Fanya Farther 2013
An article by Nikki Johnson, April 2013, about her continued commitment to Hamomi after her return to the US. A reminder of how events, awareness and support do not always have to be major fundraisers; they can be simply about community and love.
I’d had this idea once that it would be fun to put on a Frisbee tournament that connected Hamomi students with my community in the Bay Area, fueled by both compassion and competition, with each team playing to win it all for “their” kid. After coming back from a 6-month stint in Kenya where I was introduced to (and fell in love with) Hamomi, I was saddened to hear about the passing of Janet, [long time cook and matron]. I wrote a heartfelt blog post about my feelings and how conflicted I was when I spent a day with her in the hospital right before I left Kenya. My friend Sarah read it and challenged me saying “I’ll help you. What are we going to do about this?” That encouragement was exactly what I needed, and we forged ahead and created a Frisbee tournament. It was a great experience as we pooled our knowledge and resources to plan the event, learning new things along the way. Our friends were also supportive and excited about what we were doing, eagerly helping out, making teams, spreading the word, securing donations, etc.
When the big weekend came, Sarah and I got there early and were really happy as many people showed up to help us set up fields, carry the food that was donated and organize things. We had 8 teams come out to Ocean Beach in San Fransisco for the weekend, and each one was given a photo of a Hamomi Class 8 student, [set to graduate in 2013 and therefore in need of scholarships next year], with their name and a brief introduction from what I’d remembered about them. With the money raised through the bid fees for the tournament, we’d made enough to sponsor one student for an entire year of secondary school. Each team played/fought hard for “their” kid, and team cheers of “Gaylord!”, “Karen!” and “Celestine!” resounded across the beach as each team developed a connection with their kid, trying to win them a sponsorship.
The focus of this event was for Ultimate Frisbee players to do what they normally do (play in Ultimate tournaments), only to have the impact go even further. That was the inspiration of the name, Fanya Further. Fanya means “do” in Swahili, and we wanted to emphasize doing what we already do, just having it be a bit further reaching. Therefore, this was not a donation-heavy event; the bid fees were just like for a normal tournament and we got donated food to keep expenses down. Everyone was told that donations were accepted, but that was not the focus. We sold Hamomi greeting cards at the beach, and a few players and friends donated some additional funds which allowed us to do something amazing: we got to sponsor a second student! As we neared the $2,000 mark, it was great to have so many participants chip in $10, $20 to help towards that additional student. Consequently, the champion of the consolation bracket also got to sponsor their child. It was a fun day, filled with lots of great and competitive Ultimate, silly spirit (or “Harambee”/Unity) games amongst teams after each game ended and lots of love sent towards the wonderful students at Hamomi. Many players were excited to know a student better and are looking to send emails and/or a Frisbee to them when I go in June. We also had a very generously donated Nook e-reader that we will be filling with books for the kids to read and use to increase their knowledge of technology.
The whole weekend was awesome and my happiness lingered into the next few days as I remained humbled and blessed by how much good could be done through a seemingly small thing. I want to encourage anyone with an idea to act on it! You can never know how great it could become until you try. And let your friends know, so many of mine adopted my passion and did whatever they could to help out. If you’ll be in the Bay Area next spring, look out for Fanya Further 2014!!!