Walking Through Mentorship- Yvonne Nkatha

I have been at home for over six months since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country. During this period, I encountered a call for application for My Sisters’ Keeper, a program meant to train female health practitioners on accountability. At first, I puzzled on what the program would be about several times. Eventually, after frequent checks, I decided to apply.

During the first day of our one on one meetings, I felt great joy just for being there. The program was scheduled to be virtual but for some reason, we were called in for the face to face meeting. My excitement surpassed the launching which has been held roughly 3 weeks prior. Seeing other female health practitioners from various cadres in the same room with me was very fulfilling. There is something that glows in me when I see women winning.

The first session was on self-awareness. I have previously gone through a self-awareness program but I sat and listened. The speaker took us gently on various aspects of knowing our selves and how it helps us in our daily lives. Her delivery of the content was immaculate.

During the session, we discussed how we view other people whether good or bad with the words we describe them and how it affects us and what it says about us. We are challenged on whether we are the same people when in public or private. We were taken through a self-journey evaluation and how we can better it. The most remarkable statement to me was everybody has their journey, we can negotiate with ourselves but not to procrastinate and never to move the goal post.

The next session was about personalities. I have done some of the personality tests but this was the most fun session I have ever had. The facilitators were a couple with completely different personalities and they used themselves as examples. I used to think that I am an introvert but realized that I am a chilled extrovert. The most notable thing was that it is alright to be different and by knowing so, we can maximize on our potential and have more impact.

The last session was on life mapping and storytelling. I have had a chance to hear people tell their stories before but when I last tried, I failed at the ending. The facilitator took us through his story which was deeply moving. We were challenged to chart down our life maps and tell a story out of it. At first, it looked like a difficult task but when I put it on paper, it was very easy. I got a chance to tell my story, share on my journey. This was my first experience

I love writing and days after the training I got inspired on how I can write and tell more stories. Check out for my first book that will be out soon. Thank you, ELF for selecting me to be part of this amazing journey.

 

Written By: Yvonne Kiogora, Clinical and Public specialist, writer and lover of life.
Check out her blog: https://nkathakiogora.home.blog/ 

 

The Nexus between Leadership and Discipline

Imagine jumping out of a skydiving plane and discovering your parachute doesn’t work. What memories would flash before you? Now imagine the parachute opened. How differently would you act when you landed?

I grew up thinking that being a leader was all about giving orders and being an untouchable figure. I have since realized I was all wrong.

It is unfortunate that most leaders today have distorted value sets, living in opulence and influencing corruption which holds back socio-economic progress threatening peace, security, and stability. As many young leaders try to stand for the truth with their well-guarded value sets, it has been impossible due to the leadership vacuum experienced across Africa, where dissent is crushed and alternative views are discarded, culminating in low accountability. This explains why most of the African countries continually experience bad governance, poor infrastructure, high taxation, poor border crossing policies and inequitable developments. Could this be because of leaders do not understand what leadership means and what it means to be a disciplined leader?

So, where does leadership and discipline adjoin?

Leaders are individuals who do things that failures are not willing to do even though they might not like doing them either. They have the discipline to do what they know to be important and right versus what is easy and fun as quoted by Robin Sharma.

A good example of a great leader is Tom Mboya, who massively influenced social and political revolutions in Kenya through trade unions, his writing and his value for friendship when he fought for the release of Jomo Kenyatta and other leaders who had been imprisoned.

A second example is Thomas Sankara, an army captain who took power during a coup d’état and one who strongly believed in changing foreign and domestic policies to influence change in his country. Often remembered through one of his powerful quotes, ‘while revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.’

These stories paint determination, commitment, hope, purposefulness, perseverance, and selflessness in the hearts of many across Africa. Celebrated every day, not because of the properties they possessed but the values, they shared with their people in their journey of leadership that were rooted in proper discipline and mastery.

