The Power of Preservation

This month at LEAF, we are thinking more about cultural preservation. Throughout the year, we spend a lot of time thinking about points of connection and opportunities for growth. At every turn, we are met with the human desire to stand on our own foundation. Rick Warren once said, “We are products of our past,” and with that sentiment, the only way forward is to know the direction from which we came. Not just space and time, but the texture and culture that characterizes it. Cultural preservation is crucial to human survival and is at the core of LEAF’s mission. Since launching in 2006, LEAF International has touched over 4100 youth in 11+ countries. In 2020, we had 14 programs in 10 countries and empowered 22 culture keepers across the globe to work with 550+ kids on a weekly basis. Keeping culture alive and is more than just storytelling. It’s documenting and studying languages, traditions, and ceremonies. It’s encouraging the use of indigenous languages and rituals. It’s creating a desire for longevity and offering the youth a chance to lean into themselves, learn from their roots, and become walking testaments to their ancestors’ greatest dreams. Our Global Engagement Director, Schree Chavdarov says that “we learn more about ourselves when we experience and are aware of other cultures. That is the true purpose of global citizenship” and at the foundation of what LEAF aims to bring to the world. The first step to building community and connecting culture is to ensure that when people come to the table, they bring an offering that’s true to their core.

Mayani is a Maasai boy from longido Arusha. He went to boarding school at 6 years old and lost his Maasai language and tradition. Since joining the LEAF program, he has learned to sing Maasai songs, practiced the ‘jump’ tradition and wear Maasai shukas (traditional clothing). Mayani is extremely happy and is currently teaching other youth the culture.