MY SISTERS KEEPER PROGRAM; A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE

For the longest time, I thought that you must have a position for you to be considered a leader. I thought that leadership roles and responsibilities belonged only to the ‘leaders’. I used to try so hard to change my behavior so that I could fit in, never believing in myself while constantly letting other peoples’ opinions inform my decisions. All these beliefs and doubts prevented me from doing the things I loved. I was lucky enough to find light at the end of the tunnel.

In the past few weeks, I have been attending MY SISTERS KEEPER, a training program by Emerging Leaders Foundation. The goal of the overall project is to promote accountable leadership among young women in the health sector. Being chosen for the program was a complete honor.  I remember the mixed emotions I had at the time; excitement, hope, gratitude and even anxiety compounded by self-doubt on whether I was good enough for the program.

I especially enjoyed the first session on different human personalities. I realized that our personalities make us stand out. I finally understood that there was nothing wrong with me, I just had a different way of viewing life and it was okay, I never needed to fit in.

The second session on self-awareness made me realize that I did not know who I really was. I remember the speaker saying that we need to be our own cheerleaders. It was at this point that I remembered the many times that I had self-sabotaged by doubting my abilities. I learned that I should constantly live within my own parameters so that I would finally stop letting external factors define me.

As a health advocate, the program has also equipped me with knowledge on social accountability, public participation, advocacy and personal branding. Courtesy of the training, I have managed to change my views on leadership, and I am fully aware that a leader is anyone willing to take a stand. I am very grateful for the opportunity.

My Sisters’ Keeper was heaven-sent, a life changing opportunity.

 

 

By: Esther Aoko – #MySistersKeeper fellow, and  Sexual and Reproductive Health Youth Advocate.

 

 

 

 

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/ 

 

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/

“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. 

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

 

 

Rodgers Omollo: ELF gave me power

Growing up as an orphan is not only a challenge but an opportunity to understand and have a different view of life.  Life presented me with the opportunity to be stronger and a go-getter. My father died before I was born while my mother passed on when I was in class two. My grandmother took me in and instilled in me Christian values and how to be contented with the little.

ELF has given me the power to influence and serve my community

I always knew that in me there was passion for leadership and service, but I doubted myself based on the kind of work that life presented me including being a fishmonger and hawker. I latter landed on an NGO job which led to a poor state of mental health and depression. I wanted to quit but I was afraid of surviving without employment. ‘Dying in the line of duty is heroic but dying while unemployed is just stupid.’

Being a young person, I was always looking for networks and opportunities to grow and transform lives, to be a better version of myself.  I came to across ELF on Facebook through their call for mentees. I doubted it and thought it might be a scum having been a victim before. But then I thought, ‘Why not give it a shot, there is nothing to lose.’

Once I was done with my application, I completely forgot about it and continued with my job-search as I needed to work at a place where my mind could be at peace. Moreover, I just made the application with no expectation of feedback. Later in the month, I got a phone call for an interview in Nairobi which I could not manage to physically avail myself to. I requested for a job interview, which I got and went through it. A few days after the interview, I got an email for informing me of admission to cohort 7.

This is when my journey into being a better and a transformative leader begun. A dream fulfilled. That is how the realization to my dreams and unearthing my potentials began. That admission changed my life, entirely. I have learnt a lot; the power of networking, mentorship, and presenting myself. ELF gave me an opportunity to discover my passion and realize my path in life. ELF gave me power!

After the mentorship, I was bold enough to quit my job and start my own initiative.  I founded a youth-led organization in Homabay town by the name Activate Action (https://activateaction.org/), where am currently serving as the director and youth program officer.  The organization works with young people living with HIV, disability, and gender minority to overcome day to day challenges including g; unemployment, crime, HIV/AIDS, unhealthy relationships, mental health, and gambling. We seek to ensure that there is meaningful engagement of young people through life skills training and mentorship on Sexual reproductive health, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Currently, we are running the following programs and services:

  1. Mentorship on Sexual Reproductive Health, Mental Health, Relationships, Online Child Protection
  2. Feeding Program for Orphaned Children and Child-Headed Families
  3. Environmental conversations
  4. Online sessions on leadership, HIV management, and leadership
  5. Car wash
  6. Small scale agribusiness for the youth living with disabilities

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give, ELF has given me the power to influence and serve my community. Through ELF Staff members, trainers and fellow leaders, I learnt a lot on brotherhood and my network has really grown due to exposure and openings presented by ELF through events and forums.  One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone, that is what ELF taught me. I plan to plant the same seed that ELF planted in me to other young people in my community through activate action.

