IT’S A NEW DAWN!

The pandemic came with lock down, shattered dreams, goals, and visions. At the beginning, I had no hint of what would happen next, or even how I would plan for the rest of the days. I kept getting restless as the number of infections kept rising. I embraced being still and walking into new paths and being available for opportunities.

While being still, I received an email from the from Emerging Leaders Foundation on African Biblical Leadership Institute (ABLI), a program I had applied for, informing me that I had qualified for the 2020 cohort. I got excited on hearing the news, I celebrated in song and dance as I waited for the training to commence.

Come June, the training was finally launched. I got so excited to see fellow participants logging in from across the country. The music at the waiting room was calming, I knew I had found a new home. As participants kept logging in, my heart leapt with joy on seeing Caren Wakoli. How I felt like reaching out to hug her, but sadly because of the pandemic the meeting was online. It was very great having her speak to us, because she is a lady I admire, and I look forward to meeting her. She warmly welcomed us and encouraged us to always be outstanding. She told us to always endeavor to bring out our ‘A’ game on the table and we should never hold back.

I have since learnt that most people make decisions based on their emotions. During this period, I have taken time to settle and understand myself. I endeavor to be renewing my mind daily, fixing my eyes on positive results and not getting overwhelmed with stress. I started buying books on leadership and self-awareness, to enable me learn from people’s perspectives and experiences.

The journey that I took is about learning, unlearning, and re-learning as well. As an aspiring leader, I am learning to lead from behind just as Nelson Mandela said “A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, where upon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being distracted from behind.” Leading from behind means being a servant leader, taking care of the people’s needs first before your own. I am on course to becoming a servant leader.

In this journey that I took, I have embraced the power of having a vision, not just having it but learning to implement it step by step. ABLI has led me to understand that you become successful if you implement your vision. This is because visions keep us going. Having a stronger vision makes one not to easily give up.

It is a journey of learning in depth the habits of highly effective leaders. By this, I am working daily on conquering myself and my fears and sharpening the axe. This way, I can be able to conquer the world. I am practicing being decisive and balancing my life. This is to keep me away from having a successful business and a terrible family at the same time.

Being an ABLI fellow is a journey I took on my way to leadership.  I believe with God on my side, I am making it. It is indeed the rise of a New Dawn.

 

By: Catherine Khayali, ABLI 2020

Mentor of the Week: Everton Lukorito

Everton is a banker with over 10 years’ experience. He has been a mentor at ELF for 15 months in the entrepreneurship space.

His mentorship experience has been a great one as he has always found joy working and sharing insights with the younger generation who he believes have much potential if well coached. “The journey has been insightful and mind blowing. The sheer fact that someone looks up to you and tasks you to be the best so that you can create the best out of him/her is fulfilling.”

“Our current generation is on a different platform and if we sit and watch, we will have a case to answer to the ancestors. You know that proverbial question ‘When did the rains start beating you?’ I better play my role by mentoring and not wait for the moment to answer the questions.”

His greatest moments have always been when creating ice-breaking moments with his mentees as he gets to create connections with mentees and understand on their needs and goals.

Everton believes good mentorship is about getting your mentee to fulfill their potential and letting them see what they hold in them. “It is mining the Gold out of the mentee who thought they have Coal. It entails hand holding and opening the mind to a new sphere step by step.”

His advice to new mentors, “We must realize that behind the scene we have young people who wish to walk your path, and joining the mentorship journey will not only create a better people but a people who will make mentorship take a different perspective in the world.”

His favourite quote ‘All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts’ by William Shakespeare.

“Looking back, joining ELF was the wisest decision that I have made in life”

Gladys Maina was not always going to be a STEM professional. She had initially pursued a medical laboratory certificate but realized rather quickly that a career in medicine was not meant for her. She quit and travelled 250Kms to Nairobi where her passion for technology started.