This affirms that leadership is more of what you do every day, by choosing to move away from doing it to being it. On the other hand, discipline equals freedom which creates the power to more flexibility and control over every personal aspect of your life and that makes a great leader. In the space of clear principles and intentionality, you find honor and the discipline to own the results of what you do and will yield your space with influence to call the shots because unconsciously you create trust within and without.

In the words of Peter Drucker, “You can either take action or you can hang back and hope for a miracle. Miracles are great, but they are so unpredictable.”  This just emphasizes that in real leadership there is a mandate for a leader to have command of who they are and what they stand for. Being self-authentic and willing to take in the knowledge of personal mastery and the only enemy to this is fear. Fear that everyone won’t love you: That your choices will not make any difference as compared to past leaders forgetting that every human being is as powerful in the different purposes we serve.

It would be fulfilling to see young people support a political candidate who is not driven by self-interest, but their concepts, principles and the peoples’ need. Unfortunately, the opposite is what we constantly experience.

By being disciplined and authentic, you get the freedom to work under your own values, owning your voice and bringing the best out of yourself. This requires only fur critical skills; vision, influence, implementation and execution.

In the spirit of the national values that demands of patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy and participation of the people amongst others, it is my call to all leaders and citizens of this great nation to choose service, not for you but for us all. Choosing Kenya and its people over self and choosing to push aside mediocrity and bad governance. Let us all champion for good leadership that is founded on self-discipline and the power of an excellent character.

As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” As Africans we must be able to deal with our problems. Help from outside is alright, but we must learn to be responsible for our own attitudes and discipline. We should be dedicated to lead with discipline and that’s how change is going to be part and parcel of us.”

So, my fellow Changemakers:

Cherish your visions.

Cherish your ideals.

Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts.

For out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment, of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.

Each of us has an opportunity in this complex and noisy world to make some time each day to reflect on the how short life is, strengthen our commitment to goodness and then step out onto the street with a heart full of love.

Will you be hurt? Yes.

Will you be misunderstood? Yes.

Will you feel like closing? Of course.

To stand in the fires of challenge, resistance and adversity and still maintain your fundamental decency is the mark of genuine heroism.

This world needs heroes, you are one.

 

By: Edward Kipkalya, Governance Program Officer

Never underestimate the power of dreams- George Kombe

George Kombe Kagohu currently works with the county government of Kilifi as a Medical Social Worker and attached at Malindi level 4 hospital. He is also an environmental conservatist working with youth in his community in tree planting and environmental cleanups.

Since his time with ELF as a mentee in 2019, he has been able to engage in a number of forums, online and offline with his new found knowledge.

Before joining ELF, Kombe had no idea of how being a what being a leader was all about, what Africanism was and what roles am he to play in the society as a young person.

His greatest take from the ELF was the great knowledge and skills that he acquired from the ELF which have in turn led him to be elected as a coastal regional chairperson in the association of social workers.

“I tried advocacy before joining ELF though had little knowledge on leadership. I tried to assist a friend clinch an MCA’s position. We lost the position but didn’t loose on hope.”

“ELF has had great influence on my life. I was recently voted as a representative at UNDP- REED+ project, this goes back to the power I got at ELF. I have managed to influence several youth groups in my region to start and implement programmes on environmental conservation.”

His most difficulty moments in his journey so far go back to his time as a mentee at ELF. “I used to travel every weekend from Malindi to Nairobi which was a bit expensive for me, bearing in mind I was a family man at the time. I tried my best to involve the political class in my area I managed to get an assistance on the fee required and some part of transport expenses.”

After his time with ELF, George went back to his society and ventured into business, where he registered his own company. Currently, he runs a business, selling cleaning detergents to institutions and individuals. He has managed to create employment for three young people and offered training to many more in the community. His lessons at ELF have helped him earn from a side business despite having a full-time job.

Three lessons that I have learned

  1. Illiteracy can only be defined by those who refuse to learn, unlearn and relearn
  2. Leadership and governance are living subjects that tend to change with time and to some depending with the environment.
  3. Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried a new thing.

