Slay the Giant

The last few weeks have seen an uprising in the world against racism and police brutality. The cause; George Floyd’s death in the USA. The revolt has been televised and re-shared all over the world in unison. Back home, Kenyans held demos protesting George Floyd’s death at the USA embassy and a localized version was witnessed outside parliament buildings.

Why did we have to wait this late to hold demos against police brutality in Kenya? It has been constantly ongoing in, followed by zero actions from citizens ­- apart from a few tweets and rants by netizens – there haven’t been much going on.

This is not about police brutality; much has been said and it seems to be getting home. The Inspector general recently started weekly tweet chats ‘#ENGAGETHEIG’ and I hope that this will be a move that will leave notable changes in the sector.

Everyone has a role to play, it is no longer a universal thing, lets handle it personally; we shall win the fight.

Are we mentally enslaved even when it comes to acting on what ails us? What is holding back from fighting the biggest plague that ails us, tribalism, not by words but by taking meaningful action. When will we face this giant boldly and hold it by its horns? When are we going to stop voting for our tribal lords? For how long will I get the question, ‘Jina Kamoche ni ya kutoka maeneo gani’?

For how long will we get efficient services based on our second names? Tribalism stands out as the biggest form of discrimination in the country and we are all advocates of the same in various ways. It is sad that close to 60 years since Kenya gained it’s independence, we are still battling the same ills that were experienced when the nation was an infant. How many more years to go before we wake up from our slumber?  How far or how close are we?

The people we have always expected to be of help in controlling tribalism have been the biggest advocates of the same, directly, or indirectly. Our politicians, clergy, teachers and worse still, our parents – parents have restrained their sons and daughters from intermarrying, refused to attend weddings or even bless their marriages simply because they are marrying from tribes they consider their cultural ‘foes’.

Tribalism is a plague. I see tribalism – which is largely Political Tribalism – as a form of stunted psychological and sociological growth. Politicians are always blamed – rightfully – for inflaming tribal passions. But the tribal logic resonates with most of the youthful population, who are the majority in Kenya. We have always had a pandemic ailing us, not an ‘import’ like the now famed Covid-19, No. It is a pandemic that exists within our local boundaries, spread around by our own friends, families, heroes, and ourselves.

As we fight police brutality and racism on twitter, let us not forget to fight a giant that lives amongst us and always bites back during electioneering periods. We need to fight it with the same energy being put in fighting the pandemic, the same vigor being put into ensuring that BBI proposals are adopted. Tribalism is a vice that has stood between us and great opportunities, good governance, peace, and unity in the nation.

Everyone has a role to play, it is no longer a universal thing, lets handle it personally; we shall win the fight. We need to do much more than cross our fingers and hope for a swarm of political candidates with the supernatural formula of personal charisma and appeal. We need to kill off fear that has blurred our logic and stopped our change of behavior.

To beat it, we have got to weed our souls.

The Journey: Redefining Leadership

What makes a leader really? Leadership is one of the most widely covered topics and with so many definitions of a leader. Earlier this year, in the process of checking out my social media updates, I came across a call for applications for Africa Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) 2020. I must admit, it was intriguing that such an opportunity existed. I decided to just make an attempt. “What do I have to lose?” I said to myself, unaware that it would be one of the most transforming programs I have come across so far.

I have learnt of the importance of developing good leadership habits and replacing negative habits with positive ones.

For the longest while, I have been on a journey of self-discovery. I have made discoveries on my capacities and my role in affecting my surroundings. It is a beautiful thing when success meets preparedness. Around the time when I came across the ABLI 2020 application, I was genuinely seeking an opportunity for structured mentorship in leadership and career development. ABLI has given me the opportunity to re-discover not just myself but leadership in itself.

Leadership begins by leading self before leading others. Reflecting on my story and mapping out my life, I have discovered many instances where I have been a leader without a title, but a leader nonetheless. In the first module on self-awareness, I discovered my personality and how it has influenced my leadership style. People are different and mutual understanding eases and harnesses leadership. Being able to apply emotional intelligence as a leader has taught me that more than doing the right thing, I need to do things the right way.

Sometimes wisdom is hidden in retrospect and everyone has a story. I have learnt the important of constantly being in touch with the development of my story as a leader. Many of the experiences that make up my story have prepared me for my present and future moments.

