in pursuit of purpose

The last time I had this feeling was 7 years ago in 2012. I felt joy, hope, happiness, freedom name it all when I won an award on “role of  youth in building a more democratic Kenya” organized by UNDP, amkeni wakenya and Youth Agenda. I didn’t have anyone to guide and mentor me on my passion, ELF was not there, rather, I didn’t know it existed, but deep in me I knew I had this big drive of participating, contributing and transforming our society in matters of democracy and good governance.

I followed another route which was more of computer based, profit making and money oriented but I still felt am human centered and I needed to go back. It has been a hustle, going back to school and mastering in courses of projects, participating in forums and fellowships, trying to quite but I had no courage until I met ELF 3 months ago.

So, I quit my job. Not today, 1 month ago, Friday 8/11/2019 was my last day.

My 8 -5 job that was making me good money, and with a good employer, yeah I quit it.

Why?

Because passion, conviction and self-awareness is taking action when you can’t see the whole staircase and all you can see is the next step.

For me, the next step was just to leave that office and start working on my dream job. To be a social entrepreneur and participate, work and surround myself in matters of democracy and good governance. To build my own empire, brand and bring transformational leadership to my land. To follow my dreams. To fail at my own thing. To start over. To succeed against all odds.

The training on self-awareness, leadership, good governance and Pan-Africanism, has contributed a lot to the above decision. Your (ELF) approach is so unique from others, it’s beyond skill or practical based and more of pure self-awareness of the potential we have, opportunity which are there and the direction to follow to achieve your born purpose and passion.

Elf cohort 8 gave me a platform to vie for a president though I ended up being male representative. It gave me a chance to lead a group of diverse ideologies, transformed group and am sure they will make an impact wherever they will go. The interaction with trainers and ELF staff was professional, awesome experience and very engaging. Community service was most unique one and successful since even after the attack by bees we were able to unite and deployed organised team work which made us save everyone and as well achieve our objective.

I may not have enough words to thank you, but just know am launching to my passion. As I step out, I may not talk about my future because it may not be very clear, but one day, I will speak about my present which will be my past while in future. Am forever ELF cohort 8 alumnus.

THANK YOU

 

Daniel Gitau

ELF cohort 8 male rep

Ongoza campaign

Leadership is pegged on the ability to influence individuals, families, organizations, communities and even nations. Everything, we believe, rises and falls on leadership. That is why at ELF we are obsessed with adding tools to the toolbox of young emerging leaders to prepare them for sustainable development of their societies.

Since 2012 to date, we have passionately been churning out values-based leaders across the country, deploying them in their spheres of influence to cause impact.

We are looking to raise 105 million during the Ongoza campaign to enable us scale up our program and shape the future of Kenya.

Milestones: 

In our 7 years of existence, 461 young people have directly been trained and mentored, but here is our key milestone; 108 initiatives have been started across the country. These include; businesses, CBO’s, NGO’s, community empowerment projects, pressure groups etc., which have led to societal transformation, job creation and sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of young people.

Our purpose is to build agency within every youth who comes into our program, to capacitate them to look at their environment and become solution providers; It is worth noting that 98% of our alumni are currently employed, running their own initiatives or involved in volunteerism.

42% of the average 65% alumni who join the program while not involved in anything, have started their own businesses and initiatives. 34% have been employed while another 21% are currently volunteering in different organizations.

Our Case: 

Kenya is very youthful country. The median age is 19 years, and about 80% of the population is below 35 years. To a large extent, this youthful population will determine the shape of the country’s future.

According to a survey by the Aga Khan University; 50% of the youth believe it doesn’t matter how one makes money as long as one does not end up in jail. 47% admire those who make money through hook and crook, 30% believe corruption is profitable, 73% fear to stand up for what is right for fear of retribution, while 35% of the youth would readily take or give a bribe.

That is the bad news, but here is the good news; in our 7 years of existence, and 461 directly trained, we have reached 8,000 youths. Each of our fellows is assigned a mentor who walks with them in their journey of leadership. 84% of our alumni have organized or participated in community service initiatives, taking responsibility of their communities. 61% of our alumni who joined the program while employed, took up new leadership roles during or after the program. Our program has the potential of scalability, as 78% of our alumni are currently mentoring at least 5 other young people. And of those who go through the program, 98% recommend others to join the program.

