Susan Wavinya: Bringing Back Hope in her society

Being a mother at 17 was the turning point for Susan Wavinya Wairimu. She didn’t let her dreams and visions to be daunted. Susan, who is currently her cohort’s president decided to try a hand at ELF to see feed her curiosity on everything that goes on in the organization and understand herself in a better way.

“I remember applying for ELF in 2017, half-way though I gave up but found myself applying for the same 2 years later. My passion for leadership, mentorship and governance just couldn’t let me surrender on this chance.”

Susan decided to forward her name as a presidential candidate for her cohort, where she was the only lady contesting. “I didn’t think of myself winning, let me be honest. During the elections I was very impatient and pessimistic. Some of my fellows were raising my hopes of winning; I had to keep calm and wait for the moment.” The elections provided valuable lessons to Susan but one of the greatest lessons was strategy; coming up with good strategies is important not only when seeking votes but in life.

No one is answerable for your failure, if you have faith and purpose then God will surely see you through in what you desire to achieve.

Currently, Susan is a Human Resource Management student at Ngong Technical and vocational College and serves as the charter president of the student’s council at the same institution. Besides this, she formed an organization – House of Hope- that mentors, motivates and advocates for the rights of young mothers in Ngong Mathare slum, where she grew up. In November last year, Susan had her first mentorship session for young mothers in the area and she was able to reach 77 young mothers in the area, did a menstrual talk and distributed sanitary towels. She looks forward to hosting another session this month to celebrate women and gift them with clothing to appreciate their beauty and the efforts they put to raise their kids and sustain themselves.

“I believe that no woman should be discriminated or criticized for making the choice of being a mum at a tender age, what we have to do is give them a shoulder to lean on and allow them pursue their dreams. I am looking forward to having several activities that will help young women earn a living and get into leadership and have soft skills,” Susan

Further, she also leads in the mentorship of young girls who are in school.

“The training that I got at ELF and the sessions that we had also boosted my knowledge and helped improve how I carried out my duties.”

Despite all challenges encountered along the way, she desires to be an ambassador for the youths and young women at the UN or any other organization that will believe her dreams and welcome her to be part.

Susan is not ready to give up on her dreams, she believes that one must fight through all challenges that come along. “Many are the times when we give up on our dreams by complaining about lack of resources but my encouragement is keep pushing for it, if I am able to achieve and impact lives despite all that I go through, then pursue your purpose passionately and the resource and rewards will follow.”

“No one is answerable for your failure, if you have faith and purpose then God will surely see you through in what you desire to achieve.”

We celebrate Susan and her efforts in creating impact in her society.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#Never give up.

 

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

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

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

“Challenges could sometimes be an opportunity to be great”

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Opportunities Galore: Conserving the Environment While Saving for the Future

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Dennis Leiyan: Leading Change in Kajiado County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Alumni of the Week: Cynthia Nyongesa

Cynthia runs a personal blog (cynthiauntamed.com) where she writes stories of young Africans who are positively impacting their communities. She is strategic in the issues she wants to write about. She was part of ELF’s leadership program in 2017 where she learnt the power of using her voice through the different films that she watches. She uses her skills to speak up on social issues in the society.
Currently, Cynthia is working on relaunching her blog and brand to align with encouraging the youth to be global citizens. Since graduating from ELF, she has had the chance to work as a Youth Advocate with UNICEF Kenya where she continues to use her writing and public speaking skills. In addition, she is a Generation Unlimited Youth Ambassador for Kenya where she engages at the global level to advocate for employment and education for young people.

Cynthia has ambitions of being a well known and paid public speaker as well as a brand ambassador for programs/projects that involve empowering the youth and children on issues ranging from education to employment.

Her favorite quote is by Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
We celebrate Cynthia and her efforts in being a change agent.