NAVIGATING THE “GLASS CLIFF”

What do YOU stand for? There has to be something that you stand for in life. That’s exactly where leadership begins. Mhh…quite evidently, my leadership journey began way long before I ever thought of it as such.

Although I did not hold a leadership position for a long time in life, the qualities of leadership have been at work in my life since childhood. Now that I know so much more about leadership, my definition of it is more sophisticated and detailed and I no-longer see it as something on the other side of the barrier of natural talents. I strongly believe that ‘You do not have to hold a title to be a leader.’

My Sisters’ Keeper has taught me that leadership is not just about title but service.

The main reason I enrolled for the MSK 2020 training was because I had always wanted to learn how to be a leader for years. However this is just not any leader, but a leader with a difference, who stands for principles, purpose, people, and performance and speaks for the voiceless. I wanted change but I didn’t know how to go about it. I kept going round and round in circles not knowing how, what and when to do it. All this was in a bid to improve my ability as a young woman to analyze policies that inform the relationship between communities and workers in order to improve services rendered to the citizens of my country. Thanks for the admission to the program because it has enabled me to unravel the complexity of my myths’ and subsequently been able to get more than what I expected. Emerging Leaders Foundation, the blessing, gave me what I was looking for in the midst of a global pandemic.

But how?

I have learnt a lot of things in the program .The three major segments were on self-discovery, how to connect and eventually create impact which were facilitated by various speakers. After taking the classes on Ethics, Integrity and Values according to the Bill Of rights, Article 10 and Article 232 of the constitution I am now able to give leadership in my field of service with dignity, ensuring that there is justice for all and excellence in service without discrimination of anybody whatsoever. In addition to that, I have been equipped with the skills and knowledge on the face of challenges that young women face as they try to rise in leadership and know how to tackle issues that I face along the way.

The lessons on personal branding changed my general outlook of how I get to present myself to the society. This is because I got to learn that making a name for myself can be tough and sometimes frustrating .It requires a lot of patience and effort in some cases. Image may just prove to be everything. Lisa Gansky once said that ‘Your brand is your public identity, what you are trusted for and for your brand to endure it has to be tested, redefined, managed and expanded as markets evolve. Brands either learn or disappear.’

The training has been so important to me since it has taught me how to be my own brand  as I embrace leadership because if I don’t actively build my brand, other people will build on it by forming their own beliefs on what I stand for.

My Sisters’ Keeper has taught me that leadership is not just about title but service. By getting involved in the community service, I was able to get in touch with the community, understand their needs and able to look at life from their point of view.

This is what I want to propagate and demonstrate in the future ‘Servant leadership’

 

Written By: Martha Murunga- #MySistersKeeper Fellow, 2020

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.

 

 

 

 

MY SISTERS’ KEEPER: THE NUGGETS, MENTORSHIP AND IMPACT.

I AM POWERFUL BEYOND MY IMAGINATION!!! This is the most important thing I have learnt through my time in this program.

When I joined My Sisters Keeper, it was at a time when I was not sure about myself and what I wanted out of life. I felt that I wanted to make a change in this world and leave my mark in this life because I did not like how some things happened around me. I felt oppressed and stepped on. I just did not know how I was going to make my mark. Then this opportunity showed up and I joined the program not knowing what awaited me as I embarked on this journey.

ELF has opened me up and given me nuggets to make my brand and making my impact and mark in this society. I have learnt to do life-mapping and known my personality and this, has changed how I view life and the people around me.

Through the speakers that ELF brought in, I have learnt to speak power truthfully as well as advocate for social accountability and leant the power that my voice has. Should I choose to start my own organization I know how to make budgets and what the national budget cycles include.

What I say after the words ‘I am…’ really matters. How I ask my questions matters and determines what answers I get.

This has been an eye opener program, I am ready to conquer and be an advocate of social accountability in my sector.

 

By: Ms Musiega Osundwa, MSK 2020 FELLOW

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/ 

 

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

“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. 

“The most fulfilling thing to do as a human is being kind and giving back”

Linda Salbei is the founder of Linda Msichana Organization a Community Based Organization in Kericho County centered in benefitting girls and women towards attaining quality basic education. She is passionate about empowering girls and women in business. A young upcoming entrepreneur, Linda has been in the field of charity for close to five years now where she has reached out to the youth, women, and community at large.

Her first time engaging with Emerging Leaders Foundation was in 2017 when the organization had a countywide training and mentorship program for community leaders. She was lucky to be among the first people to be trained in Kericho county amongst other young leaders. After the training, she got an opportunity to be part of the 1st Youth Devolution Conference held in Nairobi where she meet and interacted  with other young leaders who were part of the ELF county networks and were doing amazing things in their communities.

Because of these intense trainings from ELF her way of operation at Linda Msichana have changed drastically in that as an organization they are more aware of the roles of community leaders especially those in elected positions therefore making it easier and more efficient to hold them accountable for their actions. “This has greatly influenced me as a leader in that I am now bold enough to engage them in our activities and approach them when we need assistance from their offices a good example is during allocation of bursaries for needy students we are able to get slots for the young mothers and school going girls who are very needy.”

 

“My greatest takeaway from ELF is that our leaders are approachable people and it is our duty as change makers to reach out to them if we want to make our community a better place.”

Her biggest interest in life is reaching out to the younger generation and seeing them pursue their dreams especially when it comes to talent and skills. “I am a believer that talent and skills can open doors and change lives. I enjoy making crafts as a way of practicing my talent. ELF has played a major role in mentoring and empowering me to not only be a great leader but also a role model and a voice to many young women girls in my community and therefore I would want to pass down the knowledge I have to those around me,” she adds.

The most difficult part about her journey and work is on resources as they can be scarce making it challenging for programs to run. Owing to this, Linda Msichana has programs that promote and enhance talent and skills that the girls have.

“We have been teaching them how to make Ankara bangles from recycled material that we collect from local tailors. From this we are able to sell the products locally and this small income sustains the day to day operation of the organization. We sometimes face difficulties from community members who do not understand our work in the community and this is where we bring in chiefs and local leaders during our community outreaches to further explain to them what we do.”

Linda has picked many lessons along the way but she has three lessons that she key lessons learnt that she can share with other leaders.

  1. It is important to be passionate about the causes we believe in because in this way passion fuels purpose.
  2. Being persistent and consistent are essential in achieving results.
  3. Leaders should also be resilient no matter the circumstance!

“Our short-term goal as an organization is to have programs for girls running throughout the entire Kericho County as for now we are in three Sub Counties. For our long-term goal, we want to set up a community resource center that will cater for not only school going girls and young mothers but also the whole community.”

“I believe the most fulfilling thing to do as a human is being kind and giving back!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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