My Co-driver

I have already experienced what yesterday had in store for me. The only thing on my table currently is an opportunity. A large opportunity which is anonymous. Am I too blind to see it? Tomorrow is still a mystery, it’s a journey to an unknown destination. Much has been said by others about this journey and I only have a sketchy route. I don’t know how rough the road is but from tittle-tattle, the road is like a roller-coaster with unexpected and unidentified bumps. I am not only supposed to keep time to my destination but also watch out for pot-holes, bumps and creatures crossing. More so, it’s sunny and dusty in some areas, rainy and misty in others.

I expect anything on the way nonetheless, after all I have heard a lot on this journey.

The vehicle am travelling in is faulty; no gas points on the way and therefore, I’m expected to carry relevant tools and some extra gas with me. A number of road users are drunkards and others carelessly driving which puts me at risk, a huge risk. I expect anything on the way nonetheless, after all I have heard a lot on this journey.

Being in such a dilemma can be tough. As a result of this, I get a co-driver who will help me, reason with me, share with me not only the long trip but their opinion, one who will keep me company through the entire journey.

All through this journey with a co-driver to keep me company, time and the road am travelling through are huge factors.  I have to be at my destination in good time and I have to keep in my mind all the other factors.

The co-driver has a lot of expectations which may differ from mine, opinions which will soon face a check of reality on this journey. I am therefore, expected to make decisions with the vague mapping in mind. I will have to live with their personality (personality clash, different reactions and interpretation are possible outcomes) and not the aspirations which are idealistic in nature.

It’s said that many cooks spoil the broth (cliché, right) and in this sense, I wish to have to survive with only one co-driver to avoid spoiling my broth.

In as much as I think the journey will be tough because of our different personalities, I am psyched and full of hope that my co-driver will lend a hand when there will be difficulties. There will be times when our minds crush during the numerous consultations that we will have on the way but all along there won’t lack some cooperation, healthy inter-dependency not a rubber-stamping competition.

Everything constant, I do not expect the perfect co-driver but I expect to get one who is reasonable, without any discrimination.  There is a number of qualified co-rivers who stand a chance. The exception to the above rule, however, is time. Whoever comes first, stands a great chance. The only test they have to fulfill is the ‘a reasonable man’s test”

The uniqueness in this journey is that the core driver and I are both inexperienced. This aspect makes things difficult as it leaves me with generality and not specialty in choosing the core-driver.

Who is my co-driver?

……..to be continued

Submitted by:
Ahmed Maalim- Manager, Governance & Advocacy

Oliver Barasa,”Embrace any small opportunity that comes your way.”

A Christian of strong faith, a liberal thinker, a biomedical laboratory scientist by profession working with Gertrude’s Children Hospital at Muthaiga. Besides my profession as a medic, I also actively engage in different projects with young people who are like-minded and ready to champion change in their area of influence.  I am passionate about matters leadership and governance, especially political leadership. Currently, I am a member of Young Aspirants Kenya, whose aim is to shape the political path for young people to engage in governance so that they can be able to chat their future through policy making.

Following my training at ELF, I feel renewed and transformed as a person through the informative sessions I undertook. ELF allowed me to define and understand myself. This is a milestone step which has enabled me to step out with confidence and boldness.  I was able to understand the importance of personal branding and effective communication. Before joining ELF, I had failed in interviews due to lack of communication skills but after going through the program and devoting myself to reading books, I am proficient in handling such situations.

One of the biggest reap from ELF was getting a mentor. I got a mentor who is passionate on better healthcare for our people. Currently, through my mentor’s initiative and partnerships with other consultant doctors, we are running an advocacy on health especially on the rampant cases of misdiagnosis and training people especially in rural areas on health matters.

Through ELF, I was able to join a group of young people who are passionate on policy development to address the issues concerning county government leadership. Currently, I partly help Imara Africa run a project on social accountability audits in the health sector in Kericho County. This was a success after redefining my values through ELF training and also having taken a pledge that I will use my passion to help those around me and to serve my society using my voice to speak for the voiceless.

To every young person; when life gives you a lemon, always make a lemonade out of it. Don’t let opportunities go past you, embrace any small opportunity that comes your way.

