2017 Kenyan Elections

August 24th UPDATE:

 

We are happy to announce that all SHOFCO facilities and programs have resumed.  While the Kenyan general elections remain contested, we are proud of our community members for not only actively exercising their right to vote, but doing so peacefully. We recognize that our work to build urban promise from urban poverty is more important now than ever. Join us: donate link

 

 

 

Staff Highlight: Mesh Mogana

Mesh Mogana, Partnerships Coordinator at SHOFCO

Mesh Mogana, Partnerships Coordinator at SHOFCO

1. Tell Me About Yourself

My official name is Mary Mogana, but I prefer to be called Mesh because it is an artistic name. I was born, raised, and schooled in Kibera until I reached college level. I come from a family of four and we live Soweto Village. I am a role model for girls in my community, passionate about women’s empowerment, and an artist who believes in tapping into the positive energy in young people both within and outside Kibera. 

2. What did you do before joining SHOFCO?

I used to work in a beauty spa as a hairdresser and a beautician. I also modeled, worked with marketing companies on promotions, created art in the mediums of dance, playwriting and directing, and singing, and participated in forums related to girls’ and women’s empowerment.

3. When and why did you join SHOFCO?

I joined SHOFCO in 2014 after being crowned the first Miss SHOFCO in 2013. I quit my hairdressing job and joined SHOFCO because it gave me a direct platform to make a positive impact in my community by serving, inspiring, and being a role model through my success story. 

4. What do you find most challenging about your job?

Part of my job is to give tours to visitors, and I find it challenging when visitors are late or when we have a language barrier and have difficulty communicating. 

5. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Waking up every day knowing that I contribute positively towards the lives of the young people I meet daily is the most rewarding part of my job. It is amazing to see some of them go back to school after I mentor them, as well as seeing youth in the community embrace contraceptives and know that they have a future which is more than just Kibera.

6. Where do you see SHOFCO in 5 years?

I see SHOFCO impacting even more lives. As for Youth Peer Providers, I would love to see us having another center in another village. I also see youth having more community centers that have libraries and computer labs, the expansion of our adult literacy programs, additional satellite clinics, as well as an 

expanded gender department. I would also like to see our economic empowerment programs expand and reach more groups, empowering more people to start income generating activities in order to 

improve their standards of living. Finally, I would like to see our KSG graduates in good high schools and giving back to their community by mentoring other girls in Kibera. 

7. What do you like to do in your time outside of work?

In my time outside of work, I like to mentor young girls, write plays and poems, and direct theater groups both within SHOFCO and outside groups. I read a lot of inspirational books that motivate and inspire me. I also like to play hockey and volleyball. 

8. If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

If I could meet anyone in the world, it would be Nelson Mandela. He inspires me to bring change from all directions and make change work with love, care, and concern for each other. I am inspired by his leading from behind to give others opportunities to grow, being compassionate, understanding, empathetic ,and leading from the heart. 

9. Why did you want to become a member of SHOFCO’s community program staff?

I wanted to become a member of SHOFCO’s community program staff to be part of the foot soldiers who do good deeds that were making a great impact and change in my community. I am grateful for this opportunity to give back my knowledge and help my community so that we can leave a great legacy behind.       

10. In regards to your job and program, how do you see it growing in the next few years?

I would like to see the Mentorship program expand, as our mentors function like our girls’ second parents. They expose our girls to different areas of Nairobi outside of Kibera, and follow up on the happenings in their academic and social lives. I would also like to improve our site visit program in order to bring more potential funders to SHOFCO so that they can get a feel for our work and see our impact firsthand. 

 

 

 

Student Spotlight: Ashley, 6th grader

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself.

My name is Ashley; I am a beautiful, loving and caring girl. I love my teachers, parents and siblings.

Q: What do you love about your teachers?

I have so many teachers! My favourite one is Teacher Obunga – my Swahili teacher. He teaches us Swahili with so much passion and happiness, I get to understand what he says. In Kibera, a lot of Swahili is now mixed with many languages and it becomes Sheng, he teaches us pure Swahili that makes me want to speak to everyone I love in Swahili.

Q: Why do you think that love and care is so important?

...We need love because with love we can get to know each other well and share each other’s secrets. I would advise people to give love because love changes the world and brings out the best in the world. I pratise love everyday by loving my friends and my siblings.

Q: How many siblings do you have?

I have seven siblings.

Q: Seven? That is a lot of love – how do you show them love everyday?

