Posts / May 16, 2011

Discovering New Oceans

André Gide once said, that ‘man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore’. I’ve come to realize the truth in this statement; the best opportunities are often followed by taking a leap of faith into the unknown and having the courage to step outside one’s comfort zone. Fear often prevents us from making that leap but if you can embrace the uncertainty, than good things surely lie ahead.

This is very much the case for our current travels. I write this post on route to Nairobi, where my wife and I will be living for the next four months. Having used what little money we had saved to pay for our flights and with no apartment in which we’ll be living, we’re definitely stepping outside our comfort zone. I was in Rwanda last February, however this will be the first time my wife has travelled to Africa. Many of our friends have asked us why Kenya, why Africa. The simple answer; it’s the right place for us to be right now.

Africa is experiencing the world’s fastest rate of cell phone adoption, with Kenya quickly becoming a hub for mobile innovation. Nairobi is a hotspot for mobile tech with the iHub (co-working space established by Erik Hersman the co-founder of Ushahidi) at the very heart of this mobile revolution. I’m incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be working from this space and be surrounded by these talented African developers.

While there, I’ll be continuing to do the same work that I’ve been doing for Ushahidi and GVFI, but expecting good synergy from working at the iHub. April will also be hanging out at the co-working space but using her time to pursue some of her own personal interests. We brought along a large duffle of used shoes which we’ll be donating on behalf of Brainsport to the Kip Keino running camp in Eldoret. During the summer we’re hoping to travel to Cameroon to field test the mobile app I’ve been developing and also re-visit the Gitwe hospital in Rwanda. We’re also both excited to just be living in Nairobi long enough for a local perspective; you don’t really get a good feel for a city until you start doing your own laundry and buying groceries at the market.

As our plane descends towards Nairobi there is still a lot of unknowns, but I’m excited for what lies ahead.