“Dear younger me.…” If you were to write a letter to your younger self, how would it read? Many times, wisdom does not find us in a vacuum with no experiences. Making peace with the past is one of the key things that an effective leader must be keen to do. As I have learnt from one of the sessions, I need not to allow past mistakes and regrets hold me back from becoming the leader I ought to be. It may not have been my fault that particular things happened to my younger version, but it is definitely my responsibility to seek healing and be free from the pain by forgiving and letting go – even forgiving myself.

We are creatures of habits. An effective leader builds evidence of their leadership through habits. As part of redefining leadership, I have learnt of the importance of developing good leadership habits and replacing negative habits with positive ones.

As my journey of leadership continues with ABLI as an Emerging Leader, I continue to have Leadership Redefined and become more refined. I am grateful to ELF, BSK, the ABLI Team, and my fellow leaders in ABLI 2020 for every opportunity and equipping. I encourage other emerging leaders to be set for the next opportunity to journey with ABLI. The journey continues!

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures,” F. M. Alexander.

 

Submittted by:
Kelvin Irungu- ABLI 2020

Stella Agara: If it is good for Africa, She loves doing it and she will do it.

Stella Agara is a Governance and Youth Development Specialist with 12 years’ experience working on a broad spectrum of Governance issues and vast experience on the execution of Youth Led Development programs across East and Southern Africa. She has vast experience in promotion of good governance and accountability, youth led development, tax justice with a focus on impact on youth and women, anti-corruption and promotion of integrity, leadership development, policy analysis and legislation, research and evidence based advocacy, training and facilitation, strategic planning, project management, Monitoring, evaluation, reporting & learning and data quality management. She has a background in Law and a PGD in International Relations and Diplomacy.

The unfolding of your words gives light, it gives understanding to the simple

She is the 15th Laureate of the Bremen Solidarity prize, an award she won for her work in tax justice and promotion of Youth Led Development where she campaigns for youth to demand accountability from Governments on the illicit financial flow from the continent. She was also awarded the AU Youth Anti-Corruption Ambassador for East Africa. She is a Nelson Mandela fellow from the Woman in Public Policy program.

Stella previously worked with Action Aid Denmark as a Youth Advisor seconded to Action Aid Malawi. She is a former Deputy Executive Director of the Africa Youth Trust. She also served the Africa Youth Parliament as an internal Consultant on Youth Leadership for Governance Processes in Africa.

She has spent most of her adult life working on promoting youth leadership for governance processes in Africa and particularly leadership with legacy. Her mantra is ‘If it is good for Africa, She loves doing it and she will do it.’

She offers mentorship on design of interventions to promote the participation of the most vulnerable in promotion of governance and accountability. She also mentors in the governance space and tailor makes scenarios that enable her mentees figure out what needs to be done to enable the vulnerable groups they work for to regain power, organize and begin influencing governance from a place of power.

Stella describes mentorship as a two way journey that requires great effort from the mentee and not the reverse. “Mentorship should not be hard work, toil and strife for the mentor, it should be the effort of a mentee who has visualized grace they would like to tap into in a potential mentor; effort to draw, effort to sap into the grace and co-create greatness as a result of the shared experience. At the start of this mentorship you need me more than I need you; work to make sure in the end the relationship is symbiotic, that as a mentor I tap into your grace as you tap into mine. If you have no calling you are committed to then we have no business starting this mentorship journey.”

Her greatest moments in mentorship are usually when her mentees flourish, thrive and take charge of the sectors that they are being mentored on. This, givers her satisfaction when her mentees flourish, thrive and take charge in the sector for which they got mentorship on.

Mentorship is not always rosy, Stella reckons.  “I was assigned a mentee who I have never met one on one or had a session with ever since we were first introduced on email. I cannot tell whether it is the distance, the alignment of priorities or otherwise. I count this as a wasted opportunity.”

“I am a product of mentorship; one of my most memorable mentors Ms. Joyce Umbima practically planted every feather on my wings. If I had not pushed my interaction with her and requested for mentorship, the people I mentor today would not be learning the generous lessons I share today. My mentees would have missed out on the quality and efficiency of advocacy that Ms. Umbima represented and imparted upon me, that I continue to share today. My reference to the example of the lost mentorship opportunity as a ‘Wasted Opportunity’ is an understatement, because I know that all great men and women in this world are ‘living vessels’ that opened up to receive grace to be great and most importantly, gave their time to carry the mentors greatness on their shoulders.”