I have also recently joined Tunaweza programme, Bungoma county, where we are involved in matters of advocacy and empowering youths to participate more in governance.  I have also started a mentorship programme for young people. I resolved to use my free time to meet, chat and guide young men on self-leadership and career guiding.

Business-wise, I’m working on improving a medical clinic that I started in Bungoma. This is down to the entrepreneurial knowledge I got from ELF on how to build a brand and how to strike partnerships. In health care, I am working on setting up a facility to help mothers deliver safely and end maternal deaths.

I live by Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

To every young person; when life gives you a lemon, always make a lemonade out of it. Don’t let opportunities go past you, embrace any small opportunity that comes your way.”

 

#Never give up.

 

Failed Public Policies: A Result of Historical Marginalization

In traditional African set-up, children and women were relegated to herding and kitchen duties, while serious decisions concerning the family and community were a preserve of men, older men for that matter. One was considered a child until marriage and even then, the number of children (especially male children) and livestock, determined how much say you had in the affairs of the community. This highly patriarchal and institutionalized marginalization seems to have permeated every sector of society even to date, little wonder that women and youth, despite forming the largest constituencies in Africa, still lag behind in inclusion at the decision-making table.

While I could go ahead and give a historical account of failed policies in Kenya from independence, starting with the famous sessional paper No.10 of 1964, which effectively locked out most parts of this country from development, and even point out at the most recent Vision 2030 and Big Four Agenda. I will not belabor obvious points any further, a clear partner arises from the examples stated, the government, with total disregard for the populace, but only out of “the goodness of their hearts”, come up with well written policies, which are not implementable in our contexts. The projects are hurriedly conceived and implemented without going through the full cycle of project implementation, thereby creating loopholes for itchy fingers.

An ideal policy should not fail unless there are unavoidable circumstances like unforeseen disasters.

An ideal policy should not fail unless there are unavoidable circumstances like unforeseen disasters. The only way to explain the failure of most policies in our country is under-representation, lack of key stakeholders and lack of proper public participation. Young people are historically and frequently absent from development of national policies and programs that impact them; except as a potential source for data collection. In retrospect, other actors in the agenda-setting stage of the policy-making process like interest groups, influence policy directions to favor their interests which sometimes are not at par with public good. In other words, if the interests and thoughts of particular groups of people in the society are not addressed or accorded the necessary attention, the policy or program at hand is likely to sail.

The constitution of Kenya entrenches public participation at all levels of government planning. There however exists a gap on how to legislate and implement public participation with different agencies having their own version of it, for more effectiveness parliament must pass the public participation Act. The constitution also has several affirmative action clauses for youth, women and persons with disabilities. And whereas the political parties Act calls for the establishment of youth leagues in all parties, most these are not well structured and are poorly funded. Young people are also victims of unfair nomination rules and processes which bar them from ascending to elective positions, there is need to amend the 2013 elections Act to provide for a specified number of slots for the youth. Young people should also be included in the political party’s leadership structure.

For a policy to contribute to sustainable, inclusive and equitable development in local and global contexts, it has to meet standards for quality dimensions such as utility, feasibility, propriety, accuracy, and policy accountability. In this regard, the need to include youth and young people in policy processes raises a primary challenge for worldwide policy makers and those who commission and use policies. The pool of skilled policy experts is shallow and demands for exceed supply. It is therefore a clarion call to all government and non-governmental stakeholders to focus on training and capacity building of young and upcoming policy experts who can speak for and represent young people in public and private institutions. This action will in turn advocate for the inclusion of the voices of young people in the policy making process.

Nevertheless, in as much as political parties and other institutions need to open up to the youths, they too, should be more proactive by moving from the fringes of political parties as mere supporters and into institutions and organs that are capable of influencing policy formulation and discourse. Only then can they be engaged in high-level decision-making processes at the national level and beyond. Affirmative action policies will not come easy, young people must strategically approach every election as an opportunity to infiltrate the system.

Submitted By:

Miriam Beatrice, ABLI 2019.

