New Beginnings – Maisha Iko Sawa is a facility that supports people with developmental disabilities in one of the largest slums in the world, located in Kibera, Kenya. Our mission is to identify and empower each individual’s unique talents and abilities. We achieve this by improving their self-esteem and self-worth through the power of education, community integration, and a focus on daily living skills.
In 2012, we traveled to Kenya with the goal to volunteer and give back. We recognized that those living in the slums with disabilities were in need, and we were inspired to help! With the cooperation of the locals and an understanding of how a program for this population would create a long-term difference amongst the students and their families, an idea blossomed into what we now call, “New Beginnings – Maisha Iko Sawa.”
We are a US registered 501(c)(3) non-profit which caters to individuals with disabilities and is always looking to grow as we reach out to this unique population globally. As for now, NB is currently offering education, community inclusion, and daily living skills to those solely living in Kibera. As we gain speed with our newfound non-profit status, our overall goal is to reach out and help other organizations with similar needs in countries all over the world.
With your help we can enrich the lives of those with special needs by focusing on their abilities, rather than their disabilities. We kindly accept funding from individuals, businesses, and fundraising events. Thank you for your support!
This story began in 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. Four of us set out to Africa with one common thing in mind- To do our part and give back to humanity. Little did we know that this would lead us on a journey that would turn out to be a beautiful, life changing event for us and for so many others!
After about a week, it was clear that Kibera was the place where everyone was drawn to. We quickly took to the streets to meet local individuals to discuss the need that they felt would best benefit their community. It didn’t take long to discover that those living in the slum with developmental disabilities were those who our hearts were determined to help. Our goal was to create a safe learning environment so that they would have a place where they could learn and grow.
After brainstorming for ideas for a name, we decided on “New Beginnings – Maisha Iko Sawa.” “New Beginnings” represents a new beginning in each of our students’ and their family’s lives and Maisha Iko Sawa, which means, “Life is Good,” in Swahili, fuses the beloved Kenyan native tongue.
With the help of so many friends, we were able to locate a building to rent. However, it needed some major TLC! Within two weeks and roughly around $800 USD, our school was becoming a reality!
So, here we are- Almost 7 years later and we are thrilled with the progress that we’ve made! We have had incredible people come and go over the years, with each interaction making us stronger and more complete as a whole. We strive to continue to spread the message of love, compassion, and togetherness, always!
Our Board of Directors
Kellie was born and raised in Southern California, where she graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies. She continued her education at a private nursing university and is now a licensed Registered Nurse. Kellie worked in Bocas Del Toro, Panama, working with a non-profit called, “Floating Doctors.” She worked as a nurse and volunteer coordinator before she made her way back state side to pursue her career as a RN. Kellie currently is a Travel Nurse spreading her love and empathy for others all over the United States, where she is contracted in a new hospital every 3 months. Her love for helping others was stemmed in her upbringing, as her family owns and operates a day program for adults with developmental disabilities. She has been working with the population of special needs for over 10 years now! Kellie started New Beginnings – Maisha Iko Sawa back in 2012 along with her two friends, Nick and Jasmine, and her mother Ronda.
Nick’s home resides in the land down under, Manley, Australia. From a young age he knew that staying put in one place was not his cup of tea. Shortly after gradating high school in 2008, he set off to Canada to work for about nine months. Then shortly after, he took an adventure to Mexico, and at this point, there was no turning back. Nick knew that he was happiest when traveling and helping people. He globe trotted for a couple more years and then found himself in Africa doing humanitarian work. Here is where he found that his happiness was at its highest, and he made it a point to continue to be of service to others.
Pete was born and raised in rural Wisconsin before moving to the sunny West Coast of California. He has spent 10 years as a graphic designer and he is currently working as a freelance graphic designer and photographer while traveling through the United States. Pete has used his talents working with non-profits in Haiti, Central America, and Africa developing non-profit websites and documenting their stories through his photographs. Naturally being from Wisconsin, he is a lover of cheese, so making people smile comes second nature to Pete!
Ai is a Registered Nurse from Canada, who has primarily worked in cardiac nursing for the last ten years. She has training in wilderness medicine, tropical nursing, and advanced critical care nursing. While studying international development during her first years of university, she developed a love for different languages, cultures, and people, which led her to start traveling extensively. Her recent volunteer experiences in Panama, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, and Nepal has affirmed her interest and passion in learning about and continuing her path in humanitarian and development efforts. She hopes to explore programs and organizations to bridge them with and cultivate New Beginnings.
James was born in Nairobi, Kenya. He has been an active member in the community of Kibera for many years now with the Non-Profit Organization called NVS. NVS works on placing volunteers in programs in Kibera, like New Beginnings. James has been a part of New Beginnings from the start of the school. He is a natural born humanitarian and has received his college degree in social work. He is the glue to New Beginnings and he works very hard to continue this dream of aiding to those with disabilities in Kibera. We are all so very thankful for James and his hard work!