Our History

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Jocelyn Land-Murphy and Jessica Lax met in Kenya in January of 2002, when they were both 21 and studying sustainable development in a traveling field school. Like so many others, their experiences left them overwhelmed with the inequality between life in North America and the lives of many Kenyans.

They were sickened by the excess that prevailed in their home country, and by the blinders that they, and their fellow citizens, had in place – blinders to inequality in resource allocation and to the global effects of their consumer society.

Not surprisingly, they felt powerless as individuals to change such extensive problems – until they sought their own solutions by bringing it down to a personal level. They began to alter their own lifestyles to reflect the change they wanted to see in the world. And with each small action they took, their hopelessness turned to hope.

These two young women began to dream of the impacts that could result should this mindset of conscious choices spread amongst Canada's youth. Thus, on February 16, 2002, on a beautiful sunny day in Kitale, Kenya, the Otesha Project was created, so named after the Swahili word “Otesha” meaning “reason to dream.”

Almost two years after the first Otesha dream sprouted under a tree in Kenya, it became a reality halfway around the world on October 10, 2003. On this date, the first thirty-three members of the Otesha Project completed their incredible 164-day bicycling & presenting venture across Canada, having made over 250 presentations to more than 12,000 young people across the country! Since that first project, the Otesha Project has only continued to grow, organizing new and fresh bike tours, theatre presentations, workshops, youth engagement activities, and much more!

Today, all of Otesha’s activities aim to inspire a revolution in the way we see the world and our role in it. And we don’t just mean a teeny, tiny spark – we are talking about a full-on community bonfire: a mega-sustainable revolution, ecologically funky, overflowing with passion and creativity! As Oteshites, we believe that no world-changing action can be complete without a huge dose of fun – the most essential ingredient of all.

"We are completely overwhelmed by the generosity, support, and shared hope of Canadians in making the Otesha dream a reality. The project is indeed as grassroots as it gets, and without all of your help, we may have given up long ago. We are forever grateful. Thank you!" 

- Jessica and Jocelyn