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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sisterhood in Mathare.

Saturday 23rd November 2013 was a bright warm morning in Nairobi. Akili Dada, a local NGO in Kenya that aims to address the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in Africa had organized through one of their fellows a career day at Mathare’s informal settlement in Nairobi. As part of Sisterhood, I was humbled to be part of this great initiative and to learn from not only the members of Akili dada but also from the community who we were visiting early that morning.

Career Day Sessions
As with most informal settlements, the area is densely populated and amenities are scarce. Life can be very brutal and each day bears its own challenges and battles that must be fought. For young people growing up there, especially for young girls, wrong choices and the wrong crowd can have far outreaching consequences. An Akili dada fellow-Ann Nyambura http://www.akilidada.org/what-we-do/innovation-in-leadership-program/akili-dada-fellows/ is the brain behind the career day. This vibrant young lass who grew up in the area is living testimony that where we are born, live or even where we grow up need not define us, our ambitions, hopes and dreams. Speaking on the opening of the career day, she recalls growing up in Mathare and being force to seek mentors from far and wide who mostly resided outside of Mathare’s slum. She knew that life had more to it than dropping out of school or been forced out due to teenage pregnancies and other wrong choices and even harsher realities. She acknowledges that having exposure to other people’s world views makes her a better person and hence her solid commitment to taking the same knowledge back to her own home through mentorship and economic initiatives.

The career day was for teenagers of both genders aged between 13-19 who reside within Mathare. The aim of the career day was to firstly, encourage the young impressionable teens that they can be anything they set their minds up to be and that secondly that each student is aware of what subjects to select especially for the high school students for a given profession and that thirdly and finally a firsthand experience and Q & A session with various career women from diverse professions including medics, lawyers, teachers, IT consultants, media personalities and renowned bankers.

Some of Akili dada beneficiaries
Despite the circumstances most of these young teens live in, I honestly felt as though they laugh harder, louder and longer than most other people. Is it because they know there is more to life that material things? It doesn’t cost much to sacrifice a few hours and to make an impact however small in others lives. There is nothing more heartwarming that making a small child smile and it is even more amazing that a young lady like Ann is demonstrating to her community and herself what real leadership really is!!! Ann was recently awarded with a grant from the Pollination Project to enable her to conduct essential training and to purchase materials and an electrical briquette to begin her economic empowerment project in Mathare. http://thepollinationproject.org/2013/11/29/ann-nyambura-women-empowerment-through-briquette-making/?utm_content=buffer70417&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

Miss Nyambura




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