Karen’s first trip to Malawi, Africa was in 2008. She loved working with the kids, and teaching them new sports. She saw an immediate growth in confidence and empowerment through the week and soon recognized her desire to find a way to continue encouraging kids through active play. Kusewera was created out of that passion. She enjoys combining travel, active play and volunteerism. When you mix Karen’s desire to keep kids active with her love for the kids in Malawi, you get Kusewera! Her hope is to empower these kids, giving them the support and encouragement to grow as positive individuals and become strong leaders in their community. Kusewera took a team to the Philippines in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Karen manages the team at Kusewera Village and its US committee and organizes the volunteer trips.
Karen is also the Director of Booking and Office Director for the Sports + Lifestyle Unlimited Los Angeles division, providing sports, fitness and lifestyle models for various projects. She handles the day to day operations of the LA office along with securing and negotiating print, commercial and Influencer collaborations for her team to fulfill.
Growing up, she was a 3-sport athlete and has continued her love for being active by enjoying a variety of sports such as running, yoga and hiking.
Question: Is Kusewera a religious organization or connected to a specific church? Why or why not?
When starting Kusewera, I wanted to be sure to involve people from all walks of life. I believe everyone has something to teach and share, no matter their background, faith or life’s journey. There are various limitations to certain categories in the non-profit sector that I did not want to impose on our mission. As such, Kusewera is not a religious non-profit nor connected to a specific church. I am a Christian, our board members happen to be Christians and many of our committee members and volunteers are as well. Other valuable committee members and long-term volunteers are not, but all are full of love and have a strong belief in the mission of Kusewera, with amazing insight to share. I specifically noted in our policies that we do not tolerate hate, prejudice or words and acts of discrimination or language that supports anything of the like. Promoting an ideology that doesn’t encourage unity and inclusion is prohibited. I firmly believe that no matter what ones faith is.
Malawi is predominately a Christian country at 52%, with 19% Catholics, 12% Muslims and 17% categorized as other. We have always welcomed Christian groups and pastors who want to schedule activities such as lead a bible study, vacation bible school or other faith based activities. No volunteer is required to participate but all are encouraged to join in when interested! A lot of the cultural songs the kids and adults sing in the villages are faith-based. Many Malawians have Christian beliefs that lean conservative. Kusewera aims to observe a more conservative perspective out of respect, when conducting programs and activities for both the children and adults we serve.