A Short History of Naomi
I found Naomi Nagi sitting in a tea shop alone. She was curled up in a chair, mug in hand just watching people pass by on the street. For someone who doesn’t call Dar Es Salaam home, she sure looked like it was. The ease with which she ordered in Swahili, a language she said she had never learned before coming here, was remarkable. It put me to shame as I struggled with even the most basic phrases, even after five years.
But I didn’t come to talk tea with Naomi. We were meeting to discuss her charitable work. Something both of us were hesitant to do, given how readily such pieces can become fluff or illustrative of how little the cause celebre may know regarding the intricacies of the work. Naomi is not, she’s one to think about every little phrase she utters or brand she works with. It may not be immediately apparent from this interview, but that’s because it was edited for brevity and clarity. What’s ultimately missing are the long periods of reflection Naomi took to determine the best course of action.
Can we talk charity?
We can, but I’d prefer if we didn’t call it charity.
Okay, is the a better term?
Undoubtedly. It’s using the platform I’ve worked for to benefit those who need it most. Granted even in saying “need” in this context I am creating a story for your readers of “haves and have-nots” or “victims and villains”. The people I work for are neither. They are people.
You’re in a position to work for the betterment of others…
Not others. All.
You’re in a position to work for the betterment of all, yet the question remains - why?
That is not the question. Or at least it shouldn’t be a question. What is so surprising about helping someone else. If we see someone fall on the street we stop to help them up. If our neighbor’s house is burning we start a bucket line. If a child is crying, we provide comfort. These are normal, every day reactions.
Why would you say otherwise? To even promote that doubt is stupid. Humanity has not achieved what it has, nor will it improve its lot, if the simple concept of assisting one’s neighbor is in jeopardy. Where we fault is in the more complex problems that don’t have swift solutions. But like the house fire there are times where we need to form a bucket line and keep at it until there is no more fire, even if all that remains is a smoking ruin. At leas then we can say we tried.
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Today’s art is courtesy of Marta Dettlaff from Krakow, Poland.