Sometimes you come across stories of people completely outside of your online and offlice bubble and it just hits you. Something they say, something they stand for just moves you in a way you’re not moved that often. When Sinja’s story – which you will read below – popped up on our Facebook feeds, we knew we had to introduce her to you guys. She quit her job a few years ago, left behind her secure life in Germany and started all over again in Africa to give something back to the community. Sounds like a cliché but oh the experiences she describes are so pure and precious, I hope you feel the same way.

Hi Sinja! Please tell us more about who you are, where you’re from and what you do.

I am 26 years old and was born in Germany. Ever since I was a small child I wanted to become a teacher. I was really focussed and finished my studies early. Then I decided to quit my dream job as a teacher and moved to Kenya to help give orphaned and vulnerable children a better future. Apart from volunteering for the organisation I founded in 2014, I turned my passion for traveling into a full time job. I am managing my own tours and travel company in Kenya: Travel with Nashipae.

Your first trip to Africa was Ghana. What made you fall in love with the country?

Traveling to Ghana was my very first time I went out of Europe; I went backpacking which was also a whole new experience to me. Accessing Africa through Ghana gave me a chance to see the world from a different angle. Ghana is such a beautifully diverse country. What I will never forget is how happy the children are and how much they appreciate having access to education. After giving lessons, I spent a lot of time with the kids from the boarding school who were mostly orphans. We played soccer until it turned dark, sat together and taught each other our mother tongues. But there’s also the the breathtaking landscape; the overhelming wildlife; the beautiful white sandy beaches and the African mentality that made me turned me into a more reflected and positive person.

That sounds beautiful. In what way did your trip change your life?

Traveling to Africa has changed my life completely. I’ve always asked myself whether I was meant to live in Africa.  The desire and curiosity to explore other African countries grew every day. Back home in Germany, I could only think about going back to explore more of Africa.

When I first went to Kenya in 2014, I just planned on volunteering at the local school and traveling through the country. A few days in, I hung out so much with the children on the streets. Even without understanding speaking each other’s language, we found a way of communicating. Just being with them touched my heart. Seeing children smile, seeing their grace and their faith in God and the future without even having a place to sleep or a warm meal. That made me think about how I can support them. Today we successfully run a day care center for orphans in the biggest slum in Thika, Kenya. The kids gave me a reason to work harder and to be more focused on what is important in life.

What are the big differences between your old and your new life? What impact has living in Kenya made with on your personality?

I am making my dreams come true, the dreams I didn’t even know existed. The funny thing is that since my childhood I’ve always wanted to teach in Germany. But Africa has shown me that there is more in this world for me. I discovered myself and found true happiness. Kenya gives me all the opportunities in life. The mission is to keep challenging myself and to not plan on where or how far I will have come in a few years. When I think about Germany, I miss my family and friends, but there is no way for me to return to my old lifestyle.

Back then, I feel caged and limited in my opportunities. Now I wake up with new ideas on how to continue with my further education or how to grow my business or where to travel next. Of course sometimes I’m worried about living a life in uncertainty. I don’t have financial security and won’t get a pension. But I believe that if you really want to break out of the system you have to change your way of thinking and start to think positive, because there will be always a way. You just have to work hard.

You have your own company called Travel with Nashipae: What exactly do you do there?

What I do is what I do best. After traveling for more than four years in Kenya, I turned my passion into a job. My tours and travel company organizes all kind of safaris and beach holidays in Kenya. So if you want to travel to Kenya, I can help you spend the perfect time in Kenya. What really mattered to me was that whatver business I would eventually have, I want to keep supporing my organisation as well. So now, a certain amount of the profit of Travel with Nahsipae goes directly to the organisation and I can finally give other travellers the chance I got: To volunteer and to make a difference in other people’s lives and their own.

What does a typical day look like for you?

If I am not with my clients on safari, my typical day starts with coffee in my home office. From there I plan my goals for the day. I work from 8 until lunchtime. Right now I’m particularly focussing on marketing. This also includes online courses to improve my skills. In the afternoon, I mostly work with the manager of our non-profitable organisation Jiamini CBO. My role as director is to supervise the staff and to improve and develop new or ongoing projects.

Where does the name Nashipae comes from?

During my journey and traveling, I got the chance to live within a Maasai tribe. The experiences I made there will last for a lifetime. I experienced a lifestyle far from modernisation, without running water or electricity. But their traditions fascinated me. I got the Maasai name Nashipae as a gift from the tribe, the name describes a person who is always smiling. To honour that gift and to always remember this wonderful adventure my company got the name: Travel with Nashipae.

Do you have any advice for people who are itching to start all over in Africa like you did?

The only advice I can give is to listen to your heart. Do what your heart tells you because it always says the truth. There are no Do’s or Don’ts in this world. Everything is possible. If you don’t try you will never become the person you were meant to be and live the life you were meant to live.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and keep up the great work, dear Sinja!

All photos by Sinja Stötzner