When they are hurt, when someone hurts their feelings, or when they feel sad – I motivate them. I advise them and I show them the way to go. I also help them; I tell them that I love them, that they are beautiful.  I also teach them about loving the environment.

Q: Tell me more about loving the environment

I don’t like what our industries are doing to our environment! That is not love. You cannot love the environment when the factory smoke chokes the birds and they don’t get to chirp any more. The garbage is a problem too – the paper bags that need to get recycled, we need to recycle more!

Summer Institute Recap

Marty Caplan, SHOFCO Education Consultant, wrote a recap of how Summer Institute not only teaches students to expand their thinking, but prompts teachers to think outside of the box, too. 

 

 

 

 

SHOFCO Schools for Girls Summer Institute for the Teachers and Administrators

The mission of the SHOFCO Schools for Girls calls for a program strong in academics, rich in arts, and focused on social and emotional development.  Our goal is for our girls to apply what they learn in a way that demonstrates:

·      A sense of civic responsibility

·      Innovative and creative real world thinking

·      Entrepreneurial and ethics-based leadership

 

How can we teach the girls all the skills that they need to learn, but never lose focus of the major goals of our mission?  That is what over 40 teachers and administrators from The Kibera School and The Mathare School grappled with during the Summer Institute of 2016 facilitated by four educators from Denver, Colorado.

 

I am Marty Caplan (retired Head of Logan School).  My wife, Arna Caplan (retired teacher and curriculum writer at Jefferson County Public Schools), and I have just returned from our fourth visit of teacher training at Kibera.  This time we were joined by Liza Eaton (Instructional Trainer at Odyssey Expeditionary School) and Kathi Mclaughlin (retired teacher from Odyssey School).

 

Using inquiry, allowing time for the girls to explore and discover, and developing units around big ideas that support the mission of the SHOFCO Schools for Girls- that is what we focused on in Summer Institute.  These are difficult things to grasp for teachers who have been trained in a very traditional approach to education.  Mastering them requires a lot of hard work.  And hard work is what we saw.  We have never seen a group of teachers more willing to learn, more committed to the girls, and more open to try new things. 

 

As the girls of SHOFCO grow into becoming future leaders who will make a difference in the world, they will never forget the wonderful teachers they had as role models!

Six SHOFCO Students Conquer Summer Sixteen!

This summer, six of our brightest students at the Kibera School for Girls spent their summer in the U.S. for leadership programs! Eunice, Hereniah, Ida, Martha, Joice and Beldin honed their skills, dove into their interests and had so much fun along the way. (They went sailing, swimming, visited Times Square and had more ice cream than you could imagine.)

 

 

 

 

Student Spotlight: Prudence Achieng

Our Programs Liaison Fellow, Shilpa Guha, sat down with one of our Kibera School for Girls (KSG) students, Prudence Achieng, to hear about her aspirations and experiences at KSG.

PrudenceSHOFCO

Q: Describe yourself in 3 nouns and 3 adjectives:

A: I am a musician, I am an actor, and I am an author.

I am courageous, I am strong, and I am beautiful.

 

Q: Tell me about being a musician.

A: I feel I am a musician because I listen to music in my free time and I try to compose my own songs. I also try to sing the songs that I listen to. I’ve taught myself how to sing, following the steps of my aunt, who also taught herself how to sing at the age of five. She has been a role model to everyone and she is also my role model. I’m trying to be like her.

 

Q: So how do you teach yourself music?

A: I put on my music then after a line that the musician sings, I repeat it many times. I sometimes repeat lines or whole songs ten times before I feel I learn them well. The hardest song I ever learned, I tried to repeat a line fifteen or more times to get the rhythm.

 

Q: And what larger lessons do you learn from being a self-taught musician?

A: Some music inspires me and some music teaches me important values. And music even teaches me good behavior becauseI have to be patient with myself and I learn how one can be patient with others. I have also learned it is important to practice so that you can gain confidence. When I am confident, I sing better.

 

Q: Do you perform your music?

A: I always perform in after-school when the teachers ask us who can sing for the group. My dream is to perform to a large crowd of people so many people can love my songs. I also want to write my own songs. I would write songs about my school, my parents, my teachers, and SHOFCO at large. I would talk about how SHOFCO has helped me in my education and how it has taught me moral values.

 

Q: Earlier, you described yourself as strong. What does strength mean to you and how do you exhibit it?