Building the Future: 

We foresee a future where young people everywhere take charge of their society, starting their own initiatives, being responsible and sustainably responding to the challenges around them. We see youth taking over leadership and leading with values, young people who can be trusted to keep their promise, who approach leadership as a service to the people, young people who embrace team work, are proud of their African identity and believe that only the best is good enough for Africa. In short, we dream of dignified societies with values-based leaders.

How:

Our model is based on the theory that an individual is best fit to drive social change in their community only after self-discovery, which in turn enables them to connect with others for impact.

Discover: – to lead others, you must first discover and master yourself. We guide participants through sessions of self-awareness.; life mapping and story telling where they get to share narratives from their personal life journeys. This process enables the young leaders to know their purpose in life.

Connect: – establishing a connection with people is the first step to having influence in many communities. We impart our young leaders with communication, debating and personal branding skills for a good first impression. We also help the leaders to connect to fellow leaders, creating a critical mass of change makers.

Impact: – leadership is about results. We guide our mentees to develop individual and collective agency i.e. the ability to take purposeful initiative, each of them becomes a solution in their societies.

We have tested the above theory for the last 7 years and seen it work, as shown in the data previously shared. We believe that with enough resources, we will scale up our program to all the 8 regions of Kenya and reach 7500 youths in 2020. In 10 years, we should have impacted 1,000,000 youths, in the process we will effectively shape the future of Kenya with young people who are rooted in values and are responsible enough to start their own initiatives.

We are asking for 105 million to scale up our program to the 8 regions of Kenya, where we will recruit 200 young emerging leaders and train them in two cohorts of 100.

Why ELF?

So far, we have received credible commendations, mentions and rewards from the following;

  • In July of 2018, President Barrack Obama mentioned the work of ELF to the whole world. Stating that we are part of Africa’s new stories, dutifully taking part in the work of ending poverty and promoting human dignity.
  • We also received the Diversity and Inclusion Award for “Youth in Leadership”, commending our work in ensuring that young people are equipped for leadership and dedicating ourselves to fostering the inclusion of young people in all spaces in society.
  • Recently, the Voice Achievers Award awarded us with, OUTSTANDING AFRICAN IMPACT AWARD WINNER OF THE YEAR 2019, for “your tremendous contribution to impacting the lives of young people in Kenya by providing them with adequate trainings and skills to become future leaders of today and tomorrow. You have excelled in your various engagements within the country which includes promoting human capacity, engaging in business enterprise and charity works thereby giving positive representation of Kenya to the rest of the world.”
  • During a recent expo by My Leader Kenya dubbed “Vijana na Biashara” we merged winner in the category of organizations that are empowering lives of the youth.

How can you take part in the Ongoza Campaign? 

You can make this possible by:

  1. Attending the gala dinner (Register Here)
  2. Or picking any of our sponsorship packages (Sponsorship package) .

Act now to secure the future;

 

 

an introverts struggle to be an extrovert

Before I joined the Emerging Leaders Foundation, I had spent a lot of time on the internet looking for platforms that dealt with youth empowerment. I then came across ELF. It took me close to two years contemplating whether I should join or not. Finally, I made the decision.

For a period of time, I’ve always felt like a failure simply because I had not discovered who I am. I am an introvert who has been struggling to become an extrovert since I always thought that to be successful in life you must be talkative. I was wrong. After going through the personality session at ELF, I changed that mentality. I accepted that I’m actually the best version of myself.

For close to 20 years I’ve always associated intelligence with high grades. But guess what? As much as it is true, an average performer can even be more intelligent and of a higher IQ. I’ll tell you why. The moment you realize who you are and make a decision towards being the best version of you, you realize that even if you’ve made mistakes in the past you can still work towards success and become the best there has ever been. I had an inner awakening after realizing that I am actually intelligent and that my personality is still okay and acceptable, there’s is this inner urge that arose from within. The desire to make a difference. A new amount of energy to work towards realization of my dreams and give back to the community.

I understood that it is normal to make mistakes and learn from them. Your past experiences can actually influence your current self and others in a positive way. I chose to let the past be and decided to work towards making the future bright. Getting to listen to other people’s stories and telling my own story was very empowering. I became aware of my passion. Yes! That’s how powerful the life mapping session was. Now I’m able to do something for the community to avoid a repetition of my story.

