In Memory of Nicole Makena Stewart and the mountain we climbed!

Today I woke up and mosied into my day after my hot lemon & apple cider vinegar drink and personal yoga practice.  I had quite a lot to do today as I am heading off to the lakes in the morning again for a Styled Photoshoot, so I was ready to tackle the to-do list early doors!  First up was to get cracking on a bumper blog post about our amazing friend Lee’s completion of the Tour De France circuit a couple of weeks ago.   I fired up LR and off I went, editing and choosing the final cut of images….It was going well…

I often have Facebook open in the bottom corner and happened to click on it to see I had a message from Mimi (Myriam) from Quebec City but whom I met in Kenya.  Almost simultaneously I seen a post from our good friend Marcus.  I looked on disbelievingly at the posts to see that Nicole, one of the first people I hooked up with before and during my time in Kenya had passed away.  Nicole, from Western Australia was still at University – I don’t know her exact age but she was very young, beautiful and vibrant.  What a shock.  I had been in touch with Nicole (and Myriam) long before I ever set foot on Kenyan soil through the IVHQ Facebook Group – which was set up to help you make contact with people you would meet whilst volunteering in a new country.  I was quite taken by Nicole’s enthusiasm and outright positive energy from the very outset!

So I landed on Kenyan soil and on day two I went to the induction day for all the ‘newbie’ volunteers.  There I would meet Nicole Makena Stewart, Erin Wade, Dannyi Berry and Marcus Gregar-Rive.  Now many of you know all about Marcus, but they stood up in front of us and shared their vision and passion for supporting the children, young people and community in KCC Slums in Naivasha.  I was blown away by the work they had done in the short couple of months they had been there and they had big plans!  And I don’t need to tell you just how big.  KCC Slum Project is what it is today thanks to the drive, commitment and passion of these guys in the early days.  Some of you will know that Marcus is still there today managing this astounding project, but Nicole was one of the founders and continued to support the project through fund and awareness raising (even right up until last week!)

So my admiration and friendship grew with these guys, and in November 2009 JP Martel, Nicole and I decided to go off on a pretty big adventure together.  We would scale the heights of Mount Kenya at 4985metres over 4 days…it was going to be a HUGE challenge for me (particularly when I was going out with these 2 fit young whippersnappers!)  but we were up for it!

I am not sure if I have published many of these photos previously, but I felt that this was a good way to celebrate Nicole’s incredible life, to show her in a country she had great compassion for, whilst taking a bit of time out to do something a bit different for herself.  She gave of herself tirelessly in ways that many of us will never know about, such was her character.  A real symbol of hope and compassion.

So here is my visual tour of the mountain we climbed together, both metaphorically and figuratively, Kenya had a profound affect on all of us.  RIP Nicole, the night sky has one more bright shining star in it now. x


We did it…we made it to the top!  For me…just, but for these two it looked like a walk in the park.  I was lucky to share this experience with them both.  Tomorrow will be another day but today is for a moment of reflection and it’s a timely reminder that life is short and it’s in this moment.  Carpe Diem!

We all have a story to tell.  This is a moment in time of Nicole’s, dedicated to her family and friends, who may never have seen her on her journey up Mount Kenya with us.  She is one very special young lady.

So I will finish off with a little favourite of hers…

I am with you still, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not think of me as gone –

I am with you still,
In each new dawn.

– Native American Prayer

Sending my heartfelt thoughts to Nicole’s family and friends around the world, Jacqui x


11 thoughts on “In Memory of Nicole Makena Stewart and the mountain we climbed!

  1. Thanks I am friends with her mother Jackie. It must be a hard thing to accept. Luckily there are beautiful things to remember the young by so thanks for sharing…

    • Thank you Karen, I was privileged to meet and spend time with Nicole. My heartfelt thoughts are with Jackie and her family at this time. Take care, Jacqui

  2. sorry to hear of such a young loss, a wonderful tribute from yourself, thanks for sharing this with us. I like the picture of her laying on the ground in front of the mountain I see a face looking back at her.

    • Yes Jadie, it’s so sad but this young lady touched so many many lives in her short time with us! She was truly gorgeous inside and out. I love that photo too and hadn’t ever seen a face, but looking again I think I can see what you mean. What an amazing trip we had.

  3. Absolutely beautiful, thank you so much for sharing this, may she feel the love of our prayers close to her heart xxxx

  4. I am very moved and inspired by reading your piece. Thank you for taking the time to share with us your journey with Nicole up the mountain. She is now in the arms of the Angels, no doubt bringing them joy and inspiration. May she continue to blaze like the sun throughout the universe. with love Anandanetti

  5. It is a joy to see these photos. Nicole was a part of my life from when she was a young child, when I was asked by her Dad to babysit her and her young brother. I came to love her and have been inspired by her on many an occasion. I would love to contribute enthusiasm, joy and commitment for the rest of my life as a tribute to her amazing ability to portray these qualities to me over so many years. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti and Namaste, Beloved soul sister. Ananta Ma / Lyn Webb

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