Her advice to professionals who want to join the mentorship journey, “Remember God aligned people, resources and opportunities to get you to where you are today; your only job is to ensure you grow that seed and multiply the army that shall be serving God and promoting a divine agenda in their leadership in your sector. Build an army that will carry the mantle long after you are gone. Freely you have received, freely give.”

Her motivation to mentor young leaders is born from the revelation that we all have a very specific, divine assignment here on earth and limited time.

Her favorite quote, “The unfolding of your words gives light, it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalms 119:130)

Diana Favour Chepkorir: Advocating for proper sanitation across all ends.

Three years ago, Diana Favour Chepkorir found herself lucky, as one of the initial members of ELF’s county program, Tunaweza, pulled out of the first training in the with a few hours. This presented her with an opportunity to explore further and put in practice her passion for youth leadership and engagement. Since then, her journey has not been the same. Currently, Diana is one of the most efficient members of Tunaweza, Kericho county.

I started a civic education program to ensure that citizens have the right information.

Her time with the youth-centered program has seen her work with a youth advocacy group that is leading the way in calling out the county government and participating in various governance processes to ensure that issues around the youth are well addressed and worked upon. Recently, she was part of the team that drafted the youth bill in the county.

Besides good governance advocacy, Diana is an advocate of proper sanitation in her county. She is working towards ensuring that there is good sanitation from the family level to public facilities, identification of sanitation gaps and help in addressing them. This include ensuring that homesteads have latrines and are using them, and everyone is constantly keeping hand-hygiene at all critical time.

Her acts do not end at the field of advocacy, she is also involved in civic education in her county to promote social accountability.

“I came together with a few friends and started a civic education program to ensure that citizens have the right information at the right time especially on the budget cycle and public participation. We also created a youth network from my sub-county where youth can share their issues at that level.”

Owing to her ELF training, Diana started a business and has seen her business grow overtime.

“I don’t depend on white collar job to earn a living, the business sustains me comfortably and I enjoy being my own boss.”

We celebrate Diana for her advocacy efforts at the county level.

“Nurturing diversity through humanitarian actions brings richness and vitality to the world,” Jolyne Jelimo

With over 5 years of experience, Jolyne is passionate about children, youth, and women. Her commitment to these special groups reflects the deep-seated sense of humanity which has seen her devout countless hours and years positioning them to be fit for the future through technology, leadership, and economic empowerment. She believes that nurturing diversity through humanitarian actions brings richness and vitality to the world. She is a transformational leader and a social change agent who believes in turning community vision into reality through strategic coalitions and harmonized action.

She is a passionate volunteer and currently serves as the Vice President and Country Chair for Global Goodwill Ambassador (GGA) Foundation in Kenya as well as a facilitator and a mentor at GGA’s Youth mentorship program. In her capacity, she has promoted and strengthened humanitarian leadership while taking lead in documenting the progress and challenges that continue to hamper effective humanitarian actions. While leading the team of humanitarians in Kenya, she has advocated for defending and upholding of humanitarian principles and transparency as a prerequisite for constructive co-existence.

ELF helped me to seek intellectual excitement, and I was able to learn exhilarating truths about the how and why of leadership in an international and national setting.

Jolyne honed her leadership, capacity building and youth development skills at ELF’s ABLI program and she credits the program for her current intellectual development in form of deeper knowledge in critical thinking, problem solving capabilities and abilities to understand complexities and ambiguity. The program also helped her achieve great personal and social growth through enhanced moral reasoning, personal efficacy, interpersonal skills, intercultural competencies, and commitment to social service to her country at large. This has enabled her to affirm and explore her passion in serving humanity.

“ELF helped me seek intellectual excitement, and I was able to learn exhilarating truths about the how and why of leadership in an international and national setting as well as answering my curiosity on whether there are other ways of leading multicultural teams while understanding cultural context without being unduly constrained by it. This has aided me to stretch my mind beyond its previous conceptual boundaries hence expanding my knowledge on leadership which is exactly the context within which I learnt the most during Elf program,”Jolyne adds.