 

By Rodgers Omollo, LDP Cohort 7

NEVER DESPISE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

I left my previous job back in 2015 because I felt like I was struggling in it. Like any other young and ambitious person, I was pretty sure beyond a doubt that I would secure yet another opportunity of choice in the soonest time possible. Turns out I was wrong! Three years went by and nothing came forth, even after making numerous applications. Out of the hundreds of applications I made, only less than five invited me for an interview and the results, negative. The quest for a job drained me and I became so desperate that at that time, I was willing to do anything to survive. I regretted my decision to quit.

It is not wrong to be ambitious; but in your ambitions, be humble.

My world was falling apart; life was getting tough each and every day; the struggle was too much and almost crushing, that I lost my sense of self. I significantly lost confidence and self-esteem and this made me shy away from people close to me. I was not the same person. I couldn’t face anyone or anything anymore. I felt like my life was doomed. At this point I thought of going back to the village (home) than to stay and languish in the city. I was convinced beyond a doubt that the city life was not for me. I fixed dates to travel to the village but as the day drew closer, I kept on shifting it, over and over again. My heart couldn’t let me leave the city. Looking back, I realize that God was preparing me for a breakthrough.

One evening while pondering on my next move, it hit me that I needed to find a ‘small job’ that would help me fend for myself. Out of all the job hunts I did; I attached my certificates and put my best foot forward but that didn’t work. I re-thought my strategy. This time, I opted to try using my driver’s license as a brokering bridge for a job. I looked around and saw an opportunity in the taxi industry. After availing all the necessary documents at small fee, it did not take long before I secured a job as a driver. The job was not easy at the beginning though, but it being the only job available, I had to do it to my very best and passionately. I thought to myself, ‘Is God giving me a chance to reinvent myself?’ I gave the job my all and served all my clients in the most professional way. In my trips, I got to meet different kind of people and every time we interacted, a fresh energy rejuvenated my spirit bringing me confidence and hope yet again. At this juncture, more questions than answers filled me. I began having dissenting opinions on everything I believed was impossible. My eyes finally opened I started looking at things differently. A new ray of light started to shine my way.

Executing my taxi work, was the most fascinating thing for me, it gave me a chance to meet new friends to whom I learnt a lot from. It is during this period that I learnt about ELF and the good work they were doing to inspire and give hope to young people like me. Initially, I joined ELF as a service provider of the taxi service to the staff. In the course of the service and during our numerous conversations on the journey to various destinations, I got an opportunity to learn more about the mentorship program, this created an interest in me to be part of the program. Later, I joined The ABLI mentorship program offered by the Bible Society of Kenya in collaboration with ELF. The training was so amazing that it changed everything for me. It is through the program that I discovered who I really was, and what I could do. I discovered my strengths and weakness and learnt to align them for a successful living.

After graduating from the program in August 2018, I maintained contact with ELF and every time an opportunity arose, they could always call me for my services. Around February 2019, a senior ELF staff called me and asked whether I was willing to take up a job, as an assistant to one of her friends.I looked at the requirements for the job and saw that I was qualified. So I made the decision to take the offer. The job entailed driving kids to school and later the mzee to work. In addition, I acted as an office messenger and secretary at my boss’s office. To most graduates, this wouldn’t be a job they run to take. But my mentor encouraged me to take it and give it my all.

I gave it my best shot in every way – I kept time, I was disciplined, I was honest, I delivered within the required deadlines and learnt very fast in the job. One thing led to another, and within no time, on Dec 4th, 2019, I was introduced to British Engineering Services (BES) Group as a project support officer. Currently am a supervisor at the same company working in nine counties.

In a nutshell, my journey has been a good one. I am not yet done; I am just hitting the midway mark. On my way to this point, I have encountered challenges that have enabled me to learn lessons and be strong.

