How it all began

The seeds of the Otesha Project were planted back in 2002, when two Canadians, Jocelyn Land-Murphy and Jessica Lax, met in Kenya.

At the time, they were both 21 and studying sustainable development in a traveling field school.  While there, they became overwhelmed by the inequity in living conditions between North Americans and Kenyans. They also saw some of the worst results of labour exploitation, resource over-consumption, and unfair trade with their own eyes. They felt powerless as individuals to solve such deep-rooted problems – until they brought 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 began to dream of the social change that could result if this mindset spread amongst Canada’s youth. On Feb 16, 2002, in Kitale, Kenya, The Otesha Project was created.

It became a reality on October 10, 2003, when the first 33 members of the Otesha Project completed their incredible 164-day bicycling & presenting venture across Canada. During this trip, they 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.

Fourteen years later, The Otesha Project has reached over 100,000 people in Canada with theatrical performances and workshops that inspire youth to make daily choices that reflect the kind of world they want to live in.  The organisation has been widely recognised for its innovative and creative activism, receiving the 2005 YouthActionNet award for emerging youth projects, the 2005 Tooker Gomberg Award for creative media engagement, the 2005 CAMBIO Scholarship Award for youth action against climate change, and the 2006 EECOM Award for outstanding non-profit organisation.

In 2006, the Otesha movement became international, with a collaborative cycling and art project in the Philippines, a partial translation of the Otesha Book into Japanese, and the Otesha play performed on cycle tours in Australia. And in 2007, the international movement grew even further to include Otesha UK.