A: I am strong because when a challenge comes before me, I can work hard so that I can get a solution to the problem and that makes me fearless. Being strong means defending yourself and having the courage to say yes or no to something.

 

Q: Let’s talk about school. What is your favorite subject, Prudence?

A: I have three favorite subjects: English, math, and science.

I love English because it helps me learn how to write well and how to speak well. I love learning tough vocabulary words. My favorite word is special because in everything you do, you must have something unique, something special.

I love mathematics because it’s all about playing with numbers and learning other formulas that you never knew. Also you cannot go anywhere without learning math. Maths is your key to success for many different jobs. For example, when you want to be a banker, you must learn how to count money.

I love science because I enjoy doing experiments and exploring the world: plants, animals. Science helps me learn how to eat a balanced and that helps me stay healthy.

 

Q: You recently ranked at the top of your class in exams. How do you feel about being number one?

A: It made me proud because it shows the hard work that I have put in my revision. I hoped it would happen and I expected it because I did a lot of revision. I was asking questions to understand more about the subjects I was revising. I showed myself that I can work extra hard and keep getting higher marks on my exams.

 

Q: Apart from your hard work, what else motivated you?

A: I always believe in myself that I can do anything and I am also courageous so that nothing can stop me from reading and going to school. The most important thing for me is going to school. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I think about is my teachers and my mother. They inspire me the most to work hard each day.

 

Q: Tell me about your mother.

A: My mother is a strong woman and she is also courageous because she can teach you how to behave when you go places. She teaches you good behaviors and moral values that you can show in society. She inspires me by telling me that you should never give up because there is a time for everything. My mom works at SHOFCO and it has helped our family in terms of providing free education for me and a job for my mother. We are close to each other every day and it make me happy because close because when I know she is nearby, I don’t want to make any mistakes. I want to be a good student and a good girl. My mother wants me to be a better person in the future and so she encourages me now to read a lot and work hard.

 

Q: So what are your dreams for the future?

A: My dream is to finish primary school, go to a nice high school, and go to a great college. I want to help my mother to live in a good house. I also want to give back to the community by helping SHOFCO to grow bigger.

 

Q: What is your dream job and why?

A: I want to be a teacher so that I can pass knowledge through students and I can learn more from students. Teachers give students knowledge and they also give students advice in what you should and should not do. We need good teachers so that we can help other students to be better people in the future.

 

 

 

TSF in Nairobi - A Visit to Kibera

Our partners at the School Fund are spending time at our site in Kibera. The School Fund's Executive Director Elizabeth Texeira and Director of Programs Michael Childress, are on a three week trip to East Africa to meet seven of our field partners in the region. They will be writing short posts about their experience, so check back for an update soon!

 

The School Fund staff has hit the ground running! And at altitude! We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday morning after about 27 hours of travel from SFO and were VERY excited to see 1) that the intense rains of the past few weeks were no longer falling, and 2) the sights of Nairobi—Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Nairobi National Park—as we valiantly fought jetlag in anticipation of starting work today. 

We were up bright and early to prepare our materials for our first (and newest) partner of the trip, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). SHOFCO operates a program in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, with over 1 million people living in an area consisting of 1.3 square miles. As SHOFCO says,

“Kenya’s government, which owns the land upon which Kibera stands, does not formally recognize the settlement, regarding its residents as squatters. Thus, the people of Kibera’s 13 villages are denied basic social services—education, healthcare and sanitation, clean water, electricity, roads—and the basic human dignity that accompanies them.” Learn more on their site here

SHOFCO, developed with a mission to turn urban poverty into urban promise has four main pillars: education, with their wildly covered Kibera School for Girls (check out this video for a day in the life and some serious inspiration); health, they run a community clinic that serves all of Kibera; community empowerment, with savings and micro- loan clubs and vocational training; and water and sanitation/hygiene programs, providing low cost, clean water and eco-friendly latrines to a community that does not have any other access to these services. 

Today was spent buzzing around the community meeting program staff, volunteers, members of the student selection committee, a group of proud parents, and even a Mr. and Mrs. SHOFCO—young people selected by the community to be role models who receive an internship working with the organization for the year. 

Over the din of construction, the singing of an elementary school classroom, and the sounds and smells of the communal kitchen, the parents described the situation in Kenya, how the school fee structure changes every year, and they never know if they will be able to find the money to keep their sons and daughters in school. In a place like Kibera, sending their children away to boarding school is often the best option. Roger, one of the parents in our group whose daughter is now at the top-ranked national high school in Kenya said, “I can see the sun through my window. Without this scholarship I could never have managed her school. For the first time there will be a graduate in my house.”  