One key lesson I wish to give young people is this –  it is not wrong to be ambitious; but in your ambitions, be humble. Utilize small opportunities that come your way and ensure that you play a great role in preparing yourself for the future. When you keep the focus, you will get to your dream destination.

Never ever despise a humble beginnings.  Everything happens for a reason. When I left my job, it sounded crazy, but had I not taken that step of faith, maybe I wouldn’t be where I am now. I kick-started my journey as a driver and now I am a Supervisor at an international company. What if I had turned down the offer?

 

By Elijah Kipkurui- ABLI 2018

Mirror on the wall……..

How many times have you wronged yourself by lying to yourself? How many times have you robbed yourself of peace, just because you were not honest with yourself?

I would say that I have been guilty for a very long time. I had always disqualified myself even before anyone did. I would always shy away from taking responsibilities because I didn’t want to let anyone down. Little did I know that I was not doing anyone a favor but I was missing out on opportunities to learn and grow.

Life is about iterating. Executing all ideas you have and moving forward. Playing small does no one a favor.

I wanted to impact lives but I was afraid of the actual reality which didn’t look rosy. As we all know, reading books to learn how to ride a bicycle is impossible. You have to fall a few times as you ride it. I am a first born in a family of four children. One would think that since I am a firstborn I would naturally want to be a leader everywhere. Well that was not my case. Nothing pained me more than knowing at a certain instance I might have failed as a big sister.

I wish I would have refocused my attitude and learnt from those situations to inspire myself and my brothers. I missed out on so much that I would tell my younger 10 year old self to take the risk and explore leadership opportunities. I wish I was not ashamed of my situation and was bold enough to ask questions of where I felt inadequate. Wishes are not horses so I can’t ride them.

Thank God for chances. Now I know better and that is why I won’t waste any more chances. That is how I decided to vie for Vice President ABLI 2020 Class, evening Cohort. In my case, whether I won or lost the election, it would still be a win for me. This candidacy for me is a sign of taking risk by putting myself out there to serve and be held accountable.

Life is about iterating. Executing all ideas you have and moving forward. Playing small does no one a favor. Go big or go home. It is time we start living our best lives as we make other people’s lives better and worth living just like ELF and BSK are doing.

In the poem Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson, there is a line that states, “As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

We can lie to everyone. We even might think that we can lie to God. But one person you can never lie to is yourself no matter how much you try. So fellow leaders look at the mirror and tell yourself sorry for not being honest with yourself. Look at the mirror and see the greatness in you. Look at the mirror and say, “Mirror mirror on the wall I see a bold, beautiful/handsome and legendary lady/Gentleman.”

Step up and Stand Out. Just Do it!

 

Written by; Mutethya Mutweko, ABLI 2020

Looking Back, I have no Regrets

God indeed is at work in our lives, it’s just that it doesn’t always look or feel like it. Or even worse, he is not physical enough for us to directly interact with him.  I have always been seeking clarity and direction from God as I felt my life was a little bit off and I want pursuing my passion enough. I needed a change on my career path, it was one of those roller-coaster seasons that we are all encounter at some point of our lives.,

It was one those casual moments when you lazily spend time scrolling your phone and switching from one social media site to the other -just to pass time- when I bumped into a poster on the African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI). After a close look at it, I thought “Why not give it a shot, who knows.” I had previously made so many applications without response, in my hazy thoughts, I expected the same with this one. I did fill the application form, I do not remember the exact details, but the form required a bunch of details.

Once done, my life continued normally (nomaree 😉) I forgot the application and moved on with my daily activities. Furthermore, I just made the application with no expectation of feedback.

Alas! The unexpected happened. I got a call from one of the ELF staff members informing me that he had called in regards to my ABLI application that they had received. He took me through a brief interviewing process over the call. At this point, everything else picked up fast, I got an email informing me that I was one of the successful applicants. I cannot explain the emotions that I went through in that moment, but I can tell one thing, I was excited and expectant of the unknown that awaited.

