Last December, I received a somewhat cryptic email that simply said, "This is Peter in Africa. I would like to tie flies for your business." Normally, I would quickly hit the delete button on my keyboard, but my wife Jackie and I had just returned from a trip to Africa the previous June, and our eyes were opened to the poverty, the lack of opportunity, and the individual struggle to scrape together a livelihood in the midst of some of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Instead of deleting the message, I responded, and we began an internet dialogue that led to my placing an order for two dozen streamers, making a payment for the order through Paypal, and then contemplating the idea that that I have just been taken for sixty bucks.
From the beginning of our conversation, I knew that my chances of my ever seeing flies from Peter in Africa was slim, but what the heck - I was willing to take the chance. Considering the possibility that Peter was indeed legit and looking for a way to improve his station in life, I was going to place an order. Two days later, Peter emailed me again, explaining that he could not get the hooks or some of the materials for the flies that I was asking him to tie. My inclination was to pull the plug and cut my losses, but once again I went for it, ordered the materials and hooks and had them mailed to his address in Kenya.
Weeks went by, and I thought about the flies, Peter and Africa. I had accepted the idea that I had simply made a financial contribution to someone on another continent. Maybe this was a fly tier in Africa and maybe not. Maybe the materials I sent would make it through Customs and maybe they wouldn't. It was anyone's guess.
At the end of February, I received a small package of excellent hand-tied flies from Kenya, along with a hand-written note from the owner of a small tying enterprise called Hope Flies. Apparently Peter ties for Hope Flies, and Josphat Makokha, the owner had the goal to build this business in a quest to improve the lives of those around him. This is the handwritten letter I received from Josphat:
My name is Mr. Josphat, owner of Hope Flies Kenya and supplying of high quality fishing flies. On behalf of Mr. Peter Thuku, he introduced me to you with small fly order of Balden Streamer and
asked me to tie for you and appreciate this business with you. I have tied and send to you, so let
us cooperate together and I hope will continue working together with you. I had no tying
instruction so check and see if I have done right. Waiting your replies soon.
Nice day. Josphat Makokha
Kenya's 40% unemployment rate and 25% illiteracy rate prompted Makokha to seek an independent vehicle by which they could build a business unconstrained by the economic and educational features of his home country. His goal was to train village locals to tie flies, and through simple online marketing and direct contact, they would strive to supply fisherman from around the world. The name Hope Flies serves their vision to improve the lives of their community.
He sent me the link to a YouTube video. Once I viewed it, I was in for another order whether I needed the flies or not. This time, they had all of the materials they needed. Make no mistake, I am not going to see these flies for a month or two, and that is okay. Frankly, I like tying my own flies, and I do a pretty good job of it. Anyone fishing with Dragonfly Fishing Guides will be fishing flies tied by Andrew and Dan. Although now, flies might also be tied by Peter, Josphat or any of the other 12 villagers employed by Hope Flies. He told me that his goal is to find enough fly-tying world-wide, that he can employ 30 locals.
Check out the video. Maybe you need a few extra in your own box. Especially if you also believe that Hope Flies.
Hope Flies Kenya Co.
P.O. Box 365-00502
Karen - Nairobi