FGM, prostitution and being young mothers on the streets. For these girls, a pair of underwear is life changing.

Yes, I said yes!

I have sons,There’s like 3 styles of underwear for boys. That’s it 1, 2, 3. Style A,B, or C.

Then you look at girls and it’s like you need freaking library card catalog system just to find ONE style!

Hipster, boy shorts, granny, bikini, skimpy bikini, high cut, low cut, boxer cut, and who knows how many others! But wait there’s more then there’s like hipster style A, B and C…

Anyways musings of a pattern designer.

As I did my research, I started drawing up ideas for the pattern. Every time I finished a drawing I would here a voice in my head that said, “its to much, keep it simple.” I went through several drawings always making them more and more simple, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t right yet.

One day I was looking at pictures from 100 humanitarians past expeditions. I realized I needed to make this pattern in a way that it would not need anything extra but the fabric and thread.  Did you know most underwear styles here use elastic? I found out later, elastic is hard to find in Kenya.

I made the underwear pattern in eight sizes, with three pattern pieces, no extras. Fabric and thread. Simple.

Heidi and I met up and I gave her the pattern to take to Christine, who would be making underwear from the pattern, in Kenya.

Then she asks, “Can you make this pattern from a T-shirt?”

Yes, yes you can.

One pattern. 8 sizes and you can make it from a T-shirt. Simple.

By small and simple things great things can happen.

-Marissa Waldrop

 

Marissa Waldrop is a wife and Mother to 4 sons. She has always had a passion for creative expression and to inspire others to do their best. Marissa has a Bachelors of Science degree in Communication from Brigham Young Univ. Idaho, over 25 years of experience sewing and creating with fabric and other mediums, and over 5 years of experience as a leader in mentoring and coaching others to embrace creative expression and communication within themselves.

 

Delivering Empowerment

Delivering Empowerment

On my first trip to Kenya, we delivered a cow to a family in the Suswa area. One of our team members, Kaci, went above and beyond with her fundraising for lady named Elizabeth. We brought the cow to the local pastor’s house. We call him “Pastor Ben.” He helped us find Elizabeth though our boots-on-the-ground guys, Moses and David. Pastor Ben lives in the same area as Elizabeth, so we thought we’d bring the cow to his house and walk it to Elizabeth’s place.

Elizabeth lives roughly a mile away from Pastor Ben. To the best of my recollection, there was maybe one other house between the pastor and her house. The path we took led us down bumpy dirt roads, recently harvested fields, and ditches. It couldn’t have been a nicer day. Perfect temperature, perfect cloud coverage (very little–blue skies, white puffy clouds dotting the sky) … but that all paled in comparison to the experience itself.

As we walked the cow to Elizabeth’s place, we talked, we laughed, we stumbled, we laughed again, and we had a blast. Here we were, a modge-podge group of crazy Americans and one guy from India, and merrily walked down this dusty dirt path. I’d guess we were maybe the equivalent of roughly 2 blocks from her house when we started hearing something not us. We all kind of stopped in our tracks, wondering what the sound was.

In the distance, we could see a group of people walking toward us. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I found myself stepping up my pace to find out who these people were. As we got closer, David and Moses told us that the group coming toward us were the villagers and friends of Elizabeth. See, over there, in Kenya, when there’s cause for a family to celebrate, the whole village celebrates. As we got closer and closer, the noise became much more distinct–so much so that David and Moses identified the song that they were singing FOR US. It was a song of gratitude, prayer, and praise to God for bringing Elizabeth this cow.

The whole point of this cow is to help empower Elizabeth to become more financially independent. No, she’s not going to build herself a mansion on the funds this cow brings in, but she can do a lot of things with this cow: use and/or sell milk, churn butter and possibly sell some, have calves that she can, in turn, sell or use for meat … this cow becomes a source of empowerment for her and her family. It will help put her children through school and possibly on to college!

I don’t care how big or burly you are. I don’t care what your testosterone level is. If that kind of scene does not move you to tears, you have no soul. As one of the photographers, I found it nearly impossible to  capture a good shot because my eyes were so blurred from tears cascading down my cheeks and soaking the dry, dusty road. My voice caught in my throat, a lump the size of lower Manhatten prevented me from breathing properly for a good few minutes as I drank in the entire scene.

It was in that moment that I realized that we weren’t really the ones changing lives; it was Kenya changing us–molding us to be better people, to show us a better way of living through giving thanks for all that we have had, currently have, and will ever have. It was so inspiring to walk with these people to their village, deliver the cow to Elizabeth, and drink chai tea with them.

Come with us. Your experiences will vary, but the emotions are the same.

Volunteer in Kenya with 100 Humanitarians

Volunteer in Kenya with 100 Humanitarians

What is the Power of 100 People? Volunteer in Kenya

I have always loved to volunteer for anything and everything. In high school I volunteered to create posters in the shape of Monopoly cards for every high school in Arizona that included all of their stats, so that we could hang them on the walls at the Arizona State Student Council Convention. My high school was hosting it that year. There were hundreds of schools. To this day I can probably tell you some of their mascots and colors without thinking too hard about it.

In college I continued my poster painting skills and volunteered to be the Publicity Coordinator on my dorm’s activity council. I became really good at giant posters advertising dances and movie nights. In fact, our director told me that I really should go into Marketing or Public Relations, because I really loved to talk. Nonstop. To anyone. About everything.

I was born this way.

After the shower scene, I got to work. I started the Facebook group 100 Humanitarians, and started inviting people to join it. That was back when people didn’t yell at you for adding them to a group. I didn’t really care, though, because most of the people I added are world-changers, and I was definitely out to change the world. Or at least volunteer in a very small area of Kenya. I kept asking the question, “Why 100 Humanitarians?” Finally the ultimate question that drives me daily came into my mind.

