Happy Holidays from Lightup Impact

Kate Keller, December 2021

This time of the year again – streets come alive with bright colourful lights, sparkling garlands of all shapes and sizes gracefully hang off almost every surface and greet you as a best friend. Despite these difficult times, you can still hear laughter, chatter and carols singing. The fresh piney smell follows you wherever you go. Every time when I pass by dazzling street illuminations, as in childhood, my heart skips a beat in anticipation of magic and miracles, it grows with excitement and fills up with joy and hope that everything will be alright. My thoughts instantly carry me back to the past and evoke memories of family gatherings – priceless moments of sharing food, playing games, and opening gifts. 

In my country, the biggest holiday is the day of a new year. We always had a late dinner on the New Year’s Eve; and although my parents were not wealthy, my favourites were always on the table: an Olivier salad and tangerines (I was born in the Soviet Union, we saw tangerines only during the holidays season). My family also had a tradition – at midnight, we dialled a random number, and I wished a very Happy New Year to a person on the other side. I still remember my old phone: it was a red rotary dial landline telephone. You know, one with a finger wheel and if you misdial, you can’t just delete a wrong digit, but you have to start from the beginning. It was a big deal back then because not everyone had a phone at home. So people were actually happy being “cold called” a couple of decades ago. 

Photo by Activate Action

A couple of years ago, I happened to be in New York during this time of the year. They say that the city never sleeps, but during the holiday period it impressed me with even more incredible lighting displays and a variety of special events. The shopping fever was at its peak, too. Crowds of people were walking in hurry, everybody seemed to mind their own business without taking care of one another. I was proven wrong. I witnessed a woman, hurrying like everyone else, suddenly stopped in front of a homeless person and, smiling, gave him a present in a colourful paper. He quickly unwrapped it, and I could see that it was woollen socks. The man smiled so broadly as this gift not only brought the warmth for his feet, but also the balm for his soul. Such a small act of kindness, so simple, but so powerful in its beauty. 

Photo by Nareto Latia

Photo by Girlkind Kenya

Woollen socks are also a very practical gift indeed. Unfortunately, it cannot solve all problems, or sometimes be of any use at all – especially in countries that are warm all year round, like East Africa. There, people struggle with the increased poverty rate, high rates of unemployment, lack of education, steady food and clean water. According to USAID, “East Africa is [also] affected by a wide range of climatic shocks and stressors, including droughts, floods, heatwaves, pests and diseases, among others”. Women suffer even more due to the historical patriarchal nature of the society. As reported by East African Community, “despite constituting over 60 percent of the EAC population, [women] are still marginalised in the decision-making processes and have limited access to education, finance, information and communication technologies in comparison to their male counterparts”. Nearly a third of women carry deep-rooted scars of gender-based violence – scars of abuse, sexual harassment, child marriage and/or domestic violence. During the pandemic the situation has intensified under lockdowns – “a 48% increase in the Gender-Based Violence cases reported to the Police or through the GBV Toll-Free lines”.


The world is not without kind-hearted people who wish to help others and see a change for the better in East Africa. There are several social organisations that fight gender, health, and education inequalities. Unfortunately, most of them are still early-stage, and that is why they lack visibility and credibility needed to make a real impact. We at Lightup Impact support the founders of these organisations in their changemaker journey to reach their goals, become sustainable, and accelerate growth. Lightup Impact is a networking, educational and social platform. It is a community for early-stage social entrepreneurs with shared values and goals. Here you can find testimonails from the Lightup Impact community.


We build new partnerships to help underrepresented voices, empower women, improve their health, and give them access to education. I strongly believe that this will not only enable better life for women but will also lead to successful achievement of overall development goals in East Africa because every human being will work together towards the same goal. 



Here you can learn how you personally can contribute to the cause and so begin a journey of positive impacts. Let us do magic together! 



Happy Holidays 😊

Photo by Girlkind Kenya

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