And that folks, is what it’s all about.

The School Fund is proud to partner with SHOFCO to send 50 of their students to secondary school this year. We are honored to be a part of this amazing organization changing lives every day. YOU can be a part of this magic too—meet some of our amazing SHOFCO students here.

 

See the original blog post here. 

Student Spotlight: Mollet Akinyi, a Courageous Leader

Our Programs Liaison Fellow, Shilpa Guha, sat down with one of our Kibera School for Girls (KSG) students, Mollet Akinyi, to hear about her aspirations and experiences at KSG.

 

Mollet.jpg

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself. Define yourself in three nouns and describe yourself in three adjectives.

A: My name is Mollet. I am in grade 6. I am a girl, a leader, and an advisor. I am beautiful, confident, and courageous.

 

Q: An advisor– that’s interesting. Could you explain?

A: I’m good at explaining information, giving people good advice, and telling them how to be successful in life.

 

Q: When is a recent example of when you gave good advice?

A: Yesterday, our teachers were in a meeting and I was with my classmate, Selma. We were giving advice to three other classmates about how to be good people, and how to be better students to do well in academics. I told them to be like a horse: look forward, not from side to side, and stay focused on what is ahead. When a horse is moving, it looks straight ahead and focuses to reach its destination. It doesn’t look this way or that. It moves straight. That’s why I chose that example of a horse.

 

Q: You like to give advice, but who do you go to when you need to receive advice?

A: I go to my eldest brother because he is my role model. I have another older brother and one younger sister, and he tells us when we have done wrong and when we have done right. Sometimes we have meetings in our family to discuss our problems and he leads these meetings. One thing he always tells us that I keep close to my heart is, “It doesn’t matter whether you come from a rich or poor family; what matters is you go to school and get an education.”

 

Q: Is he supportive of your education and your sisters’ education?

A: Yes, he always supports girls’ education. He evens tutors us, and other girls in our neighborhood, when we need help with certain subjects. He tells me to set high goals, especially for my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, and to focus on my studies at KSG.

 

Q: What is your favorite part about studying at KSG?

A: The teachers. Our teachers explain concepts until students understand – they make sure we all understand everything. They care and are concerned about their students. When a student has a problem, they will find a solution to help the student. A few months ago, when I was really sick, my teachers were concerned about my health. They told me to keep fighting and encouraged me that I would get well soon. It helped me because I knew that my teachers were there for me and they wouldn’t stop being concerned until I recovered.

 

Q: KSG just introduced a prefect system. Could you explain how that works?

A: Prefects maintain order in the school, and make sure that everything in the school is running well and is in the right place. We have a head girl and deputy girl, who are the leaders of all the prefects. We have prefects for each class, and we also have prefects for special activities. We have one for the dining hall, one for after school activities, one for sports and one for time keeping.

 

Q: You ran during this election, and you won. What is your title?

A: I am the Deputy Head Girl of KSG.

 

Q: Why did you run for Deputy Head Girl?

A: I knew that if I got the post I would be good to the girls. I would help them with struggles and I would make sure everything in the school runs well. I am confident; I am a good listener and I’m a girl who can understand people. Two weeks before elections took place, our teachers chose one student in each class to be a temporary class prefect. I was the one chosen for grade 6, and it was great. I maintained that our class was good for those two weeks and that nothing went wrong. Then I said to myself, “After two weeks of being a really good class prefect, I need to go to a higher level,” so I decided to aim for Deputy Head Girl.

 

Q: Can you explain the election process?

A: I had to give a speech in front of all the students and talk about what I would do for the school and how I would bring change. I told them that every Friday would be a Fun Friday, when we could maybe have a party and share and talk in a more casual way. I also told them that instead of only doing Sports Day at our school, I wanted KSG to compete with other schools. I also went to specific classes too, like grade 4 because I love that class, and I told them I would make sure that their class would be very successful this year.

 

Q: And on Election Day?

A: I was so tense and I really didn’t know if I would win because it’s a hard job – campaigning and making people vote for you. Finally, when I heard the results, I couldn’t believe it. I was really happy! I was thinking that I want to do my best, and if the girls have given me this post, I will make sure I do good things for them.

 

Q: You’ve now had this position for the past two weeks. How has it been?