She never looked back and has gone ahead to excel in her career and studies. She recognizes the role technology continues to play in transforming lives and societies. Despite Kenya being a resource-constrained developing country, she believes that it offers her the opportunity to use technology to solve social-economic issues. It is for this reason that Gladys continues to seek international experiences that guide her in achieving these goals. In November 2019, she was named a 2020 finalist of the Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship in line with Adobe vision of creating the best products by bringing gender diversity into the technology industry. In 2018, she was one of the four finalists and the only Kenyan nominated in the category of IT Project Management for the 2018 Afrika Kommt! Initiative.

Gladys attributes her continuous success to the training she got at Emerging Leaders Foundation, an organization she came across as she was casually browsing the Internet. ELF helped her rediscover who she really was and her capabilities. She learnt how to align her passions with a successful living. As an aspiring leader, the session on leadership gave her lessons that she carries with her to date. She was taught that leaders have clarity, leaders take care of the company they keep, and leaders give back to the community.

It is for this reason that Gladys has continued to champion for gender diversity and inclusion in the STEM field. In June 2020, she was selected for the 2020-2021 TechWomen program from an incredibly competitive cycle with only 108 women selected to participate. TechWomen brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program in the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, DC.

ELF taught her three crucial lessons which she has carries and shares with those around her:

  1. Never settle for less.

You should keep pursuing your goals and increasing your knowledge no matter what position or title you hold in life.

Steve Jobs said that we should never settle and we should never arrive.

  1. Be brave and take risks.

“We need to be brave and take risks to achieve our ambitions. We need to lose sight of the shores to discover new oceans. Taking risks means hurdling into the unknown and believing that we will make it to the other side, despite not yet knowing what the other side is going to look like. It is taking bold actions and forcing ourselves into unfamiliar territories.”

  1. Run your own race

“Sometimes we are tempted to look at others and compare ourselves. We evaluate ourselves by how much our colleagues, teammates, friends, and family members have accomplished forgetting that they are their own unique individual. One thing ELF taught me is that it does not matter when you start the race, what matters is that you eventually finish. Learn as much as you can as there is room at the finish line for all of us.”

Gladys hopes to continue inspiring the next generation of leaders. She believes that she stands on the sacrifices of a million women before her and is always thinking what she can do to make the mountain taller so the women after her can go even further.

“Looking back, joining ELF was the wisest decision that I have made in life.”

 

 

By: Gladys Maina, LDP Cohort 5

 

“ELF helped me believe in myself and step out of my comfort zone”

Vincent Ogallo Mwita is an ardent social worker focused on full eradication of female genital mutilation & gender-based violence cases, with keen interest in championing democracy & youth inclusion in national and devolved system of governance from the South west part of Kenya, Migori county.

Vincent was born and raised in a community where female genital mutilation and gender-based violence cases were a norm. Growing up, youth voices least mattered in the development agenda. This was a struggle for him as he always felt that more needed to be done on GBV. In his quest to form a network of champions against Gender based violence and poor governance that excluded voices of young people from key leadership and decision making spaces in his county, Vincent came across Tunaweza capacity building training, which he choose to be part of.

“I had interacted with most Leadership and Development alumni. Their knowledge, ability and understanding of various issues and conduct really inspired me. I needed to be part of ELF, I was always checking out for any openings,” he adds.

The Tunaweza training project in 2019 was a transformation and turnaround season for Vincent and other trainees as they were able to get capacity building development that shaped their leadership perspective, equipped them with skills to meaningfully engage their county leaders in order to spur social accountability and community-driven development.

Currently, Vincent is the Tunaweza coordinator, Migori county, and also serves as an executive member to the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network (CYGEN); a youth led global network of the 53 African states which actively promotes and supports the meaningful inclusion of youth voices on gender equality issues in local, national, regional, Commonwealth and international agendas.

“The training gave me an opportunity to believe in myself and step out of my comfort zone to go for leadership opportunities even beyond my county of residence. I was able to apply many other leadership and skills development opportunities. Recently, I was among the 207 trainees from 14 African countries who just concluded Yali’s training and I am among the 700 selected Young African Leaders for Mandela Washington Fellowship 2020 who are currently undertaking online trainings.”