Owing to her ELF lessons, she has been instrumental in the designing and implementing courses and projects that encourage youths to indulge in noble deeds of humanitarian activities that will make their life more meaningful. So far, the project has reached over 1000 youths and their target for the next 5 years is to impact 5000 more youths who will be nurtured, coached, and stretched beyond their comfort zone to maximize personal and professional excellence.

 

She is also aiming to increase the participation of youths and women in leadership and decision-making processes in their community, society, and the country at large. “I believe that by advancing and addressing women and youth’s differentiated needs and aspirations, a generation will be saved and with it, community’s hope, prosperity, peace and security.”

“I want to be part of several learning experiences such as professional behaviour, communication skills and occupational interest patterns that will form the foundation for sound career decision making and opening up new opportunities to develop new skills and have new experiences which will be used in impacting and making a difference in the society we live in,” Jolyne Jelimo.

When the Goal is Bigger than the Odds; My Journey so Far

If you are like me, you most likely spend significant time on social media, whether for news, entertainment or just catching up with friends and family. The weekly screen time report I get on my phone has consistently shown that social media is the third most time-consuming activity on my phone after productivity and reading. The report indicates that I spend an average of twenty-two hours a week on social media via the phone.

This was the case early in the year when I stumbled upon a Facebook post calling for applications for the 2020 African Bible Leadership Initiative (ABLI). Having missed a similar opportunity in 2019, I was keen to sign up for this one and in no time, my application was complete. A fortnight later, I received the news I had been waiting for- I had been accepted to be part of the 2020 cohort.

We are encouraged, challenged, motivated and inspired by men and women who have a mastery of their respective subjects and deliver with great humility.

Then came the unprecedented and unexpected, Covid-19. The pandemic hit our nation and its effects were slowly being felt in every home, office, school and church. Soon after, all forms of public gatherings were suspended, throwing our planned classes in disarray. Traditionally, ABLI sessions would be held in a brick-and-mortar location with all participants physical present but with the preceding situations, we had to go virtual, the digital shift triumphed.

This is the sixth week of the program, and it feels like I have been at it for months. The infill of knowledge, self-discoveries, eye-opening interactions and invaluable networks are what makes ABLI the best thing for anyone to invest their time in. It has been said numerous times ‘You cannot lead others if you can’t lead yourself.’ This underscores the reason why personality types had to be the first of the eighteen sessions wrapped in seven modules.

Thanks to the session on emotional intelligence, my group members and I now understand that our own feelings and the feelings of others affect and contribute to effective management of our emotions in the different relationships we all have.

Everyone has a story and it is important to own your story. Heal from its pains, forgive the wrongdoers therein, learn from it and as you rise from the ashes, cast your vision. The session of storytelling and life mapping has helped me look back at my past with nothing to regret but great pride about how far I each have come from, the many mountains I’ve surmounted and the successes within. Through storytelling and life mapping, I can now pour out my life into the younger generation in fifteen minutes or less. I also can now clearly see the patterns and influences of the decisions I make today. What this means is that I am at a better position to know what to avoid, embrace and chase.

When was the last time you wrote yourself a letter? Whether you wrote it to your younger self or future self is still worth applauding. I personally was taken decades back to my sixteen-year-old self. I was just joining high school, and behind me, I was leaving a tainted reputation. A reputation characterised by dropping out of school countless times, gambling and general lawlessness. This came with shame, scorn and alienation. However, looking back, I realise that age sixteen was my turning point, hence the reason I wrote a letter my younger self. In that letter, I encouraged myself to forgive myself for my juvenile errors, forgive my foes, reconcile with the distant and face forward with readiness to conquer the next decade.

Today, I am glad I joined ABLI. Even with the disruption caused by the global pandemic, we are moving on as if nothing happened. The sessions on Zoom are just as lively and meaningful as though we were meeting physically. I must commend the ELF team for convening such a resourceful faculty. Week after week, we are encouraged, challenged, motivated and inspired by men and women who have a mastery of their respective subjects and deliver with great humility. Their preparedness shows in every slide and sentence.

On our WhatsApp group, we’re family. Though we’ve never met physically, we already have such great bonds. We discuss everything, from the sessions we’re having to current affairs to common leadership pitfalls.