What is the power of 100 people working together on any project in the world to create positive change? 

Now, that was a question I could really sink my teeth (and life) into. This was about mid-July 2015. I knew that I needed to go back to Kenya to do a scouting trip and see if I could figure out what to work on, so I tentatively started planning one for November. I emailed Moses, and let him know that I was hoping to do more work in Kenya, and that my goal was to bring families and work with families. He began giving me a few ideas, but said that we could scout out some places. At that point, I really had no idea who would even come with me to volunteer, but I decided if I at least planned out something interesting, that people would show up. They definitely showed up.

The following month, in early August, I was asked to speak at a homeschool conference run by Tom and Tresta Neil. I spent some time with Tresta talking about Kenya, and she connected me with Stephen and Amy Story, two friends of hers who had a nonprofit that they weren’t actively working on. It turned out that what I was feeling led to do aligned with their nonprofit’s mission, so 100 Humanitarians launched as a DBA under the 7 Pillars Foundation. The 7 Pillars Foundation had a training program to help people shift from focusing on the negative to focusing on the positive. I was able to train in the 7 Pillars, with a goal of teaching it in Kenya. Stephen and Amy were hugely supportive of 100 Humanitarians, and it was a relief to be able to allow people to make tax-deductible donations, just in time for the event that came to my mind as a fun launch event.

 

When the Kitchen Fell Down at Tenkes School

The Mau Forest is a really beautiful area of Kenya, and on my second trip during a very rainy and muddy day, we drove up to visit Tenkes School. When we got out of the jeep, we were greeted by about 15 elders who were on the board of the school. They gave us a tour of the school, and showed us two things that really had an impact on me. First, the desks. There were just not enough for the students, and they were sitting 4-5 in a desk.
100 Humanitarians - Tenkes School in the Mau Forest Kenya

There were three classrooms with about 300 students at the school. Each classroom had about 6-8 desks, so most kids were sitting on the floor. Or standing. Can you imagine learning while standing all day? I committed to figure out how to raise funds for 15-20 more desks at least for the school. Turned out that was the really easy thing to do – raise funds. The hard part is cutting down trees and planing wood and building the desks. They don’t have Home Depot down the road with perfect planks for building. That’s the thing you really learn in a developing country quickly; just how unavailable resources are that you can easily get in the U.S.

100 Humanitarians - Kitchen at Tenkes School
Next on the tour was the kitchen that volunteer parents use to cook for 300 students each day. Children had to bring their own firewood, or they would get caned or beaten. A typical lunch would be ugali, which is similar to a corn polenta. Kenyans also drink African tea, and so that is often what the students will have. The Mau Forest can get very cold, because it is at a higher elevation than the Maasai Mara. This kitchen was falling apart pretty quickly, and didn’t provide shelter for the cooks when it rained. So my second commitment was to rebuild the kitchen, and we held the event A Taste of Kenya to do just that.

100 Humanitarians - Tenkes School Board

One of the objectives of Tenkes School is to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation through education. These men were very aware of the issue, and were very enthusiastic to share with me how they were working to stop FGM. This was the first time I had experienced that in Kenya from men, and it was really powerful. We spent several hours with them discussing their challenges.

 

It was a few months later that the kitchen fell down after severe rainstorms in The Mau. We coordinated efforts with the school, and on our first official expedition to Kenya we were able to visit Tenkes School and help build the final desks (we ended up donating 20.) The kitchen was rebuilt, and lunch was cooked for our team in the new kitchen.

The new kitchen was built with two rooms, so that a teacher would be able to sleep on one side. We had lunch with the students and school community, and were invited to eat goat with the elders who were on the Tenkes School Board.

 

We also planted 75 trees at the school as part of our reforestation project, because trees bring in water, but also provide firewood for the community as they grow. It was a wonderful day at the school and the impact on our team was tangible.

Edith Njapit’s Maasai Housewarming Party

Edith Njapit’s Maasai Housewarming Party

Edith Njapit’s Maasai Housewarming Party

I remember how I felt, after 40 hours of flying and 5 hours of driving to the Maasai Mara. I felt like I had been run over by a safari jeep, and I didn’t look much better. And yet, I was so happy, when we drove up to this scene. A whole group of Maasai celebrating my friend Edith’s housewarming party. It was a few days later that I dubbed the tree in this picture Edith’s “Wisdom Tree” and it has become a symbol of home in Kenya for me over the past few years.

100 Humanitarians - Mama HelenMeeting Mama Helen

It was also where I met Mama Helen, who is my Maasai Mum. Actually, I had met her on my first trip, but it was briefly. It’s amazing all of the things that are so meaningful for me now that were launched on that day. We ate, celebrated, and I was able to hug friends I had met six months earlier.

100 Humanitarians - David KupaiDavid Kupai

This was my “scouting trip” after starting 100 Humanitarians in July 2015. At the time, I just wanted to see what was possible to create. I decided to spend two weeks just immersed in the tribe and the culture while waiting for insight and direction. Little did I know how important this tribe would become in my life.

100 Humanitarians - Masois100 Humanitarians - MasoisThe Masois

So many tender moments came out of that day. I also met my Maasai Dad, who I had the blessing of knowing for a year and a half before he passed away in June 2017. He didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Maasai, but whenever I saw him he held my hand and hugged me, and sometimes that is all it takes to create a bond.

How do I even put into words my experiences in Kenya? It has been my refiner’s fire. It has changed me to the core. My ability to share my heart and the miracles I have experienced will be limited, but it is my honor to serve alongside the people of Kenya, and I will do my best to honor them.

– Heidi Totten, Executive Director of 100 Humanitarians International