Together with other Tunaweza fellows, they have strategized and come up with Migori Tunaweza Empowerment team; a name drawn from the training that they all attended. Under the team, they have positively engaged with their county youth department and raised concerns on various issues, this has further led to the start of the Migori County Youth Technical Working group (TWG); a stakeholders coordination team whose mandate is to champion for youth development agenda within the county sectors and departments through action plans. The team has also been able to develop a Migori County Integrated Action Plan (CIAP) which has contributed a lot in the budgetary processes of the county.

Vincent is also actively engaged in civic education on Constitution of Kenya (2010) with his key priority areas being around devolution and public participation. Through this, he is targeting young people in all sub-counties in Migori to ensure they engage and participate in key development agendas in the county.

Together with his Tunaweza team, they have launched a Covid-19 response campaign dubbed ‘Tunaweza Girl Empowerment-keep girls safe at home’ that targets to reach out to four thousand adolescent girls and one thousand adolescent boys (1000boys) led by team members. “We train them on menstrual hygiene, donate sanitary towels, give them trainings on sexuality and encourage them to abstain from sex as we highlight effects of sex at tender age and negative effects of female genital mutilation. We also provide mentorship to them.”

He also engages in making local door mats, selling, and buying of materials for making re-usable cloth sanitary towels as a social enterprise venture that aims to provide sustainable, accessible and affordable sanitation for young women and girls. “We get little income and in return use some of them in solving the menstrual problems amongst the rural needy girls. So far, the project has reached out to over five thousand (5000) young women and girls since 2019 with the re-usable cloth sanitary towels as we make.”

We celebrate Vincent and his efforts in fighting GBV, FGM and championing for good governance in his county.

 

My Transformation Through ABLI

When I joined ABLI I had my expectations. I wanted to grow spiritually and build a strong network of believers across the country. It has been three months since we started the program and truly I can attest the program has exceeded my expectations. I love the partnership between Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF) and the Bible Society of Kenya (BSK) with the aim of targeting young Christians who need leadership and mentorship training. It is hard to come by such programs that are Christian based.

Our weekly classes are top-notch! The organizers spend quality time coming up with the right content and topics that are relevant in the modern world. There are things that you will rarely learn in higher institutions of learning or even understand how important they are, but through ABLI, I have been able to understand and learn on so many aspects when it comes to leadership and professionalism; Leading with Emotional intelligence, using storytelling skills as a mode to influence people, spending time to write a letter to self and many more exciting topics. At this point, I feel empowered, it is hard to imagine that we are halfway into the program.

I am grateful that I got a chance to be a part of this cohort and I would like to thank the organizers for doing a commendable job. I am also thankful for being able to put into practice all the skills gained in this program at my current workplace. My start-up CBO, Graceway Foundation Africa, has also benefited a great deal and it has experiences a great change in its management, owing to my lessons from ABLI. If there is anyone out there who is looking to improve on their leadership style or you are wondering where to start from, ABLI is here for you!

I am reminded of one topic “Letter to self”. It has changed my perspective and helped me see things differently. I have been holding lots of painful past experiences that I could not bear to share with anyone around because of the memories behind them. The speaker of this session was very engaging, her soothing voice created a comfortable environment for us to speak out. This was the same day when I shared a story that I have never attempted to pass on to anyone, this has since left me with lightness and relief in my heart.

This year has not been an easy one but ABLI has made everything work out. Thank you, Emerging Leaders Foundation and Bible Society of Kenya, for giving me and other fellows hope, courage, strength and power when we were about to give up.

 

By: Emmanuel Opar Osano, ABLI 2020

 

 

Dr. Daphne: It is gratifying to see young people accomplish their goals.