His next goals is to make sure that more young people acquire the knowledge and skills that he got from ELF and encourage them to put into practice.

“It is my responsibility to change this world and if can’t change 100 people then let me change only one. But again I ask them to start where one is.”

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit.”

Be Intentional – Jane Mutheu

It has been with so much greatness to be a part of ABLI as there was always a take away every Tuesday. I am Jane Mutheu Musembi passionate about Tech may it be in the morning, evening, or noontime. The one thing that got my attention with ABLI was the leadership journey which was coupled up with so many things.

I have interacted with a former ELF alumnus (Steven Muasya) and the leadership skill he portrays in different situations are always outstanding. We always know that when we need someone to talk to the youth he was the one because he would do decode heavy messages using a simple language understandable to his audience.

My journey started when Stella Cheboi called one afternoon as I was buying a movie with the question, “If you were a bicycle, which part would you want to be?” My eyes started to look for a bicycle nearby so that I could relate well, given that it’s not the one thing I interact with daily. You can be sure after that I was ready to start the sessions.

We started with introductions of who we are, what we do, and what we like. This was the perfect pace-setter for the sessions. I was challenged by some of the profiles my fellow ABLI mentees had and this made me more eager to know what made the difference.  The two things that I was expecting from the sessions were, “What does ABLI have for us and what can I learn from the others.”

Personality-types was the first session we had with the facilitators and it was a very interactive session. Getting to know who I am in terms of my personality gave a lot of meaning as to why I do things in a certain way. Emotional Intelligence came after, which was so deep that we ended up having the discussion at our Youth Ministry at AIC Kasarani. We spent 3 weeks just trying to understand the mind-blowing topic. I still carry the discussion in both sessions with me every day. It is so amazing walking and interacting with people and you just get to understand where they stand. For sure it does away with unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings thanks to ABLI.

Storytelling and life mapping came in with Jim India as our facilitator and it took us back in the days and it gave us a view of how life stands out both negative and positive. As I thought of what stood out for me I realized that life will always be empty and it’s up to you to fill it with beautiful memories and experiences. Letters to self, a session we also had, still holds the record of the longest assignment given to me by me. Those who were in the session can easily relate to that as I am still counting months to when I get to open my letter.

Every other session that we have had has always come with its weight and awesomeness. Let’s take public speaking, for instance, the facilitator made sure that we all had something to say before the session ended. I had my fingers crossed throughout the session so that am not given a hard question to speak about and luckily enough the charm worked but you can be sure I answered a question before the end of it all.

The things I have learnt from the sessions  are so many that every day, I plan to share lessons around. I am grateful for the opportunity. To ELF and BSK, thank you for getting this training out here.

 

By: Jane Mutheu, ABLI 2020

LETS EMBRACE CLIMATE ACTION AS A BUSINESS

Life is a long journey, and if you have an idea of where you are going, finding the right mentor or platform can be a gamechanger. I recently got hitched to one which changed my perspective for the foreseeable future; a 3-day stakeholders convening by UNDP that sought to engage young people in the environmental space on Redd+ readiness and nature-based entrepreneurship. Gladly, I would say sometimes an ember is all we need. A trigger of some sort, a spark. Somehow, we became more confident of the possibilities of the future.

The forum was largely centered on the environmental ecosystem, biodiversity, and entrepreneurship in nature-based businesses. Youth entrepreneurship, investment in the forest value chain and incentivizing climate action as a business were drummed up as a possible buy-in for the youth. Top of the objectives was to scale up climate change projects ran by young people and make them commercially viable. To that end, various partners including Ministry of Environment, Kenya Forests Research Institute, Kenya Forests Services, Net Fund Green Innovation and Youth Enterprise Funds were netted in to demonstrate the massive scope of potential and opportunities that were up for exploitation by young people. Sadly, despite the youth being the future of our country, youth remain absent in the environmental sector or at best limited.