What it takes to be a global citizen

One thing we can all agree to is that we live in an increasingly interdependent and interconnected world. As a result of this, all we see around us are young people starting to identify more as global citizens. Think about it for a moment, from the time your day begins to the time the sun sets, you may have interacted with several international brands already. Just analyzing from your clothing, the labels could already represent two continents or more. It could be in the food you eat every day especially the imported spices used to create that unique flavor, or even the citizenship of the people you interact with on a daily basis. It could be just through the internet whereby at the touch of a button you literally have access to the world. So really, what does it mean to be a global citizen?

There is an upcoming term that you may have heard of in ad campaigns, a company’s mission statement or when making an international scholarship application. Although we do not have a definitive definition of what global citizenship entails, there are common elements that qualify one to be a global citizen. Kathy Short, a professor in the University of Arizona’s said, “Global citizenship is a stance or perspective that we bring to our interactions across cultures. That stance is first and foremost a stance of open-mindedness and stands in contrast to narrow, self-absorbed judgments that are based in unexamined and biased assumptions about others.”

Unlike a normal citizen, a global citizen may participate in international debates on social media, cross-country forums on international policies or even sign petitions towards a given course in a different country.

When talking about a global citizen, it’s important to understand what is a global community? It refers to the connections you encounter in your individual life, the local space and the larger world. Therefore, to be a global citizen you have to be aware of your global community. Be wary of how the world works and respect different cultural and values diversity. This could be simply appreciating the diversity of different religions and sexual orientations. A global citizen, after being aware of their surroundings, takes up an active role in taking responsibility especially of their actions on both the global and local platform. It could be joining a social enterprise or conducting networking on an international scale. It’s learning to speak against social injustices and taking relevant action to make the world more sustainable and equitable. Unlike a normal citizen, a global citizen may participate in international debates on social media, cross-country forums on international policies or even sign petitions towards a given course in a different country.

In conclusion, I could say that global citizens care enough and hold themselves accountable to ensure that human rights are protected and upheld around you and all over the world.

Having this in mind, are you ready to take up that torch of global citizenship?

 

Submitted by

Sofina Merinyo,

Assistant Programs Officer-ELF. 

 

 

Daud Warsame, “A challenge can always lead to an opportunity.”

Somalia born Daud Warsame couldn’t allow his refugee status deter him from working towards his dreams. It is for this reason that he joined ELF’s Leadership and Development (LDP) program to sharpen and nurture his knowledge and abilities on impact creation. Currently, Warsame is a part time student at Southern New Hampshire University pursuing his Associate of Arts degree. Warsame is passionate about refugee issues, youth education and advocacy and it is through this that he strives to see the lives of refugees at Kakuma refugee centre, where he grew up.

Upon completion of his ELF training, Warsame was appointed as an assistant executive director of URISE Initiative for Africa, a refugee run community-based organization (CBO) that helps young people find meaning of life through skills, social and economic empowerment. It is at URISE that he uses his skills to develop and train his fellows in the organization and the camp who are not in a position to attend training at ELF.

“Challenges could sometimes be an opportunity to be great”

“At ELF, I learnt the importance of discovering oneself, contributing the betterment of others and standing up for your own rights in a peaceful way and refrain anything that are un-African such as conflict and violence.”

He credits much of his knowledge and know-how to his ELF training.

“My knowledge and skills were bettered. I also got counselling on various issues and learnt more on becoming more productive in my small space.”

Warsame believes that young people from marginalized areas have an opportunity and space in bringing change back to their communities if they are well empowered by giving availing more skill-development trainings that are highly needed in the development of young people and those in leadership.

He lives by the quote ‘Challenges could sometimes be an opportunity to be great.’

 

 

The Importance of Self-Love

To all my single friends, your WhatsApp statuses and Facebook are probably stocked with your friends ‘baes’ and various gifts that they have been showered with. Don’t let lack of a significant partner make you dread this day. So today, I want to talk about self-love. Self-love is the most important form of relationship in your life. It is genuinely accepting yourself which in return creates a strong bond in your other relationships. It is about looking after your body, mind and spirit. You’ve probably heard of “love your neighbor as you love yourself”. So, treat yourself today. Get yourself a bouquet of roses and chocolates. There’s nothing wrong with being single as you wait for what you truly deserve. Being in a relationship is not a measure of worth neither is it an achievement. You deserve to give yourself all the love so don’t be afraid to spoil yourself and shower yourself with compliments.