Dr Daphne Kagume is a Mental Health Therapist, Advocate and Consultant with a strong social justice and multicultural background as well as an unwavering passion for helping individuals and communities overcome adversity and thrive. Her work has centered around gender, social justice, and multicultural issues with a major focus on Trauma-Informed Practice. She has special interest in how the intersection of Gender-based Violence, oppression and Trauma impacts individual and community well-being and factors that contribute to individual and community resilience. She is vastly experience as she has worked in various settings including NGOs, Higher Education, private practice and has held various roles including Programme Manager, Therapist, Community Advocate, Clinical Supervisor, and Advisor on Trauma-Informed Practice and Adjunct Faculty.

Dr. Daphne is intentional in using her skills and professional experience to bring about positive change around mental health and well-being in Kenya. She envisions a country where every individual will have equitable access to quality and affordable mental health service.

She has been a mentor at ELF for one year in the space of social services and academia. Her experience has been wonderful as she gets to experience growth in the young women that she mentors. “It is gratifying to witness them accomplishing the goals they have set, becoming more and more confident and learning to chart their own path,” she adds.

Her biggest challenge in mentorship, however, has been on her availability and the availability of her mentees to meet physically due to distance and other constraints.

According to her, good mentorship starts with having a good fit between the mentor and the person being mentored. “It is important for both to take the initiative and for the mentee to be clear about what they want to accomplish through the mentorship relationship. Clear and open communication is also important. Communication on goals, successes, challenges and barriers.”

Her advice to professional who are getting into mentorship or may be interested, “This is a very rewarding journey and I would encourage people to do it to help grow young leaders for tomorrow. Young people can look at problems with fresh eyes and bring innovative solutions. Mentorship requires consistent effort from both parties, so mentors need to be ready to put in the time and effort to see results.”

“I have been very blessed to have met wonderful professionals who have mentored me and guided me in my career journey. This is my way of paying it forward.”

Her favourite quote: ‘Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides; Just like hopes springing high, Still I will rise’ Maya Angelou

 

Two packets of Biscuits; the lifeline!

I will tell the story of a teen girl who was told that she was not enough. She is an average girl in most aspects; neither tall nor short, slim- but not too slim 😊 and her heart might not be big enough to accommodate everyone and everything that the world throws at her. She is just a girl who was never enough for anything. All she ever went through her teenage life was questions on her thoughts, on God’s timing- was it really the best, slight sense of humour and sarcasm, and just how boring and dull life could be.

She grew sorry and confused. She was sorry for breathing fresh air in a space she should have called home and sorry for taking up space that probably would have been meaningful to someone else. She grew tired of how meaningless life had become, she decided the only way out was taking her own life, but just before she did, she decided to talk to her brother about it.

Siz, mind telling me why you are tired?”

“I am just tired”

“Do you know the lord’s prayer” (stupid question, she thought)

“Who doesn’t and just where has God been the entire time?”

“Okay just say it, sleep and I will call you at tomorrow at 6 am”

She never said amen to that prayer. She must have snoozed off like Adam did before his rib was taken. When she woke up, my suicidal plan was off, it had just failed. This was a reminder that God had not taken his time giving her life just to watch her take it unjustly.  When she woke up, her journey to dealing with pain begun, thanks to her brother who offered a leaning shoulder.

If her memory serves her right, those are the exact details of that story. By not closing her chapter, she started taking in lessons. Lesson 1; the strength of a woman is known through her grace to dance even when chaos show up at her doorstep. Later, she set out to join the male-dominated IT field where she recently started an initiative set out to advocate for safe and thoughtful cyber practices. It was around the same period that I came across an ELF ad of the next intake. She never knew of ELF’s existence, but she decided to give it a chance. To date, she has no regrets.

At ELF, she was welcomed with warm smiles, given affirming words by the team that she met and given two packets of biscuits as headed home. At that point she knew this journey, the people in it and everything about it was sacred. True to her expectations, the journey has been amazing.

The greatest lesson from ELF was that sometimes people tend to take away what we hold dearly, we may hit rock bottom in life, but it is such moments that help us realize on what’s important in life.

Since her graduation from ELF, she has refined a few things at in her CyberMakini initiative and she is about to launch the first program that will educate and create awareness to people on cyber offences and crimes.