There is need to challenge the idea that Africa’s extraordinary biodiversity and wildlife is a diminishing resource that needs to be protected because conservation efforts need to generate wealth for local people from sustainable businesses based on natural products.

World over, climate change is set to become the most fatal crisis of our time!  While climate change remains irrefutable, we are not too late to stem the tide, and this requires fundamental transformation in all aspects of our society. From how we power our economies, use our land, grow food and the transportation modes we adopt. Trees are finally getting the international recognition they deserve, thanks to their potential as a natural climate solution for absorbing carbon, restoring vital ecosystems, and helping humans adopt to a rapidly changing climate. In a perfect storm that includes Covid-19 and the intertwined crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, we need bold moves to build back better. Conserving, restoring, and growing one trillion trees all over the world by 2030 can help anchor our recovery, delivering equitable environmental progress and livelihood opportunities for the people who need them most.

In Kenya, forests remain the best opportunity to mitigate climate change. The Kenyan government aims at achieving a 10% tree cover by 2022, a rather ambitious fete. That means a whooping 1.8 billion trees must be grown, not planted. Statistics have it that only 10% of the trees planted survive. Tree growth, being an enabler of the Big 4 agenda, is an opportunity for young people to create green jobs through activities such as seed bulking, nurseries establishment, reforestation, afforestation, agroforestry, and sustainable forest management. Another sector to benefit massively from forestry is manufacturing as Kenya is a net importer of forest products. Plantations of Bamboo, Melia tree, sandal wood, and jojoba remain lucrative options for young people in considering forestry as a business. The future of forests in our country lies in investing in commercial forestry outside the gazzetted forests. Honey farming and butterfly farming are other worthwhile projects that promise decent livelihood opportunities for young people.

You see, nothing makes happy than being part of a resilient community that works too hard to fight for mother earth. A clarion call by the young people who attended the UNDP Stakeholders Forum was that time was nigh to swim with the sharks in the climate action. The youth do not know enough to be cautious and therefore they should attempt the impossible-and achieve it, generation after generation. The key to 1.8 billion trees? Many hands. This ambitious goal can only count on power players to deliver the actions that are needed. We must get all hands-on deck, including community groups and the young people of our beloved nation. This dream will require us to dig deeper than we ever wanted, always a little further! 10% tree cover can become a reality.

It became our audacious dream. We are the ones we have been waiting for!

 

By: Marvin Kimani, ELF

“Only Youth can decide the future,” Ken Ruto

Kenneth Ruto is a strong advocate of sexual reproductive health. Born and raised in Uasin Gishu county. He developed his passion to serve and lead the community when in high school where he got elected as a captain. This early responsibility gave him motivation to fight for the rights of students from poor families who are not in positions to raise school fees.

Currently, he is the Tunaweza County coordinator Uasin Gishu, leading a team of 20 fellows.

Before coming across ELF, Ken sued to mobilize young people to demonstrate against the county government, making noise with no idea of the best ways to approach duty bearers. It was hard for him to access important information on issues affecting young people in the county. His relationship with county officials was hanging in the balance as he was constantly accused of criticizing them without laying facts.

This went on until 2017 when he got an opportunity to be one of the mentees at ELF. The training transformed his life and built his capacity as he was able to get an understanding of the various ways to go through when approaching and dealing with issues affecting young people. This, further led him to a personal slogan which he stands by to this day “Noise to Voice.’

“The training equipped me well enough with knowledge to become a trainer and moderator. I have been able to mentor several young people on the Budget making process, public participation, and other governance issues. The relationship and cooperation with county government of Uasin Gishu is in high gear as compared with past years,” Ken adds.

He has since utilized knowledge and skills acquired by initiating his own project by the name ‘Youth Rights’ where he empowers young people to participate in key decision-making processes in his community. Through this initiative, he has been able to directly reach hundreds of youths directly and thousands indirectly.