I thank God for granting me this opportunity. Now I pray that you too will be led to grab it in the next calling.

Do not be afraid to take up leadership training and positions. As John C. Maxwell said, “Everything rises and rests on leadership.”

Submitted by:
James Sakwa, ABLI 2020

The war against corruption is an Illusion

Vices are as old as humanity and they have grown in complexity. Public resources have been lost in the hands of a few well-connected individuals under the guise of ‘development’. Joe Biden, former US Vice President once said, “Corruption is a cancer that eats away the citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity.”

The chain of corruption is long and has its extension to many in one way or the other. This leaves us with the question: Is corruption behavioral or an in-built systemic problem? The war corruption was publicly declared in 2003, with high investments on it. The nation looked like it was coming to a close of the vice but to haven’t crossed an inch.

Most billionaires in Kenya are not made through inventions or growth of ideas but from monopoly paved by the political system. Evidently, majority of them have had interactions with the government in one way or the other meaning that their wealth may have been gotten through shoddy dealings.  In the last 7 years, billionaires and millionaires have either doubled or tripled their wealth. This can be attributed to their relations with the government and dealing with influential persons in different capacities. For instance, take a look at some of the beneficiaries in NYS 1 and 2 and the 2014 Ministry of Health scandal, individuals who had no track record of wealth in each of these cases were created overnight.

The methods of corruption used or means of transaction have mutated to the extent where corrupt individuals do not have to exchange money. To some extent, profiteers of corruption have resorted to rewards such as properties, favors and merchandise. The primary institution bestowed with the responsibility of fighting corruption has also mutated and changed names with the intention of giving it more life and making it stronger and powerful. Currently, it is called Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission meaning it is an independent commission created by an Act of Parliament. The provision under Article 249 of the Constitution sets grounds with the intention to define not only the institution but also the holders of the institution and their relations to other offices created under the Constitution. This provision sets out the objects, authority and funding of the commission. The intention of having an independent commission is to create the ideal situation by ensuring that there is separation of powers to minimize interference from any other state organ in order to protect the sovereignty of the people. Therefore, commissions, including EACC are not part of the executive. The president appoints the commissioners as the head of state and not as the head government.

The fight against corruption is selective and seems to be targeting certain groups of people and political opponents.

It is my supposition that there is no deficiency in laws enacted to curb the vice of corruption. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act No. 22 of 2011 under section 13 (2) (c) gives the commission powers to investigate and arrest suspects for prosecution by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP).

Over and above that, the Anti-Corruption and Economics Crimes Act No. 3 of 2003 has an interesting provision under section 58 which talks to the presumption of corruption. This provision states: If a person is accused of an offence under Part V an element of which is that an act was done corruptly and the accused person is proved to have done that act the person shall be presumed to have done that act corruptly unless the contrary is proved.

My understanding of this provision is that it does not purport to curtail the presumption of innocence as ensconced in Article 50(2) (a) of the Constitution. However, this provision shifts the burden of proof to the accused person when prosecuting matters related to the Anti-Corruption and Economics Crimes Act No. 3 of 2003. An interesting perspective is to note whether this is the case of graft cases here in Kenya. In corruption cases prosecuted in countries like some states in USA and in China, this principle is important as an evidential burden is put on the accused person the moment the prosecuting authority is able to bring evidence showing loss of public funds.

Given the peculiar nature of economic crimes against the government, it is my opinion that when and if anyone in public office or a duty bearer is implicated in corruption, the burden of proof must shift automatically to him and he/she should be given an opportunity to account for every coin in his docket or department.  If he/she is unable to make an account of public funds under his/her department, then punitive measures such as fines and jail terms are introduced in order to deter fellow minded corrupt office holders. Additionally, I propose that anyone taking up public office is to sign an agreement that states: Incase of any loss of finances as a result of corruption, the office holder shall be personally liable for the loss and therefore the government can recover all the property stolen.