I met amazing souls who by the end of the day had become acquaintances. Friends who
empowered me a lot by sharing insights on their career growth as well as what they’ve been able
to do for the community. People I can work with to make this country a better place.

To cut the long story short, Emerging Leaders Foundation is the place to be. The positive impact
they make on their trainees is tremendous. They empower the heart broken, those that had given
up on life, those who gave up on working hard because of failures, and those aspiring to be better
versions of themselves.

 

Submitted by:

Shalom Musyoka.

RUN YOUR RACE, CLAIM YOUR SPACE.

We say we need space, but all we find is empty places as we don’t know what we are in a quest for. Expressively we start seeking the inner peace of discovering ourselves, and before we know it, we are more lost. In that chaos, that’s when we ironically understand who we are. For me, I got lost in the march of 2019, and I think that’s when the occasion of my storms skyrocketed. An unexpected event led to my knowledge of the Emerging Leaders Foundation and the first new page of the rest of my life begun.

Many phases many places may dazzle me, but new faces always put a smile on my face no matter the day and time. Today it was a Monday morning the mother of refreshment cocktails of opportunities, and the faces I saw screamed changes. We began with a fun introduction, in that you had to describe the person next to you and that was an excellent kick-off to team building.

Ever been asked to make a decision that requires your feelings and also logic thinking, and you just gazed unsure of your next move? Well, that’s because self-awareness of your emotional quotient and intelligent quotient hasn’t been made simpler to you. Emotional intelligence deals with self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management. With this in mind, one can understand that mind plus heart equal result, so the next time you are faced with a situation that requires logical thinking don’t put your emotions to it. Some studies suggests doing some personality tests helps one in self awareness and also decision making, in doing so you won’t justify your decisions rationally. We also participated in a storytelling art that aid one to open up to the environment around them. Honestly, it’s a scaring thing to do, allowing yourself to be vulnerable among strangers. What you don’t know is that that’s the safest space in the entire Milky way. On day one what a better way to top the cherry-like having a steamy creamy cup of tea with a bite snack.

Highly effective people have a particular rhythm that guides them in building up character. The freedom of choice inclines towards self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will all of which are either stimulus or response. Besides, these habits are the building blocks of our leadership life as new levels bring about new devils. Having the courage to allow transformation shows the acceptance of being void of capacity and competent to thirst for knowledge. Consistency is key to communication as opportunity favors the prepared, you getting my flow by now.

Ever wondered what people say about you when you not in a room? Keep in mind your name is your brand because how you package yourself is what defines you. Always delivering is a promise of saying I did it once, I can do it again.

**brain teaser read about the elevators pitch**

Gender also shows the critical hierarchy of leadership as there is no real social revolution without the liberation of women. Therefore, one ought to be diverse in culture, socialization, religion, and his/her perception as they are deadly weapons to gender inequality and empowerment. This is almost my third day, and by now some electric current of change is causing my crimson blood and the people I met on day one have found a way to my home. You know the famous saying a home is where the heart is?

The currency of life is learning as the day you stop learning; you start decaying. To be a leader is a reader and a writer as documentation is an art. With the current millennial era knowing how to harness the power of social media and using the right channels strengthens your audience. Aside from social media, public speaking should also be practiced as one has to be one on one at the forefront of change. In conclusion run in your lane as nobody is like you and everyone is destined to bear different fruits.

 

Submitted by;

Faith Nyasuguta

IMPACT STORY: HILLARY OMUONO

Hillary Omuono joined Emerging Leaders Foundation in 2017, he was part of a group of students whom we had recruited in the run-up to the elections to become ambassadors of good governance.

Today, Omuono runs an organization called G-SETI which donates school uniforms and geometrical sets to school going children besides offering mentorship and counselling to them. He chose to work with Primary School children, arguing that a lot of attention and focus has been given to High Schools and Colleges at the detriment of the little ones.

What started as a Facebook post out of a need he had identified in one of the local primary schools he had visited, has today translated into more than 500 pupils receiving geometrical sets and visits to over 50 schools.

He says that, “ELF introduced me to my true north and allowed me to think as a solution provider. I can no-longer wait for someone else to come and solve the challenges around me, I must be pro-active at all times.”