This is when my journey into being a better and transformative leader begun. Dreams fulfilled. My dreams for becoming a better and transformative leader begun. That phone call and the email changed my life. In that moment, I knew God had answered my prayer. Thank God for people amazing  people like ELF staff members who were always calling to encourage and push me into not letting this opportunity go at the beginning of the program when I was facing challenges with the whole idea of online sessions. Well, they were right on this as it is by far one of the best decisions of my life. I was also so surprised that my one of my close friends and church mate Florence, was also enrolled in the program. This made me feel much at home.

ABLI has taught me a lot, it has been a mind-changer.  The first module, self-awareness has helped me become more aware of who I am as a person. It has also helped me understand my emotions better, be more in tune with my emotions and know how to relate with different people. To seek to understand rather than being understood.

This training has helped me deal with my own fears and allow myself to be vulnerable to growth. I have also learnt to tell my story without guilt and shame and be proud of the baby steps I am making in pursuit of my dreams.

That you to Emerging Leaders Foundation and the Bible Society of Kenya for giving us an opportunity learn, unlearn, grow and sharpen our skills in order to be effective, relevant and enlightened even as we fulfill our God given mandates in life.

 

Written by; Jess Kaurie, ABLI 2020

“We all have to strive for the Best and Be Positive,” Tamara

As we have all witnessed, these turbulent times brought forth by the onset of the novel coronavirus have led to significant changes in our lives. We went from enjoying social interactions, freely attending social events over the weekends, and generally having great times with our friends, to barely being able to step outside our own homes out of fear that we might become part of the daily stats that are given by the Ministry of Health.

These changes have been so consequential, they have also affected the school lives of not only me but millions of students around the world. Some haven’t, and perhaps will never get to truly experience the culmination of education for a high school student. Some will never get to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments along with their parents, teachers, and fellow students. Although most, I included, were fortunate enough to participate in some sort of makeup online graduation ceremony, majority will agree that it was a subpar substitute for the real deal. As though being denied graduation by the pandemic wasn’t cruel enough, some of us might not be attending university in-person this year. Currently, it seems like we might never free ourselves from the thralls of the coronavirus.

In these unprecedented times, feeling bad about the past doesn’t help to solve anything.

Okay, let’s pause from Corona for a minute, I can say I was one of probably thousands or millions of first-year university students who were looking forward to orientation week and making new friends. The adrenaline rush and anxiety of saying the right thing to create the perfect impression, the fear of rejection, not fitting in, or maybe even fitting into the wrong groups. It could have been quite the experience, one that I had been anticipating for approximately 547 days (yes, there had been a countdown).  I can only imagine what it would have been like.

One of my personal habits that more than often works to my detriment is that I like to please people and while that’s fitting in a new environment, it sometimes means I create this impressionable persona that’s not a true reflection of who I am. I suppose we’ve all been in such situations, many times in an elevator pitch where you can only hope that the right side of the coin lands facing upwards by the end of the coin toss.

Now back to the elephant in the room, the pandemic. It has been a time of self-reflection and many, including myself, are now focusing on what character we would like to present after this and which is our best foot to put forward. It’s quite a challenge when we don’t really know what ‘new normal’ really means. Will we have to embody strength, courage, adaptability, unfamiliar compassion for some of us? So, what does this mean for me in my next steps?

Despite all that has happened during these past months, I can’t continue to allow it to harm my life and my mindset. The pandemic has left the world reeling and desperately searching for any sense of normalcy and with this comes new opportunities to thrive. I may not start university on campus but, this comes with the new experience of being part of the first cohort to start university online. Admittedly, while this may not be the most appealing introduction to such a vital chapter in my life, it’s quite extraordinary to begin this journey in a way nobody has ever done.

To conclude, I know I can’t reverse the flow of time. I can’t miraculously prevent the disease from infecting so many people worldwide and I definitely can’t forbid the virus from existing in the first place. What I can do is accept all that has happened, pray for the best, and move forward. In these unprecedented times, feeling bad about the past doesn’t help to solve anything. Instead, I chose to take this opportunity to find some good and look forward to what the future may hold. We all have to continue to strive for the best, despite the situations we might find ourselves in. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

Submitted by:
Tamara Lugonzo- Communications Volunteer, ELF