UMOJA: A Black Heritage Experience

UMOJA’s co-founder, Julie Ryno, posted this note on the UMOJA website:

When my husband and I were preparing to adopt, we had a wonderful social worker that helped us understand that adopting a child from a different culture wasn’t about what we would accept. It was about what we could offer. We learned that loving our child meant more than providing a happy home, it meant that we had to help them develop a sense of pride in their birth culture. So began our journey to Umoja.

Nine years ago, I, along with Dr. Bola Delano-Oriaran began to explore what we could offer as a heritage camp for families that looked like mine. My husband and I have two beautiful 417727_10150593215058244_1041150641_nAfrican American children. We are white. We knew that Umoja (Swahili for Unity) has to help the entire family, not just the children. So Dr. Delano and I planned programming for the entire family. Parents and children have age appropriate sessions that cover everything from how to deal with racism to celebrating the music of Africa. From the start our goal has been to give our families tools that they can incorporate into their daily lives.

One of the biggest blessings has been the friendships that have blossomed between children and families of Umoja. We have many families that have returned annually. I delight in the children’s anticipation as they wait for their Umoja friends from year’s past to arrive. Please consider joining us this year and having create some special moments for you and your children.

Take a few minutes and check out our video links. We are very proud of our teens and the video they put together two years ago. Check out our facebook page. If you have any questions, after browsing the web site, please feel free to contact me directly ( I hope you and your family with join us for this special weekend.

This year’s UMOJA is October 17-19 and will be held at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, WI. You can find more information about the weekend’s activities, schedules, directions, registration information and more on the UMOJA website.


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