The history of Cultivate doesn't start with the launching of our programs, or even when I received that first piece of official paperwork. It goes back further than that. Though Cultivate International was started in early 2016, the idea for it came to me in 2010 while I was sitting on a patio in Nairobi, Kenya. I had just finished my Masters of International Development, and was in deep thought about the difficulties that I was seeing in Kenya, all around me. An idea came to me, and it looked like this.
That image stuck with me for the next few years, but I wasn't really sure what it would lead to. I began to see that all the communities that I would visit and work in, there were always a few things in common.
- The "charity" that was being given was almost always at the hands of privileged outsiders, not community insiders.
- There were always leaders within these communities that were compelled to do more, but often felt stuck or ill-equipped.
I began to question these things. Why did communities that struggled with poverty and injustices have to wait for an outsider to come in with what they needed? How was this connected to a community's unfortunate history with oppression and colonialism? What prevented a community from taking the reins of its own growth and future? And if there were leaders that were ready and willing to do something, why did they see themselves as stuck or ill-equipped?
As time passed, the idea for Cultivate began to take form. I learned that for anyone to do something successfully, three things must be in place:
- This person needs to have the necessary skills or understanding to do whatever he or she wished to do.
- This person must have the necessary resources to accomplish his or her goal.
- This person must surround him or herself with people who can help. Very little in life is accomplished truly with no help from others. Community is a must.
I began to see the potential that each community and each person has. Potential, that if fueled by passion, could accomplish more than anyone could imagine.
And this is how the idea for Cultivate was birthed - that if a passionate person could access skills, resources, and people, this person could accomplish so much. He or she could be the change-maker that their community needs.
Fast forward to 2015, and I now knew that Cultivate needed to become a reality. This was my passion that I could not contain. I started to build the skills and understanding that I needed, and surrounded myself with people who would help me access the resources and support that I knew were crucial. Within months, Cultivate International was a reality.
Since the very beginning, I have been able to take credit for very little of what Cultivate is becoming and the impact that we are having. People have given generously to Cultivate - of their resources, of their talents, of their networks, and of their encouragement. Almost always, our needs are filled unexpectedly in surprising and miraculous ways. There is a momentum to our mission that others are catching on, and it fills me with so much joy. I know that there is so much in store for our future, and I cannot wait to see what's around the corner!
Now the question is - how will you join this movement?
- Elaine Tymchak
Founder & Executive Director