Susan Wavinya: Bringing Back Hope in her society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#Never give up.

 

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

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

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

“Challenges could sometimes be an opportunity to be great”

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Opportunities Galore: Conserving the Environment While Saving for the Future

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Dennis Leiyan: Leading Change in Kajiado County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Alumni of the Week: Cynthia Nyongesa

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

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

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

Kenya’s Cursed Generation – The 90s

The babies born in the nineties! This article is about young people between the ages of 20 and 29.

In March last year, I was part of the stop these thieves march. This was on the backdrop of millions of Kenya shillings stolen from public coffers, an unsustainable public debt and lethargic delivery of public services. Walking into freedom corner, I met a couple of people, most of them way over 35 years of age but there were probably just a handful of 20 – 29 year olds. You who are most affected by these ills, didn’t even care to show up to protest. Your very future is being auctioned in front of you, yet, you still expect your parents to take care of this one, just the same way they take care of every bottleneck you encounter.

You are the generation that has voted once, twice or never. And this is why your views on things that matter like governance and economics, among others, are, ‘‘I don’t care.’’  You were born at a time when the Moi government was implementing the Structural Adjustment Programs, a pathetic foreign program that crippled the economy and left many with economic wounds still being nursed to date. Then came the repeal of section 2A of the constitution, after years of struggle and an attempted coup, multipartism was reintroduced. For the next two elections, Kenya witnessed election-related violence like never before, some of your parents actively took part in the skirmishes. Between 1990 and 1999 your parents made poor choices, and going by recent trends it looks like they passed down their poor decision-making skills to you, because in the two elections you have taken part in, you have redefined the meaning of poor electoral choices.

You have voted for and supported incompetence, you have given mediocre politicians a god-like status, you have sat back unperturbed by reckless economic policies, you have cheered at nonsense and jeered at sense.

You have voted for and supported incompetence, you have given mediocre politicians a god-like status, you have sat back unperturbed by reckless economic policies, you have cheered at nonsense and jeered at sense. You have laughed when the police brutalized fellow Kenyans and tweeted in support of such immorality.

Truth is, your parents cannot save you from this one. You cannot call home and get an M-pesa message that solves your trouble. Here is the thing, you must grow up and part of this means taking up responsibility for your future. Knowing that it is important to work hard in school, but even more important is asking about the quality of that education and an assurance of a job upon completion or having an enabling environment for you to innovate and create jobs for other young people.

Growing up means less tweeting and more action. It calls upon you to organize yourselves and support those among you who can represent you at the table where decisions are made and where the national cake is being shared.

Growing up means stopping less complaining and more taking of responsibility. You must teach yourself to not only understand your rights but also embrace and take responsibility. Participate in shaping your future and in defining the destiny of your nation.

Like the hummingbird, what’s your little thing? Find it and pursue it relentlessly. Make your voice heard. Salvage your generation. Be the change.

The Author is the Communications Officer at ELF. 

International Youth Day Feature: Samuel Ndungú Wairimu (ELF Mentor)

As we count days to the International Youth day, whose focus is on  Transfroming Education, we would like to recognize one of our very own mentors who has recently received a full Masters Scholarship with the Chevening Scholarship Awards.

Samuel Ndung’u Wairimu is the founder of Maragwa Mentorship Program, a group of young professionals and university students who visit schools to motivate students to surpass their limit of excellence.

He is also a mentor with Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF), mentoring young leaders, especially those with interest in agribusiness. This stems from his experience as a student leader at the University of Nairobi and having worked with three different local banks in business development functions. Currently, he passionately mentors three fellows at ELF.

After unsuccessfully contesting for the Maragwa parliamentary seat on an independent ticket in 2017, he started an agribusiness enterprise and currently blogs on agriculture and food security. Most of his articles have successfully  been published by the Daily Nation, the Standard and the Star: local newspaper in Kenya.

Recently, he was among the 1800 selected globally to receive the Chevening Scholarship Awards to pursue MSc Agriculture and Development at the University of Reading. Chevening is the UK’s government scholarship that offers future influencers, decision makers to study a one-year master’s degree in any subject at any UK university.

He plans to return to Kenya and apply his knowledge and skills to influence the agriculture policy in Kenya, especially on rural small scale farming to meet SDG 2 on Zero Hunger. He also hopes that through this he will be able to alleviate poverty and bridge the inequality gap.

Keep rising Sam!

Have a conversation with  him on twitter 

 

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.

90% of Life is About Showing Up!

There is an old saying most often attributed to Woody Allen that “90% of life is showing up.” Actually, it turns out that the number is somewhere between 75 and 90, depending on the recollection of the person reciting the quote, but either way, the balance of life is about following up. Allen’s point is a good one. Just get involved, make the call, or introduce yourself. The results will astonish you.

My colleague always reminds us that we are the finest humans to ever walk the face of the earth; our great grandparents were not as smart and did not have as many opportunities as we do today. We have evolved into the ideal humans that our ancestors could not even dream about, in fact, should some of our ancestors rise from the dead today, they would go bonkers over what they would see. What sets us apart from other animals, is that we are story telling animals with the ability to organize ourselves.

In view of the foregoing, young people do not have the luxury of feeling hopeless or powerless today, across the country the chorus is the same “my governor hasn’t done …. Things cannot be done”. There is a feeling of indignation to a point where the youth even seem to think that voting will never change much.

But think about this; what hope or power did our fore fathers have when they were fighting the colonialist, the odds were against them, they did not have the numbers and neither did they have weaponry to face the oppressor. Yet against all odds a few men and women organised themselves and showed up for battle, thanks to them today we are a sovereign nation.

Better still let’s bring it closer and think about the second liberation; when young politicians and members of the civil society were demanding for political inclusion through the repeal of section 2A of the constitution, what power did they have? They were lone voices, strange voices demanding the unthinkable. But they dared to dream of a different society, the looked beyond themselves and reached out to a higher purpose, and look at us today? We have 63 political parties and across the country we can freely assemble to express our political beliefs.

Had these women and men given up or chose to dwell on what was not impossible, I doubt I would have even had the freedom to write this article, but because they dared to think and organise differently, we are where we are.

Fellow young people the onus is on us, things will only get better if we think and act differently, we must organise around issues and build teams in every county and sub-county to engage strategically with duty bearers, we must be willing to sustain the murmur long enough. Nobody understands youth issues like the youth themselves, hence we are best placed to do youth advocacy. Society always turns to young people in its hour of need, can we be counted on; because truth is, things are messed up all around us.

To the youth of Kilifi, who are the inspiration of this post; thank you for showing up for the Tunaweza training, we have built your capacity and we believe that you guys have assembled the best team to start meaningful engagement with your county officials. Don’t tire! And never loose sight of the antelope because of a dashing squirrel. 

 

 

Written by Jim India

Communication Officer

Emerging Leaders Foundation