It started as an idea, a crazy idea, shared over drinks at a posh golf club house in one of those leafy suburbs. My Rotary Club, the super cool (and most liiiit of course), Rotary Madaraka had always wanted to start their own Rotaract Club but in its seven years of existence, this was just but a pipe dream.
It’s a Monday evening in the cold July season and three gentleman are enjoying their chilled drinks at the terrace . We had just finished our #MadarakaMondays fellowship and is customary, we always sat in the club house for some drinks and tasty samosas. I was still a new inductee of the club and was familiarizing myself with the ways of the club, but long before I joined the club I had burning need – help my club get a baby finally. And this chilly evening, the idea, just like the embryo, led to the conceptualization of a baby. And not just any other baby, but a Rotaract Club sponsored by Teke Teke.
But long before that cold evening, a number of attempts had been made to bring forth an offspring of the Rotary Club of Nairobi Madaraka. While still a Rotaractor, I was engaging two institutions of great repute in this great city to allow me and some of my Rotarians begin the process of setting up a club in their institutions. One of the institutions was positive at first but on following up on an already confirmed meeting appointment, the trail went called. Emails went unresponded and constant blueticks became a clear communique of we’re no longer interested. The second institution, well, never got to give us audience to present our idea to them. With these two failed attempts, I started doubting myself on my capability of delivering a baby for my new Rotary home.
And just when I was about to give it all up and focus on my other new role in the club, three gentlemen met at the terrace and forth, Madaraka had conceived! My then president, IPP Henry called me at the wee of the night (obviously he was still at the club house with the rest of the gang) and delivered the news. My immediate task – organize for a meeting that week with the prospective Rotaractors, introduce to them fully what Rotary and Rotaract are all about, help them draft a name for the club et cetera! I had been sound sleep but that news dashed any hopes of getting back to the sweet dream I was having. From the brief I got that night, my mind sprung into action and I got the perfect name for this baby – Rotaract Club of University of Nairobi – Afya
Who are UON-Afya?
Before settling on UON Afya, I had tried a number of possible names for this baby – UON Med School, UON UpperHill, UON Kenyatta – but none of these really represented who UON Afya was going to become. So who is UON Afya? Just like any other Rotaract Club, they’re a group of 18-30-year-old lads and lasses who’ve come together to develop themselves professionally and to inspire the society around them through the mantra Service Above Self. But what’s unique about Afya (as we all have come to call them) is that they’re all Medical School students of the University of Nairobi. Most of them are 3rd and 4 years students and a few in 2nd, 5th & 6th years of Med School.
The Coming to Birth…
The idea of setting up UON Afya began in October 2018 and the journey since then has been both exciting and challenging. 98% of these ‘Rotary newbies’ had never interacted with Rotary before and thus required more dedication to teach them all about Rotary and Rotaract, some of our members would attend quite a number of their weekly fellowships to train them and teach them how to conduct fellowships/meetings.
In the journey to the charter of Afya, we did have loads of fun. They joined us in December for my chapati forum, an event I host every year at Streetnizers’ Rescue Center and in March 2019 for a book distribution exercise in Nyeri, Kirinyaga & Embu Counties, and thereafter an after-party in one of Embu’s hypest clubs. I even got to host them – the whole lot of them in my folk’s tiny crib.
August 3rd will forever be a momentous day, not only to me but to UON Afya and Rotary Madaraka. Our baby was officially born and was no longer going to be referred to as Rotaract UON Afya (in-formation). It was a day that everyone had been looking forward to for almost a year and now that it was here, you could clearly see the excitement in everyone. We started planning for this event with the Rotaractors about three weeks to the event and every day I’d get the shivers if we’d pull a great event with the limited time at hand. This is where the true spirit of Rotary networking came into play. UON Afya wanted a retro-themed barbeque luncheon but they had no single clue of where to host the event. A quick call to my good old friend Rotarian Muthoni landed us Westwood Hotel in the leafy Westlands suburbs, part of the Superior Hotels chains.
At about 5.45pm Rotary Madaraka went into labor. It was time to deliver the baby, and the midwife (read DGE 🙈🏃♂️) was on standby to bring forth this new offspring. And after a few push and push, Rotaract UON Afya was officially born.
Ululations rang the air, welcoming the newest baby into the Rotary family. And is customary, with every birth comes forth some merry-making and enjoying the night.