Since I started this blog in June of 2017, the most popular question is as follows: what/who is Namayani?
To answer this common inquiry, I must digress.
The year of 2016 held many ups and downs for me, but most importantly, it was the first year I had ever ventured outside of the country without family. Previously, I had been to Mexico and Canada, but first of all, I hardly remember those trips, and secondly, I wasn’t there for the cultural experience. This being said, I left on June 13th, 2016 to a whole new continent and quite literally, the farthest I had been from home.
Since then, Tanzania, a country on the eastern coast of Africa, has held a special place in my heart. Not only was it my first international experience, but it was where I discovered culture shock, reverse culture shock, my love of traveling, new friends, but above all else, an idea of what true poverty looks like and how it affects the lives of the people and the community.
Throughout our travels we saw many amazing things, but also experienced lots of areas without adequate shelter, food, water, etc. After all, it was a volunteer trip and this devastation was expected. What I didn’t expect was how these issues would affect me and continue to affect my daily life. Upon return, I was sickened by how much us Americans (and developed world people in general) waste and how we have devalued true human connection without distraction. I took away so much from this trip and it meant the world to me.
But what does that have to do with Namayani?
In the area that we were in, there were two primary languages, Swahili and Maasai. Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to have a name that translates: Grace. Whether it be Neema (Swahili) or Graciela (Spanish), there is an easy connection with my name. However the Maasai people translate it as Namayani, which was what I was called for the remainder of my time with these wonderful people.
When I began my blog, I wanted it to emulate an experience as similar as to what felt during my travels and to honor those who inspired me to speak my mind a see the world. While my blog is in constant progress, I hope I can honor those who changed my life and document it along the way!