While talking to the Standard Newspaper he said, “G-SETI has opened doors for me and given me exposure that I wouldn’t have if I decided to hole myself in books. I have traveled and networked with different personalities.”

Hillary Omuono embodies the quality of our alumni; we are polishing young African women and men to become PIONEERS of their own destinies, SERVE their communities and be committed to VALUES in all their endeavors.

Featured Alumnus: Sharon Etemesi

Sharon describes herself as productive, impressive and charismatic. She is a debate and public speaking trainer, Panel Moderator and Hackathon Facilitator working with the  Kenya National Debate Council. She studied hospitality and tourism management at Pwani University.

“My ELF experience was mind shifting, as it focused deeply on my knowledge of self (which is not a one-day journey) and helped me realize just how bright my candle can shine. The mental wellness in appreciating the good and the bad in life while being in control of reactions to these situations is a priceless gift from my ELF experience.” Says Sharon.

Ms. Etemesi trains structured debate to university and high school students and private coaching professionals who are advancing their careers and need polished oratory skills. Her greatest achievement has been being unanimously elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Pan African Council of Debate for Universities. This came only 2 months after her ELF graduation, during her stint at the program, she had learnt more on Pan Africanism and Women in Leadership.

We asked Sharon to share with us a story that stands out to her from her past; “While in standard 7, the school Principal flagged me one day in parade and ordered the whole school to  not associate with me because of how notorious I was. I had no friends, no study buddies- no one in a boarding school miles away from home. I was all alone at 12 years old and I felt depressed. I hated everyone and only found peace in my mother and one teacher (Teacher Ruth) who pulled me up. I acknowledge my mistakes and realize that it was a learning curve for me. The story goes on but the bottom line was that every action attracts a reaction of equal measure.”

If Sharon were to be a color, she would be Orange because she brightens people’s moods and has infectious happiness. Her all time favorite movie is Face Off because of the story line, the movie teaches her to focus on character rather than physical appearance.

Sharon finds time to give back to ELF by training some of our cohorts on debating and public speaking. We celebrate her today and we’re excited about what she’s doing and the prospects of her future.

 

Don’t Agonize, Organize.

The title of this article is a widely used slogan and is credited to the Afro-American woman civil rights activist Florence Rae Kennedy, its popularity stems from two realities; on the one had we cringe at the pain, suffering and indignities afflicted on us, while on the other hand we are challenged as to what we can do in response.

Agonizing is a much-taken path by the youth since its easy to complain, to talk ourselves into believing that nothing we do can bring about any change, and most times we wait for the “right moment” (whatever that means). Constantly procrastinating action and rationalizing it with the fear of timing – news flash; the right time is NOW, if you choose to make it one.

Proper and collective organization is the key to the 75% of youth in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa turning their potential power into REAL power that will end historical political and economic marginalization. There is a lot of talk that the political class should hand over power/ include young people in government, but truth be told, power is hardly ever given on a silver plater, leaders have to EMERGE and EVOLVE over the period of organizing, and it is these leaders who then champion for the beginning an era of youth participation.

In Kericho county for example, a group of young people has started the journey of organizing themselves to engage fellow young people better and to participate in the governance processes of the county. What started in 2017 as a group of fifteen youths identified, trained and sent out by Emerging Leaders Foundation to start meaningful engagement with the county government and move from noise to voice, has now grown into a formidable youth working group. As of last month, the group had brought together representatives from 27 of the 30 wards.

The purpose of the newly formed Kericho Youth Leadership Network is to be the umbrella organization for all youth groups/organizations in the county for effective driving of the youth agenda, enhance youth participation in governance processes and foster attitude change through capacity building and opportunity tapping for the youth of Kericho. In other words, the vijana of Kericho want to mobilize around issues, they are tired of being on the periphery and being turned in mere spectators and cheer leaders in their own territory, they have realized something which I hope resonates with young people across the country; that yes, we can! (Tunaweza) That we are the captains of our ships; masters of our destinies and for change to occur we must desire it, we must trigger it and we must sacrifice for it.

Three key lessons from the youth of Kericho;

  1. Collective action is stronger than individual action – mobilization, clarity and strategy.
  2. We need serious organization to get things done – commitment, effectivity and inclusivity.
  3. Alternative to elected leadership is unelected leadership – leaders without titles.