He also runs an activity by the name ‘Our Adolescents’ which seeks to sensitize adolescent youths on sexual reproductive health and rights. Several young adults have been empowered through this and he aims to spread out his wings to more.

He has done this despite facing numerous challenges form his colleagues and resistance form politicians who feel threatened by his acts and deeds. However, Ken is not about to relent in his fight for the representation of young people in public spaces and sexual reproductive health.

His parting shot ‘Only Youth can decide the future’

Vijana Tunaweza

“Give your very best wherever you are, whatever the time” Maurice Omondi

Maurice Omondi is an international expert with sixteen years’ experience working in the non-profit sector. He has served as an Executive Director, Interim Country Director, Regional Fundraising Advisor, Sponsorship Funding Coordinator and Program Officer. He has experience in leading non-profit organizations strategy, coordinating multicultural teams and resource mobilization. Besides, he is a husband and a father.

He enjoys providing mentorship in the areas of personal development, non-profit sector leadership and philanthropy.

To him, mentorship is about shared learning between the mentor and the mentee. “It is about the mentor sharing their career journey, the lessons they have learnt along the way and some tips on how they managed to overcome obstacles. It is also providing inspiration to the mentee and enabling him/her to discover their own path and pursue it to the fullest. On the other hand, the mentee gets a chance to share their own dreams while seeking for guidance where necessary. The mentor also gets a chance to learn new things from the perspective of the mentee.”

He is driven into mentorship by a deep desire to nurture and see every human prosper and excel while at the same time making the world a better place.

Maurice further states that everyone needs a mentor in the current world which is fast moving and changing. “One gets the opportunity to learn about themselves, their strengths and areas for improvement and what they can do to solve some of the pressing problems in the world right at the point where they are in. Many people expect someone else to solve the problems around them and end up not doing anything themselves. Through mentorship, an individual gets a chance to learn from the mentor new ideas, or a new dimension to a problem and then devise practical solutions to overcome them.”

Mentorship, however, is not all fun and laugh. Mentors experience low moments in the journey and so does Maurice. “I have experienced low moments especially when I am not able to immediately provide a solution to a mentee or when I am going through a situation which I feel might not be inspiring to mentees. I have figured out that I am human and therefore, experience ups and downs in life. I have thus shared my low moments with my mentees and in fact received what I can call reverse mentorship!”

His advice to new mentors, “Everybody has something to give out. You do not have to be in a big position somewhere to be a mentor. You do not have to be famous or have material riches. What you need to have is the readiness to listen and to offer advice when requested. Your otherwise ordinary life experiences might help someone else struggling with finding a bearing in life. You can share your own successes however small. You can inspire someone to embrace the common good irrespective of your religious or cultural background.”

 

Lessons from Eliud Kipchoge’s deferred victory

How are you today? Have you recovered from the shock wave after the Sunday London Marathon? I still feel unwell and numb. I have tried moving on, but it is taking me longer than I had anticipated. I am optimistic that I will get over it. The world was watching and taking Kenyan tea. And Kenyan tea gave #LondonMarathon a new lease of life as we accompanied our athletes at the comfort of our homes during the race.

Like many other Kenyans, I was so sure Kenyan all-time favourite, greatest Marathoner of all times, Kenyan legend, history maker, the mighty Eliud Kipchoge was definitely going to win the 40th London Marathon that took place in London, on 4th October, 2020. Not only did he postpone his win, but he also was not anywhere close to the top three. He finished the race at position eight. Imagine that!

People remarked and expressed their utter shock. Of course, it was shocking, not only for Kenyans but for the whole world. How possible could it have been that Kipchogi (as the commentators were calling him) was not bringing home the much-awaited victory? How? What had happened to him? I followed the various conversations online, and yes, we were all racing with him, adrenaline levels rising and finally making peace with the fact that Kipchogi was not making it. I prayed, I paced up and down and hoped for a miracle, but alas, no, this time around, it wasn’t his chance. The odds were against him. I made peace as my eyes shed tears. For a while, I had forgotten that there was another Kenyan on the race, Vincent Kipchumba because my eyes were glued and fixed on the G.O.A.T, Eliud Kipchoge. I found the commentators very boring and annoying. I wished they kept quiet and let Eliud be. Later, I understood, just like the rest of us, they too were in shock.