The current measures put in place to combat corruption are not sufficient as a result of various challenges. There is lack of institutional inclusivity in leadership as these positions are occupied by a few interconnected businessmen and women. Consequently, the leaders have conflicts of interest that chain them into a situation where they must make decisions that do not advance public interest but rather advance their own personal interests. Arguably, in order for institutions such as EACC or other independent offices to fight corruption, the status quo must be disrupted. As it is currently, the institutions are used by political leaders to fight, silence political opponents and pave way for their friends. Today the fight against corruption seems to be selective by targeting certain groups of people or political opponents. The fight against corruption is a manipulative and cajoling one and therefore the moment one joins to support the government of the day and not antagonizing the government one is deemed not corrupt. Politics plays a great role in determining the success of the fight against corruption.

Secondly, lack of knowledge and the dire social-economic situations in the country has chained and locked the citizenry from participating and determining the actions of politicians. Lack of knowledge is attributable to the neglection of civic education by CSOs and the peddling of wrong and misleading information by politicians. Today, the public relies on politicians for information. Unfortunately, politicians disseminate information based on their interests. To put this into perspective, they will peddle information as a currency to spread propaganda against their opponent. Politicians misinterpret information and manipulate the citizens by playing victims and defenders of their tribes. Ultimately, the citizens end up electing corrupt leaders into office having played the tribal card. Economically, the citizenry is impoverished and is in search of food.  Politicians continue to impoverish the lives of Kenyans and taking away the future of Kenyans by continued theft from public coffers and dishing out hand-outs to the citizens, creating a sense of dependency. Kenyans must be vigilant and resist the instant gratification of the moment and think of a sustainable future for its generation.

In conclusion, corruption can be fought when the citizenry is informed and is able to carry out social accountability through the ballot. The ballot, however, has to be freed from the mentality of tribalism and instant gratification from the hand-outs propagated by the political class. Furthermore, institutions such as the National Police Service or EACC should be independent and autonomous from political centers. The independence of these offices is protected through law should include financial independence and independence in appointments to office.

 

Submitted by:
Ahmed Maalim- Programs Manager

Mentor of the week: Nafula Wafula

A fierce advocate for gender equality and human rights who is also passionate about Pan-Africanism, youth empowerment and social justice.  A lawyer by training who also adds up as a gender, human rights, advocacy, youth engagement consultant.

Currently, she is the programs director at Brydges Centre, an organization that provides child rescue and protection services, education and economic empowerment to at-risk youth and out-of-school girls.  Nafula currently leads the centre’s skills development program which has successfully trained 227 young people in vocational skills, technology, entrepreneurship, and employability skills. Besides this, serves as on the board of International Youth Foundation (IYF) and is a board member of Siasa Place, a youth serving organization focused on meaningful youth engagement and participation in political leadership, and a board member board of Kenya’s National Employment Authority which provides for a comprehensive institutional framework for: employment management; enhancement of employment promotion interventions.

At ELF, her mentorship areas are around gender, advocacy, organisational strengthening, effective campaigning. Besides mentorship, she is a facilitator on gender and leadership and a strong advocate of young girls getting space on the table of leadership.

“Tough at times due to time constraints. Engaging and exchanging experiences and lessons has been incredibly inspiring though, and being a better mentor is truly a journey whose path I am still on,” Nafula on her mentorship journey so far.

Nafula’s advice to interested in taking up mentorship, “Have an open mind and a willing heart. Mentorship is a two-way journey, the mentor, and the mentee both learn from each other in many ways. Be committed, be authentic and never be afraid to ask questions and never be afraid to admit when you do not know. It is the beginning of the learning process.”

 

What if I embraced myself earlier on?

What if I believed?

What if I stepped out boldly, unafraid, and just launched out?

What if I stopped falling into a comparison trap?

What if I embraced myself?

I do not know about you, but I have asked myself such questions. As a young girl, I have felt not good enough and trapped in the prison of self-doubt. Guess what happened? Self-esteem hit the bottom sea; fear choked my every being; self-doubt curled my heart and mind into shambles. I admired to be another. I felt others were always better than myself. Even after knowing how I am shaped differently, I still hid in the cocoon of, ‘They are always better than me.’

My story has an influence, I should own it, embrace it, and share it proudly, it might inspire someone

Well, this year something happened.