In July this year, which happens to be her birthday month, she kept thinking to herself what she could do to meaningfully influence her small community of young people that hasn’t grown weary of trying, amidst the pandemic and poor governance in the country. After juggling various ideas, she settled on telling stories of the Millennial generation. Having experienced the cruelty and negative vibes that exist around the generation, she felt it was time to put out stories and clarify on various issues. The program dubbed #31Days31Millennials was to consistently share stories of their works, roles in impacting the society and building enterprises, and passions of different millennials for the 31 days of July. The feedback was amazing at first, this pushed her into doing more and further extending the program. To this end, the program runs every Sunday and Wednesday of the week.

The stories are mind blowing and inspiring. Most of the millennials who have been featured on the platform have been met with unkind words, discouragements, and ridicule. Despite this, they have persistently challenged the status quo and are trying their best to shake things up and stand up to be counted as heroes in this century. All she wants is to tell stories, stories that will change perspectives, stories that will encourage and motivate a generation, stories that will brighten up days and influence change.

You may be wondering, who is she. I am Ann Mercy Wairimu and I am more than enough.

For the longest time, I have tried to run away from my assignments and callings in life, but I have always found myself gravitating towards my purpose. I have always felt a fire in me, a fire that will not stop burning, one that continually defines my current self. But I have not made use of it previously.

Today, I am all grown, I am committed to my destiny and I am working towards fulfilling my purpose in life. I still recall the two packets of biscuits that I got during my ELF interview, this always acts as a reminder that I have a home, a safe place, a heaven for young people with brilliant ideas and burning desires.

In life, blessings come in many forms, mine came through ELF, I found myself, I am alive, I am playing a role, one that I hope will have impact.

By: AnnMercy Wairimu, ELF Cohort 7

We can all be leaders in our own right, if we first learn how to lead ourselves.

Rarely do you find programs that recognize the many facets of life, commonly, you will stumble upon leadership programs, that only focus on textbook principles, which end up hoodwinking you into believing that Leadership is this complex thing, that is only a preserve for the “chosen” few, yet nothing could be further from the truth, as I have come to learn.

The African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) has shown me that there is a program that is willing to recognize and nurture my personality, story, faith, influence, leadership potential, whilst challenging me to reconsider my circumstances in line with the Word of God. In all honesty, I joined ABLI with no expectations. The little I had heard about the program promised a great deal and I was a little skeptical about how it could all be done online. But, from the first session, the program exceeded everything I thought it would be.

For starters, I had imagined that the participants would not interact, and simply consume what was being taught. I had also imagined that it would be a ‘top-down’ approach where only the presenters would speak. But from the get-go, we were encouraged to speak up and share our ideas, and the presenters welcomed questions and contributions. Even though we have not been able to meet physically, I feel as though I have gotten a chance to meet new people and learn a lot from them.

I have particularly enjoyed the course content. My favourite class was the first, when we learnt about our personality types and how this affects our leadership and working style. I feel like it gave me assurance that I do not have to be an extrovert to succeed as a leader. It was encouraging to learn something that is obvious but still had not hit home- that everyone is made different and has what it takes to succeed. Every session is so different from the last, but still just as important. It is evident to me that the content was intentionally put together to cater for our whole lives, rather than just our lives as leaders. ABLI has taught me not simply what a leader does, but who a leader is. To my surprise, leadership is not defined by recognition, praise or position. We can all be leaders in our own right, in our spheres of influence, if we first learn how to lead ourselves.

Being in this program alongside over 100 like-minded individuals, has restored my hope in our nation’s leadership potential. It is particularly encouraging to see that we are all different, but still choose to come together each week to listen, learn, and open our minds to the truth that we do not know it all.

Some things in life are worth putting off for later, ABLI certainly is not one of those things. I am super grateful to the Emerging Leaders foundation and to the Bible Society of Kenya for making this program available. From it, I have found a community of Christ-centered leaders.

 

By:Tyler Hawi Ayah- ABLI 2020