In 1999 Jane Newman was traveling from Nairobi, Kenya to Addis Abba, Ethiopia. Near the village of Sereolipi, the Landrover Jane was in broke down. The Samburu people generously took her in, hosting her with a great deal of kindness over the next few days.

 Jane discovered that the Samburu had a very simple dream: they wanted more of their children to go to school.but their poverty made this unattainable. The Samburu knew education would be their key to survival in the twenty-first century, and a chance to attend school would create lasting change in the lives of their children. 

The following year, Jane retired from advertising and in 2001 returned to Sereolipi to stay for a month. If money was the only obstacle to a basic education, Jane knew she had power to find like-minded supporters to raise funds in the U.S. and Europe to help the Samburu. In 2002, Jane helped establish the Sereolipi Nomadic Education Trust.

Back in America she saw Clodagh and they raised enough money at their first fundraiser to cover the very first preschool. Their friends formed the core of the initial group. Jane met Linda when they were both at The Hat Shop wearing Samburu bracelets. John Fraley offered to be the Treasurer and Lori to manage the brand identity, Whitney Tilson read an article in the NY Times and he and Ciccio started the scholarship program. Gerard knew Kenya well and helps there. We have over 500 members of our tribe here. 

In 2002, the first preschool class was held under an thorny acacia tree and The Thorn Tree Project was born.