Self-love is about:

Accepting yourself

Self-love is the willingness to accept who you are; both the good and the bad side. It is giving yourself as much as you are willing to give to others. It provides you with inner peace and happiness that can be affected by the opinion of others. It helps you make healthier choices and decisions across all relationships in your life. Self-love lets you celebrate others and appreciate their achievements rather than being jealous.

Self-love lets you celebrate others and appreciate their achievements rather than being jealous.

Knowing your value and adhere to it

Knowing your value and self-worth means you don’t see it as a privilege when you interact with people of higher status than you are. We self-sabotage ourselves in relationships and work places because we don’t ask for what we deserve. We feel that we are lucky to work at a certain organization or have some people in our lives.  Demand to be recognized be it in work places or in romantic relationships.

Teaching others how to treat you

If you find yourself unhappy on how people are treating you, it’s time to have a meeting with yourself and do a self-check. I have learnt that we attract who and what we are. People treat us the way we let them. If people insult you, take you for granted, use you or even abuse you it’s because you let them do it. You comfortably let it slide without confronting them about their actions. Maybe because you thought they were too important and you’d lose them if you questioned their behavior. Truth is, no one is more important than yourself. Let them treat you they way you deserve otherwise show them the door.

No one in the entire universe deserves your love more than you do. Self-love is the perquisite of all form of love in your life. You can never experience true love without genuinely loving yourself first. Let go of anything that makes you believe that self-love is selfish and egocentric. Loving yourself is a win-win. It is accompanied by unmeasurable happiness and joy that no else can offer you but God. So, if nobody treated you this valentines don’t wallow in self-pity. Wake up and treat yourself to a nice meal, a movie or even do a note to self.

There’s nothing wrong with being single as you wait for what you truly deserve. Being in a relationship is not a measure of worth neither is it an achievement. You deserve to give yourself all the love so don’t be afraid to spoil yourself and shower yourself with compliments

For those in relationships, don’t get into the whirlwind of valentine’s day and forget about yourselves. Self-love is the greatest love of all. Romantic love may come and go but self-love lasts a lifetime.

HAPPY VALENTINES!

 

Submitted By:

Shalom Musyoka, Cohort 8.

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Opportunities Galore: Conserving the Environment While Saving for the Future

In 2017, William Wanjohi who was then a student leader at the Maasai Mara University, partook in a mentorship programme, Changamka, with the sole aim of improving on his public speaking skills. William, however ended up gaining more than he had anticipated in different areas.

“To me, the program was so outstanding. I came to understand my strengths and weaknesses, my personality and life measures which I had never discovered before.  My lifestyle changed, I became a new ‘me’ and the only way to shape the path was to let the things I used to do fade, break and disconnect in order to discover myself more, follow my dreams, be an ambassador and be an impact driver,” William.

According to the him, ELF’s training was a noble course which marked a turning point towards his success as an individual. Since leaving the programme, he has started several community-based organizations and youth groups in areas that he is really strong at.

At the ELF, I got to pick a lot. I could write a 500-pager book on my lessons. But in brief, I got to learn much on Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Governance, Public Speaking and Advocacy.

 

Having undertaken environmental planning in his undergraduate studies, he opted on using this as a tool to advocate for Climate Action in Murang’a county, where he hails from. In 2019, he founded a youth group. Platinum Youth Group, whose main objective is to engage youth in community activities and to help address the issue of unemployment amongst the youth. Through this group, he has managed to start a Community Based Organization (CBO), a tree planting initiative dubbed Green Rural Society, which seeks to address matters around climate change. So far, he has managed to donate over 5000 trees to primary and secondary schools and also to individual. This year, Green Rural society has planned 5 tree planting activities, 4 in Murang’a and 1 in Nairobi county.

Through the same group, he has also started an investment club, Platinum Youth Group Investment Club (PYGIL), which is a savings tool and is used to resource for loans among to help support registered members in various issues. Since its inception, the investment club has been able to support 5 people in starting their businesses. He credits this to the entrepreneurship session that he had at ELF.