Agonizing never got people anywhere, it only maintained the status quo. Our aspirations will be met depending on how well and fast we ORGANIZE!

 

CHANGE IS HERE

The ‘A’ team. There is a desire to belong, but few can. To a clique? Certainly not, but the struggle to be part of something greater than the persona of self, a movement, mission of purpose, to create, impact and continuously do so. Isn’t this what we strive for? Be part of? Yet choose not to! “How?” you ask. You first think of your-self before our-self, you think of your milestones rather than of our milestones. You dream of being part, however the validity of your dream is dependent on your actions. With such witty thoughts, how do you be part of a mission that requires selflessness, resilience, commitment and conviction?
The year 2018, the philosophy of team work has never sunk so deep. Joining Emerging Leaders foundation, that “ahh” feeling with an end to end smile of satisfaction crossing your face, knowing change is here with us, knowing the toil and effort required and saying yes to be part of the change and more encouraging, the fact that you are not one or two but that you are a community, a multitude of change agents. The ninth wonder that should be included is how the Elf staff synchronize their work, the synergistic transfer of energy to where needed most such as that employed by all-wheel drive (AWD) in Subaru vehicles (it’s okay to google). It’s seamless and delivers quality results. Keep up you are my inspiration.
I celebrate cohort 5 2018 at ELF. You are the life changing experience of my 2018. You are creative, intelligent, persistent, resilient, compassionate, concerned, dependable, reliable, committed persons determined to improve yourself so as to improve their space of influence and community. Driven by Ubuntu, service through leadership and excellence in what we do, you are an inspiration of a team. Whatever you do, wherever you will go and to whom you will interact with keep being the inspiration.

 

Written By;
Lore Kouko – ELF Alumni (Cohort 5)

Youth at the Center of Social Change in Kenya.

You can’t start a fire without a spark! Whenever society is faced with the greatest of threats, it has the tendency to constantly turn to the youth. The energy in pursuit, purity of purpose, clarity of vision and passion in articulation of issues is recipe for successful revolutions.

The last decade has arguably been the worst time for the youth of Kenya, we’ve been leathered from every side, our dreams shattered, the promise of education bleak, the availability of jobs almost nil, the factors of production held in the hands of a few greedy men.

But then I’m reminded that, “the best thing you can learn from the worst times of our life is that it always gets better. It may take a month, a year, a decade, but it will get better if you leave yourself open to it.”

In the last election something happened that went unnoticed or rather wasn’t properly celebrated. First, we got more youth into the different elective positions, but perhaps most interesting is the fact that we had more youth who ran as independent candidates and even a greater number who ran on alternative political parties apart from the two big coalitions at the time.

Sometimes we need reminding about who we are and what we can become, a little pride,a little determination and a true sense of commitment can spur us to demand better for ourselves and our communities. The youth who vied inspired the rest of us, the fact that they did campaigns focused on their manifestos speaks volumes. these young people knocked on doors, sat under trees, engaged youth and women groups, they challenged the common way of financing campaigns by asking the people to support their campaigns. They walked on foot and freely interacted with the electorate. There were no big rallies, with loud music and “chini kwa chini” dance, no big cars with tinted windows.

Perhaps if we do our politics differently by ensuring that we do not give handouts to voters and that every Kenyan is invested in the campaign process from start to end, then we could have a different story to tell successive generations, a story that is devoid of violence, theft and bribery, but one that is full of hope and progress.

I am glad that this change is being championed by my generation and I invite each of you to join the bandwagon, change inevitable.

 

Written by Jim India,

Communication Officer at Emerging Leaders Foundation.

 

 

 

Emerging Leaders

Here is a beautiful poem from one of the leaders we trained from Matungulu Girls, there is no better way to kick-off our weekend.

Emerging Leaders.

Amazing I would say,
What was done in a day,
Light was brought not just a ray,
Allow me to express if I may.

A group,
Not just any troop,
Impacting Change,
Going beyond the range.

Empowering leaders,
Making futures brighter,
Connecting not just inspiring,
Strong leaders emerging.

Training the best,
Who’ll stand out from the rest,
To cause that difference,
Taking advantage of every chance.

 

By Perpetual Wangari.