After the race came to an end, I tried reflecting on what had just happened and wondered if at all there were lessons I could pick out of Eliud’s postponement of the big title. These are some of my take-homes. My friend Ngele Ali, whom we conversed about the race, said, ” Well, we can co-write this blog post. Let’s share our lessons.” So here we go. The first three are my most significant take-homes, and the last three are Ngele’s.

  1. After crying, I wiped my tears. In every race, there will always be a winner. If you are in the race, always remember, there will be two outcomes. You could be the winner or someone else could. Whether you win today or win next time, as long as you stay the cause, you still win. Focus on the finishing line. There were many odds against Kipchoge. London Marathon always takes place in the Summer. This time it was taking place in a very unfamiliar setup. Training in high altitude then racing in low altitude in autumn (cold, windy and wet grounds), new circuit, his main person Kenenisa Bekele had pulled out of the race last minute, no fans to cheer him on board and assure him that he was doing just fine. In a usual setup, more than 500,000 fans will be gathered along the circuit cheering on the runners. COVID-19 happened, saw the marathon postponed and now only a handful of people were present. The marathon appeared jinxed from the word go. Christmas comes once a year. Eliud will give us more than one Christmas in a year. We must not forget this. It is no mean feat holding titles for more than five rounds. We still have a reason to celebrate him for keeping our country on the map. We know Kenya as the ultimate #HomeOfChampions. No one debates about this.
  1. It is tough being a winner. It’s even tougher being an all-time winner in public. Here is the problem with multiple wins because it comes with expectations and pressures. Your fans world over think you can never lose. But you know what, victory is for those who stay the cause! Eliud Kipchoge did precisely that! Life is a series of wins and losses! Your biggest success isn’t how many times you win! Success is a measure of how high we bounce after hitting rock bottom. Eliud Kipchoge has achieved a lot, and we can only wish him the best after his promise that “I will be back.” He, therefore, is #StillMyHero. “London loves you,” said the commentator as she interviewed him at the finishing line! I fought my tears as I watched Eliud Kipchoge struggle to express his disappointment! I, too, could feel his regret. But, be consoled Eliud. We are happy and proud of you. Be encouraged! This is only but a slight setback!
  2. Sometimes as human beings, we are so blinded and only focus on our perceptions of what success looks like, we miss the bigger picture. Yes, the majority of us had all our eyes glued on Kipchoge, we forgot that we had a full list of Kenyans who represented us at the London Marathon. And while at it, we had Brigid Kosgei who won a Gold medal in the Women’s race. We had Vincent Kipchumba who came third and won Kenya a Bronze medal in the men’s race. We also had many others including Vivian Cheruiyot, Marius Kipserem, Gideon Kipketer, Benson Kipruto, Edith Chelimo, Valary Jemeli and Ruth Chepng’ etich. We must not mourn Eliud’s loss and forget to celebrate these winners. They too worked so hard and deserved all the accolades on earth. Eliud proved to us that he is human and it is ok to fail. All human beings have their share of ups and downs. But we must also learn to accept the reality of life, that life is a mix of ups and downs, highs and lows, wins and losses. In every win and loss, there are lessons to be learnt. Mighty is not the man who wins all the time, but one who falls and picks himself up, ready to fight another day. Eliud promised, ‘I will be back.’
  3. Well, my big lesson from yesterday, life has no guarantees. As humans, we plan, but God is the ultimate chess player. Also, nothing just happens. What are the odds that Eliud with all his fitness regimen would have a muscle cramp and an ear blockage after he started off so well? Kipchoge’s experience reminded us that he is human, and sometimes the odds against us can be insurmountable, but it’s our will and resilience that gets us to the finish line. I learned a great lesson in perseverance.
  4. Eliud taught me yesterday that humility and grace are what set us apart from the crowd. As we win, we are called upon to be graceful and humble but imagine being able to exercise the same at a moment of defeat! I guess it takes a great sense of humility and grace to carry us forward onto the next challenge even as we miss the mark, and our success is deferred. As he recounted his experience, I loved his sense of sportsmanship – as he quipped “that’s the nature of sport” a true realisation that we win some and lose some, sometimes.
  5. In my observation, Kipchoge has reached his Ikigai – his “reason for being”. Kipchoge’s sport isn’t just about winning a race, it’s far much more profound, and it’s about humanity and shining light, especially where hope and aspiration lacks. The 2020 London marathon will remain memorable, not because the G.O.A.T was “dethroned” but because of the lesson, I learned through Kipchoge’s experience – even when one’s spirit feels defeated – show up!. His difficulties at the much-anticipated, most-watched marathon delivered some valuable lessons to us. When we find out our true reason for being, a deferred victory or success becomes nothing but a speedbump. His phrase, “I still have more marathons in me” sums up what a purposeful life’s journey is all about and I can’t wait to see him back on the track once again!

