“Under the Same Tree began when, as a college student, I spent time volunteering in East Africa. Something that really stood out to me was that there were so many local people who had a passion and vision to bring about change in their communities, but they did not have access to the resources necessary to make their vision a reality. We initiated our first partnership in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, with a community who wanted to build sustainable sources of income through microfinance – an empowering innovation in which small amounts of capital are lent to people to start business ventures.
We have seen something remarkable happen when individuals who are vulnerable to extreme poverty are empowered economically. It prevents families from experiencing hunger and homelessness. It prevents children from being orphaned. It prevents exploitation and human trafficking traps. Instead of living in the atmosphere of desperation caused by extreme poverty and dependence upon charity, we are seeing families thriving with the most incredible resilience. They want to impact their own communities; we are seeing empowered families adopting orphaned children and mentoring vulnerable single mothers. Empowerment sparks a grassroots movement of hope that can transform entire communities and societies.
The name of our organization is “Under the Same Tree;” it comes from an African proverb that speaks of everyone in the village coming together at the end of the year under an ancient tree. They come together to discuss where they have come from, the current struggles they face, and how they can move forward together. For us, this is what our work is all about. We come alongside local people, and together we walk forward in hope. Our work is not about charity or “hand-outs;” it’s about sustainable empowerment and locally-led transformation.
Under the Same Tree now has programs in Kenya, Uganda, and has plans to expand into other parts of the world in years to come. In the three years that I have led this organization, I have learned so much from the communities with whom we work. They have taught me resilience and what it means to never give up on hope. They have taught me that the most powerful stories are often the ones hidden deep in the slums, stories that will probably never make headlines but have transformed many lives. This work has never been easy, but it has always been worth it.”0