When Ubuntu Made launched its Kickstarter campaign for Afridrille on April 3rd, it met its goal of $25,000 within the first 24 hours. Now, with worldwide support growing and growing, the organization has backers who are looking to make a difference. 

The campaign’s top contribution pledge levels include a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Kenya and meet with Maker Mums and Maasai beaders who create these custom-made Afridrilles. With photographer, writer, and former group trip leader Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) leading the trip, the experience will include the opportunity to see first-hand how the community of mothers is changing their lives for the better. 

Photo by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors)
ubuntu made kenya
Photo by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors)

“The storytelling potential for this trip is huge, but what matters most is the connections we are making,” says Erin. “Ubuntu’s maker mums are empowered, badass women, and us as visitors have much to learn from them! Participants on this trip will come away feeling re-invigorated and ready to take on the challenges in their own lives.”

This year, in partnership with Adorama, Ubuntu Made is including a give-back component to the traveling team. Participants will be helping to install a water tank in Kajiado, which the Maasai families will be able to use as a reliable water source. 

When the organization first launched 15 years ago, its focus was to provide care to children with severe special needs by giving their mothers employment opportunities. Women were able to venture out into the job world and created products like bandanas and coffee sleeves for companies like Whole Foods. Now, more than a decade later, the job offerings have expanded to include more creative and fashionable opportunities. 

The Afridrille shoe, which is based on the classic espadrille style, is distinctly African, with styles, colors, patterns, and African kanga linings that bring design opportunities and custom-made pairs.  

ubuntu made kenya
Photo courtesy of Ubuntu Made
ubuntu made kenya
Photo courtesy of Ubuntu Made

For Erin, the organization and community bring an opportunity to tell the story of the women and their thoughtful process. 

“As a travel photographer, I have had the great pleasure and honor of creating images around the world,” she says. “Some of my favorite work has been in Kenya, and more specifically, with and for Ubuntu. I look forward to working with participants on their own storytelling: How do we communicate a story in a powerful way? As artists and creatives, how do we use our voices for good? What does that mean, and what are our responsibilities as visitors?” 

ubuntu made kenya
Photo by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors)
ubuntu made kenya
Photo by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors)
ubuntu made kenya
Photo by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors)

The participants on the trip will not only be able to experience life in Kenya, but will see intimately the wildlife that also populates it. 

“There is nothing quite like sitting under an acacia tree with the Maasai women who do beading for Ubuntu (the Maasai mums). We’ll spend two nights camping with their families for a glimpse into their way of life,” Erin adds. “It’s no mistake that this trip coincides with the wildebeest migration. On safari, we’ll be staying in a small camp for those wanting to experience the real, raw Kenya. I will offer both small group and 1-1 instruction specific to wildlife photography. Of course, even without a camera, this is an adventure you will not soon forget.” 

ubuntu made kenya
Photo by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors)
ubuntu made kenya
Photo by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors)

For anyone who is looking to make the trip, the adventures are abound. 

“This is a trip for the adventure traveler — one with a keen interest in storytelling, who wants to deeply connect with the places and people they visit,” Erin adds. “This experience is rich, deep, and incredibly unique, and is not something you can buy anywhere else. We hope to see you in Kenya!”

Adorama

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