Writing this blog post felt very therapeutic for me. In Dolly Parton’s words, “You will never do a whole lot unless you are brave enough to try.” Are there any lessons that you picked from Eliud’s incredible performance last Sunday? Please share.

 

Written by Patience Nyange; Board Member and Mentor at ELF, Council Member at Media Council of Kenya and a #CheveningScholar2019.
Check out her blog: http://www.patiencenyange.com/

“I want to be a leader with a difference” Brian Seli

Brian Seli is a vibrant young man who champions for Devolution and Governance under Emerging Leaders Foundation- Tunaweza Program. He currently works with Emerging Leaders Foundation as the Coordinator of Bungoma County.

He has led advocacy for the implementation of the Youth policy in the County Assembly, inclusion of youths in budget making process through public participation. He is a  lways outgoing and has done mass sensitization on many occasions in the spheres of youths. Brian is passionate about politics, public finance, public policy and cycling, devolved governance and many more. He also commentates on current political and social issues in Kenya.

Being the current Bungoma county coordinator  has given him life lessons. Previously, he was a naïve youth who had no objective in life regardless of having come up with an Empowerment group called The Royal Empowerment Team which collapsed in two years’ time. “I never knew the necessary offices I could visit, and I also never had the courage to talk before people. I used to think that ‘a comrade is always right’ notion but alas, it was a total lie,” Brian Seli.

“When I was invited to attend this great training, I was so glad. The training gave me a realistic understanding of myself. It also gave me power to do better than I was before. I now knew what the CIDP, ADP, CFSP and many more documents were. I gained the courage to share with others and even at times considered myself a great scholar of ELF. My greatest take was that I discover the potentials and abilities in me, I connect with the relevant personalities and then I impact the same to the society at large.”

Since then he has been a vocal advocate on the formulation of the youth policy and attended public participation to take part in budget making processes and in his county.

“The formation of the Youth Policy will be such a great integral part of my work. It will open more avenues for youths since I made sure that at least every ministry has a youth desk fully owned by youths. Together with the support of my team, we ensured that maternal health care is such a crucial thing. We called for the improvement of the maternal health sector. No woman has to die just out of negligence and so forth.”

Besides advocacy, Brian is a leading voice on teenage pregnancies and makes rounds in sub-counties talking to young girls on the same and distributing sanitary towels to those that may be lacking. At the peak of the pandemic, Seli started an awareness creation program in Bungoma town where he uses posters on measures that needed to be taken to control the curve and distributed free masks to residents, majorly mothers and teenagers.

Brian Seli and his team take part in a sanitary towels drive.