“At the ELF, I got to pick a lot. I could write a 500-pager book on my lessons. But in brief, I got to learn much on Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Governance, Public Speaking and Advocacy. After training I decided to practice some of these skills and I can say that they have really worked for me.”

William hopes to have a fully resourced center that will accommodate more youth in developing their skills, ideas and engaging them in leadership and governance and addressing matters environment in his home county. In his words, “We have all what it takes to see the next generation breath fresh air.”

At ELF, we celebrate William and his commitment in conserving the environment and passing on knowledge on topical issues in his community.

 

 

OVERCOMING LOW SELF-ESTEEM

The 1990’s generation is deeply suffering from low self-esteem and many young people feel like they have lost it all. As I pen this down, I want to strongly assure our generation that we have the ability to create new champions in ourselves.

After last year’s training at ELF, I have thought about self-esteem in relation to Emotional intelligence and I can now clearly define it as an emotional opinion about oneself, how one feels about himself/herself as a person.

Many define self-esteem as ‘feelings of worth based on their skills, accomplishments, status, financial resources or appearance.’ However, from my school of thought I believe our sense of being a good person should not depend on what we do but rather on who we are in Christ (this is a Christian world view).

Our society seems to have it all wrong, there is a big problem with the society’s focus on self-esteem. The problem is that this focus involves measuring oneself against others, rather than paying attention to one’s intrinsic value.

Research shows that basing one’s self-worth on external factors (including academic performance, appearance and approval from others) is actually harmful to one’s mental health. The same research found that students who based their self-worth on internal sources (the unique qualities that make you- you) not only felt better; they also received higher grades and were less likely to use drugs and alcohol or to develop eating disorders.

From ELF’s training, I have learnt on how to apply a healthy view of myself and I can only achieve this by avoiding placing self at the center as the be-all and end-all of existence.

Iyanla Vanzant once said, “so many of us invest a fortune making ourselves look good to the world, yet inside we are falling apart. It’s time to invest on the inside.”

There are simple ways to help you increase your self-esteem and build confidence in yourself:

  • Challenge bad thoughts about yourself
  • Take care of yourself
  • Be sure to relax
  • Try new things
  • Surround yourself with people who make you feel good
  • Accept yourself
  • Set goals for yourself
  • Help somebody else out
  • Take a different perspective
  • Keep visual reminders of things that make you feel good

Each and every one of us have self-esteem. Self-esteem is made up of the thoughts we have about ourselves and plays a role in almost everything we do.

Having healthy self-esteem is really important as it helps you make positive choices in your everyday life, gives you the courage to be your own person, have good relationships and helps you deal with difficult situations.

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, spontaneous delight wonder, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

In conclusion, I believe that this piece will motivate someone and boost positive living. It’s not easy to like every part of the way we look, but getting stuck on negatives can really bring down your self-esteem. It’s important to believe that you can change. Change doesn’t necessarily happen easily or quickly, but it happens.

 

 

Submitted by

Stephen Muasya-cohort 8

7 non-negotiable leadership habits every leader must have

Leadership is defined differently by different people depending on different scenarios. To some, leadership is having top positions in work places while others relate leadership to politics. Fact is, leadership is wide and applies to almost everywhere in our daily lives. Some of us associate leadership with top management. While they may be highly skilled and good at their jobs, that doesn’t make them leaders. During a session at Emerging Leaders Foundation on leadership, the speaker defined effective leadership as transformational. Such leadership creates visions, inspires people and helps a team to effectively achieve that vision. Effective leaders create a picture of their visions in ways that everyone can understand. After a successful mentorship program at ELF and interacting with different leaders there, I can confidently call my self a leader.

  1. I’m more proactive than before

I have learnt to take responsibility of everything happening in my life. Every responsible leader must take time to plan and put measures on how their team works to prevent problems from happening. This means identifying all areas of risk and implementing measures that will prevent or reduce the impact of problems. Being proactive means planning accordingly. In return, it increases productivity and creates a cheerful work environment.

  1. I prioritize

As a leader, I must put first things first. Things that matter the most should never be at the mercy of things that matter. Leaders must be guided by principles. This will help in organizing and executing the most important priorities and not just be guided by the organization’s agendas.

