Tricky Chic

May 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Dear Reader,

I am delighted to inform you that you have been tricked.

While you read my ode to mothers, I was on a plane. And on Mother’s Day morning, as my family gathered for brunch at our house in Spokane, I walked up the stairs to the front door, unannounced, and rang the bell with a fist full of flowers.

I really don’t have words to describe what that pause felt like. My mom opened the door and covered her mouth as tears ran quietly. My aunts and grandma cried, my dad held back tears, and my grandpa and uncles and cousins looked at me like an unfinished puzzle. I had expected this, but I did not anticipate the shock I would feel, to be suddenly in sight of these things long pined for. Thanks to a younger passing mimosas, this freeze thawed into the couch and stories and artifacts began their excited trade.

Does the sheer fact of this possibility amaze you?! That in one day we can be in the mountains of Kenya kissing kids and the very next day be walking the sunny streets we were raised in.  To me, this is wildly amazing.

Long story short, I am back in America!  And I so far feel a bubbly mix of gratitude and overwhelm; gratitude for loved ones and consistency in the basics; overwhelmed by all our efficiencies and all we have and glorify, but don’t need.

Before I get ahead, let’s rewind!  Leaving the kids is never easy.  Actually, that’s not true.  It’s easy for the first few hours because a sudden, forgotten, and mystical sound that avails itself.  This sound is silence, and the bliss of it is like water to thirst.  But when satisfied, wonder sets in, and wonder leads to aching for their love and beautiful nuance. But this time was more difficult than usual because of one, entirely beautiful, fourteen year old girl, and the sprouting of her luminous dream. This name of this mighty girl is Hannah Njeri, and her dream is to become a model and a singer.

This chapter of her story, or I would dare say fairy tale (depending on how welcoming you are of profound swings in fulfillment and happiness), starts again with the Tribe Hotel; the most gorgeous and extraordinary hotel in Nairobi.  The staff of this lovely giant has chosen lovingly to use the tremendous weight of their creation to sustainably better the lives of children and communities and ecosystems, and thus better the future of our world.  This hotel is run by people who I am running out of words to aptly show my gratitude for.  And like any good fairytale, the climax unfurls in bright feathers at a ball.  In this case, the ball is better known as the Tribal Chic Fashion Show.

Tribe has carved it’s way into the world of vogue by hosting this glamorous, annual fashion show, and the purpose of it lines beautifully with their mission to support local, emerging and established talent.  They choose six East African designers, some world renown, some on their way, and each compose ten dresses for the show. Each work of art then dances the runway on ten totally gorgeous, East African models, some renown, some emerging. The show sells out every year, and this year was no different. The difference this year, however, is that Tribe selected Flying Kites as the beneficiary of the event. This decision was made by the Marketing Director, Alina Haq, and one of the owners, Shamim Ehsani, whose hearts we are forever grateful for and growingly indebted to. I told Alina of Hannah’s dream to become a model and singer, in hopes they might find a way to allow her back stage or incorporate her in the show, and the lengths of giving and passion to follow will astound you.

They spoke with the lead fashion editor of African Woman Magazine, Olive Gachara, who also owns and directs a modeling consultancy. She agreed to volunteer three weeks of her time to teach Hannah to catwalk, and she took Hannah under her wing and into her heart as if she were her own. Then Deepa Dosaja, an extraordinary and thoroughly practiced designer, generously agreed to hand-make a dress for Hannah; a dress gave to her.  It was decided that Hannah would not only partake in the runway, but that she would close the show as the final walk.

If you’re not choking up reader, if this doesn’t hit you somewhere in the chest, think about the countless twists of fate and challenges overcome that have all led to this single, simple moment. It’s a symbol.

Now go inward with me.  In the course of this, I, Brian Jones, a boy who grew up among brothers and boys, was suddenly thrust into a realm I did not know; the realm of a father with a teenage daughter.  Hannah blessed me with my first opportunity to spend multiple days high-heel shopping, accessory shopping, scouting good hallways for runway practice, and discussing the disciplined art of cat-walking. Imagine this:  me sitting in a chair at the end of the hallway in our drippy old house rain pounding the roof, saying ‘Come on sweetie. Chin up, eyes forward, foot in front of foot. You’ve got to focus. You’re on a rope. Walk like you’re on a rope. Let your hips swing naturally. I need more attitude.’  I wish I were exaggerating.

Like many of the experiences I now have, I could never have imagined their presence in my life.  It’s this very wonder and unknown that is our greatest currency.  The memories I now have with Hannah are ones I will hold as closely to my heart as any I have. Our dinners after practice, her focus, her nerves, her giggles, the sidewalks she held my hand on, and the night she fell asleep in my lap reading while I typed.  I discovered the beauty of a daughter to a new degree, and I am forever changed because of this discovery.

This is why it was hard to leave the night before the show, reader, because I am vested in this dream.  Yet I couldn’t wait to surprise my mom. What a beautiful kind of pain is this?!

The flight was full of toe tapping and wonder.  When I got off the plane in Seattle, I hauled my bags from the luggage rack and called to speak to Hannah, as the show had just concluded.  And her joy was the tearful kind.  150 people lined the runway and roared for her.  She executed her walk perfectly, cracking a smile as she passed her sisters, and was given the honor of handing flowers to each designer as they came for applause.  Then our very own, all-too-inspiring Lillian Wambui gave her first-ever public speech about the ways in which Flying Kites has changed her life, enabled her dreams, and forever altered the course of her family.  Like Hannah, she too touched the hearts of those who listened and made all of us entangled in this gorgeous family so thoroughly proud. I will let the pictures fill the holes in the story from here, but rest assure reader that dreams are being made real. In the face darkness and doubt, this how we can best change our world.  This is what we do best.

These are small but vital accomplishments.

I’ll be in the States through June, and my grand plan is to have very few plans at all!  I hope to see many of you in my time here and hope you’ll stay tuned for a possible fundraiser in Seattle or Spokane.  Otherwise, please engage in this dream building if you are feeling the power of this and the inspiration to do so.  Anything and everything, big or small, enables this beauty.  Sacrifice for the dream of a single child.

Go forth and welcome blessings!  They pine for your love!

Brian


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“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

~ Oscar Wilde ~

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§ One Response to Tricky Chic

  • Amy says:

    Crying crying crying, tears of joy, and whatever else is that makes us tear up when we think of the kids and the magic that surrounds them. Oh and not to mention imagining what your mom must have felt when she saw you. I could see the whole thing playing out like a movie as you were describing it. THAT is a moment I am sure you will hold onto for a lifetimes. So many great things are happening Brian. You are very much a part of why. The children are so blessed as is your mother.
    Miss you my new friend.
    Amy

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