Seli desires to further his leadership skills and grow into a formidable leader, not only in his county but nationally. “I really have a desire to grow my leadership skills. I want to be a leader with a difference, a leader who is vigilant and ready to work. A leader who will never sleep until something good has happened. I refuse to be used and bought off cheaply. I believe that one day, my desires will be achieved.”

“Elf has given me the opportunity to lobby for the Youth and even ensure that devolution is working as expected. I have learnt that one must believe in himself to do all this. I am ready to be a mirror of success.”

In his line of work, he has encountered challenges that have affected/ slowed down his work. Being a university student, he initially found it challenging to be the team lead as he thought it was too much for him, but he has since overcome this. Working with young people has also opened his eyes to how ignorant they are and how they neglect public forums, with some registering with no attendance. This has constantly affected his advocacy mission with numbers lowering each time he steps out to run with something.

“We are all born leaders and we have to be patient, tolerating, obedient and always stand firm. A goal be the driving force of a leader. Without clear goals, nothing can be achieved,” Brian adds.

His next goal as the Coordinator of Bungoma is to step out and mentor more young people in his county and the country. “I believe that a well natured vision leads others, I want to become someone great.”

A leader is one who knows the way,

Goes the way,

And shows the way.

 

 

“Leadership is a process of becoming”

Unprecedented life moments at times are valuable blessings with great treasure, rare opportunities to behold and be part. The new year (2020) presented a lot workload from previous year and it felt heavy and derailing, uncertainty loomed unlike other years. The desire within was to have a supervisor to oversee our regional activities which would allow me to find a fulfilling course to upgrade my studies and better myself. Coincidentally, though undecided on what to pursue in 2020, ABLI happened. The ELF advert spoke to my worries of being a young inexperienced leader and it was stamped in my heart that God wanted me in the Regional management; He was ready to equip me for service. With uncertainty of my busy work schedules, I took a bold leap of faith and the Lord caused the world to stand still in honor

Amidst Covid-19 pandemic, as light deemed for many and hope ceased, my life was gradually being re- modeled and renewed. Every session was divinely connected with my Bible study and Royal Mentorship courses I chose to pursue, an assurance that the season was ordained for me. Sufficient time to rest and review the lessons learnt helped me to internalize and do self checks particularly on my character and competency.

Well-seasoned facilitators have helped me unmask my fears/flaws/weaknesses/gaps and find the courage to confront them. Exposure to right attitude for growth and emphasis on personal effort in the making of an effective leader has challenged my status quo mentality. The nuggets of wisdom acquired are helping me build a worthwhile brand of a transformed leader. With a purposeful and intentional drive and constant practice to become an articulate public speaker, my fears are gradually melting away and am taking personal responsibility to increase my knowledge and skills in my profession through online learning and reading. Gradually, self awareness and development are helping me manage relations better. Am challenging my laid-back nature by actively participating in forums and volunteering to engage

Leadership is a process of becoming that requires commitment and devotion with humility to learn and serve. This comes with seeking growth and learning opportunities. I have learnt that character defines who we are and it takes iron to sharpen iron. Choosing to retain relativity and status quo limits, but extra effort to better oneself is a great gain.

To my young brothers and sisters, my younger self lost many opportunities by failing to be proactive, exceptional, and to stand out. Sometimes by limiting self to what I could do and fear of people’s judgments, heaping loads of work on self without self-check has made me perform dismally. However, with the course sessions offered by ELF am being modeled to a young effective leader, laying off days of old to embrace the new. I have a new perspective to lead the Regional team and use the opportunity to serve the community and advocate for justice

With my journey to becoming an influencer in community development work and policy development, am seeking opportunities and connections to grow assisted by mentors who daily challenge me to greatness. I hope to develop my life strategic plan and support my regional office to develop an organizational profile with greater impact.

Am indebted to the ELF and BSK the life transforming opportunity they accorded me. My life will impact generations and be the change and the light the world needs.

 

By: Nzembi Nzioka- Community development worker & ABLI2020 mentee.