After vehemently praying for a spirit of boldness, I resolved to BE ME and unapologetically explore opportunities and dive in with a committed and intentional heart. I was convinced and convicted of taking charge of my life, take it by its horns, in faith, and keep moving forward. Do you know what? We do not become by feeling sorry about ourselves. We become by taking responsibility for every minute of our lives and making it count. I am glad I chose this path. I have made my youthful life count by joining ELF’s program African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI). Here, Emerging Leaders are discovered and trained to be responsible changemakers in their personal lives and in the society.

As an emerging leader, I am uniquely designed to effect and affect my spheres. Since God has specially crafted me to fulfill certain purposes, I can only realize them when I get to know myself. Self-awareness is a doorway to unraveling all that I am intended to be in this life. Through this lesson, I understood my personality, embraced it and right now, I am more aware of myself and actuating ME in my passion and work. I am different amazingly. Notably, I have intentionally decided to embrace people and not disregard them because of our differing personalities. We are molded differently and the best we can do is accommodate and learn from our amazing divergent personalities.

I love stories, more-so analogies that make a write up interesting and easy to understand. Well, thinking through my life story, sharing it, and retelling it to a close buddy is relieving. I am more grateful for every season of my life, something I couldn’t even think of a while back. The beautiful, the not so good to mention, the highs and lows moments, they all make your story beautiful. This has enabled me to look back, reflect on past life happenings and reminded me of how my journey Iis this far. My story has an influence, I should own it, embrace it, and share it proudly, it might inspire someone. That makes an Impactful leader!

Every lesson has made sense. Writing letters to self has reminded me of my passion, my strengths, the bold girl from the village who is fearless and against all odds has scaled heights in the most unlikely environments. “How could that be princess? Through the difficulties, you have conquered. You have made it over time because God’s wall has continuously shielded you from storms. Keep conquering, won’t you?” I wrote to my 12-year-old-self.

These reflections have kept my heart tuned to whom I have always been. Reminded me of how much potential I have and how much I’m yet to achieve.

I am BECOMING.

 

Submitted by:

Susan Ndiangui-ABLI 2020

How Emerging Leaders Foundation is Fighting the Pandemic

I do not know how you have been coping with Covid-19, but here at ELF, it has been a roller-coaster of thoughts, emotions, and events. We have moved from hoping that this is just a passing cloud, to realising that the virus is here to stay. We have shifted from believing that we can postpone all our programs to “post-COVID” to realising that NOW is the only time we have.

I must say, it has not been easy. You see, speaking about adapting to change and the benefits therein is one thing, but it is totally different when you must change and adapt so quickly. In all this, I dare say, this virus has brought out the best in us, we now know the importance of ACT NOW, and across the world, we have seen how movements have been built and continue to be sustained amidst the pandemic, humanity realises that we cannot suspend democracy, justice, and equality even though the rain falls!

Our joy is that young people have continued to defy the odds, they have led their communities from the front, as essential workers in hospitals and factories, and as community health workers. At ELF, we see our young people continue with the work of keeping their local governments accountable, participating in policy processes, through creative ways enabled by technology.

I have particularly been pleased by Susan Wairimu (@Suzy Wa Wairimu on Facebook), a single mother who dedicates her time to providing sanitary pads to poor and vulnerable girls in her community in Ngong, who would otherwise not afford the pads. She harnesses the power of her social network through social media to crowdfund for the sanitary pads and personally delivers them door to door. I highlight this story because it embodies what we stand for as an organization, that our communities are our responsibility, and that each of us can and should play an active role in making it SUSTAINABLE, despite the odds being against us. Suzy is not alone, to all the young people, making sacrifices to see members of their society live DIGNIFIED lives, we salute and celebrate you.

All our programs are now taking place online, thanks to our dedicated team of staff who have put in extra hours and have stepped up when called upon, to me, they are my heroes. To Caren, Ahmed, Cheboi, Irene, Kipkalya, Marvin, Andrew, and Kim, thank you for your resilience.

We are also grateful to our partners and funders who continue to believe in us and walk with us. We believe that our best weapon against this pandemic and the next is values-based leaders, who will put service to the people above self-interest, who will prioritize investing in structures and systems and not tokenism. Leaders who will value the next generation over the next election.

To realize the above, we will continue to discover leaders and train them, we will connect them with mentors and send them back to their communities to cause revolutionary impact. Our communities are getting better, one Emerged leader at a time.

 

Submitted by:

Jim IndiaELF Communications Officer