  1. I have a mission and vision in life

We all have goals of what we would like to achieve in future. When we were young there’s who we wanted to be when we grow up. Are we where we’ve always wanted to be? If not, what happened? Could it be that our steps took us to the wrong places? Most likely yes. That was me before I partook in the mentorship program. I did everything blindly including starting businesses that couldn’t last two weeks. Having a mission and vision means having a clear image on the direction you want to take.

  1. I think win – win

This is a habit of mutual benefit. It means working with others to achieve the desired results. Win-win constantly seeks for mutual benefit in every engagement. However, most of us base our win on competitions (win-lose). This means if I get a bigger share of something you get less and vice versa. If I win you lose and if I lose you win and if it’s not a win for us, we both lose. Have we thought of us all winning? As leaders we must embrace a win-win habit. Win-win leaders are emphatic, considerate, brave and sensitive.

  1. I seek first to understand then to be understood

How may times do we listen to reply than we listen to understand? If you all can agree, it happens almost all the time. By doing so we end up missing important aspects. Effective communication is very essential in life. Therefore, as leaders we should seek to understand first before we share feedback.

  1. Synergy

“Synergy is better than my way, our way” Dr. Stephen R. Covey. This is a combination teamwork, cooperation and open-mindedness as a way of finding solutions to problems.  It is working together to achieve the set goals. Combined effort is greater than individual effort. To achieve this kind of leadership as modern and effective leaders, we should work together in mutually enhancing ways to accomplish both organizational and personal goals.

  1. I continuously renew myself both professionally and personally

This habit is commonly referred to as sharpening the saw. Do you sharpen your saw? How do you balance between work and your personal life? A friend once shared on how they collapsed due to work burn out. Constantly seek to renew physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

 

As I wind up, just remember that everyday is a new opportunity to make a change. The 7 habits listed above are from my own experience and can have a long-lasting impact on both personal and interpersonal growth.

 

Submitted By:

Shalom Musyoka, Cohort 8. 

Dennis Leiyan: Leading Change in Kajiado County

“I decided to try my hand into leadership as the president of Cohort 5 so as to put into practice all that I was being taught at the ELF. This would help me learn and polish my shortcomings as a leader and as an individual. I am privileged to serve my cohort as their president.”

Dennis was part of ELF’s leadership program in 2018 where he got a chance to serve as his cohort’s president.

He has previously served as the chair of Young Diplomats at the USIU-Africa and also served as the chair of African Model of the United Nations which he helped lead a bid to host over 400 youth delegates from Africa in 2017, at the UN offices in Kenya. Additionally, he successfully led his cohort in organizing a visit to the Compassionate Hands for the Disabled Foundation located in Ruai.

Right after his ELF training, Dennis started a number of initiatives in his home county, Kajiado. In his pioneer project, Dennis leads a sanitary towel drive for young student who can’t afford them in Kajiado county and he has been able to directly reach at least 300 girls in government day schools since he started the drive. He also came up with a bi-annual football tournament, Changamka Cup, where he uses the tournament as a platform to discuss youth agendas and governance in his constituency Through this, he has been able to unite a number of football coaches in the area who help him improve football in the area. So far, Changamka cup has had two successful tournaments with the most recent one having over 1,000 youth in attendance.

“At the ELF, the greatest lesson that I learnt is that one doesn’t need to be great to bring change. All you need is to show up and do your part”

He has also partnered with youths from his Kajiado North constituency to form Kijani Ustara which he serves as Chairperson. The organisation deals with environment issues in the constituency.  Dennis also mentors’ youths from his constituency into leadership by partnering with Taifa Teule organization. Through this, he has his sights on consolidating young people who have interest in leadership. This is to help in making sure the youth agenda is not lost in the midst of politics.

“At the ELF, the greatest lesson that I learnt is that one doesn’t need to be great to bring change. All you need is to show up and do your part”

Dennis has set his sights on mentoring more young people to be enlightened and empower them with knowledge and skills to help them be agents of change.

His favorite quote is by Tom Mboya, “There is no superman. It is up to us.”

We celebrate Dennis’s determination and persistence to be an agent of positive change in his county.