Helping people find a way forward.

‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are”. Ubuntu Living is a transitional living program that meets people where they’re at and provides the necessary support to help them find their way forward.

Founder and Executive Director Kenny Fikes, started the organization in 2007, after going through personal challenges that deeply impacted his life. He recognized that individuals he crossed paths with would not be successful in turning their lives around (as he had) if they didn’t have adequate resources and support to do so.

“UBUNTU ~ I am because we are!”

An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: ”UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?” Just as the kids recognized their connectedness with one another, Kenny recognized his connectedness with the people he encountered on his road to recovery and he understood the social responsibility placed before him and created Ubuntu Living. UBUNTU ~ “I am because we are”.

“A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?”

Nelson Mandela

While it’s true that Africa is a harsh place, it is also a place whose people, animals and ecosystems teach us about a more interconnected world. Nelson Mandela said that the gift of prison was the ability to go within and to think, to create within the things he most wanted for South Africa: peace, reconciliation, and harmony. Through his acts of intense open-heartedness, he became the embodiment and personification of what in South Africa is called UBUNTU: “I AM BECAUSE OF YOU.”

For me, the gift of alcoholism…