A: It has been good! The students are cooperating with me, and listening to what I tell them. I feel good because they are obedient. I feel that even if I’m in a high level, I should be kind to them, correct them in a good way, and listen to them. I shouldn’t be bad to them.

 

Q: What is difficult and what is easy about being a prefect?

A: It’s hard because you have to make sure that everything is the right condition, the students are in the right place, and they are disciplined. Sometimes you’re upstairs and you hear girls making noise downstairs, so you have to run around a lot.

It’s easy when students listen to you and your work is smooth. Also for me, the students follow my lead and what I tell them to do. I feel lucky that the students really love me.

 

Q: What do you hope to improve about your leadership skills? How do you want to grow as a leader?

A: I want to get better at counseling girls and giving them good solutions when they have problems. I want to grow as a leader by learning more and starting my own projects as Deputy Head Girl. I want to start a girls’ support group. We could meet, talk about ourselves, they could share their problems and I would give them good advice. They could also help each other and even help me. We would all learn from each other by being together. I got this idea because I was watching this movie about a girls’ school where girls came together, shared their problems, and helped each other. I thought it would be good if we started doing the same at KSG.

 

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be a teacher to pass knowledge to young kids and help them be better people in life. I got inspiration by seeing our teachers and how they help us. It made me want to do the same thing.

 

Q: Would you want to teach at a girls’ school?

A: Yes and I would even want to start my own school for girls. We need more schools like KSG, we need more girls to get an education, especially those who are denied an education because they are mistreated or there is not enough money to educate them. It’s important to educate girls because when you educate a girl, you educate the whole nation and you empower the whole nation.

 

 

 

International Women's Day: Alice Atieno

For International Women's Day, we're highlighting a few members of the SHOFCO Women's Empowerment Project (SWEP), which provides business training and support groups for women in the slums of Kibera and Mathare who are HIV-positive. We hire our SWEP members to create beautiful handmade goods - from beaded bracelets to yoga bags - providing a means for them to support their families. These products are now for sale on SHOFCO’s Etsy page.

 

 

“I was afraid that my neighbors would speak badly about me, abuse me, or stop associating with me. There was such a stigma around being [HIV] positive. All of us in SWEP had been doing the same thing - hiding - but once I opened up, we all realized that there were quite a few of us living with HIV. So when we discovered that we weren’t alone, we felt much more comfortable and we found in each other a community where we all fit in...SWEP has helped me so much financially and emotionally. I used to go about my life thinking, ‘I could die any day now.’ After we became a support group, I realized that it’s not about dying; it’s about finding other ways of living.” - Alice

 

International Women's Day: Marsella's Story

For International Women's Day, we're highlighting a few members of the SHOFCO Women's Empowerment Project (SWEP), which provides business training and support groups for women in the slums of Kibera and Mathare who are HIV-positive. We hire our SWEP members to create beautiful handmade goods - from beaded bracelets to yoga bags - providing a means for them to support their families. These products are now for sale on SHOFCO’s Etsy page.

“SWEP has helped me come out and come to terms with my [HIV] status. It even gave me the courage to finally share my status with my mother. I was so afraid before of telling her or anyone else because I had no idea what their reaction would be. How would they perceive me? I came to the support group and saw so many women who were living positively and who were really healthy, so I was encouraged to live a positive life and live it openly. 

I knew tailoring before I came to SHOFCO, but now I could be paid for my work. I didn’t know beadwork, so I also learned that. Now I’m able to earn money from both skills!” - Marsella

International Women's Day: Rosemary's story

For International Women's Day, we're highlighting a few members of the SHOFCO Women's Empowerment Project (SWEP), which provides business training and support groups for women in the slums of Kibera and Mathare who are HIV-positive. We hire our SWEP members to create beautiful handmade goods - from beaded bracelets to yoga bags - providing a means for them to support their families. These products are now for sale on SHOFCO’s Etsy page.

Rosemary Achieng

Rosemary Achieng

“I had a business before I became sick [with HIV]. It was doing very well, but then people stopped buying things from me. 'Don’t buy from her, she’s sick,' they’d say. Eating became difficult, first because I had less money and couldn’t buy food, but then I thought it would be easier to stop eating and just die. People didn’t want to look at me, to talk to me, to associate with me. I thought I should just die, because life was so hard... I came to the SHOFCO Women's Empowerment Project (SWEP) because I wanted to join a support group.

SWEP has helped me financially. Through the group savings and loans program, I’m able to save, get loans for my business or even for personal purposes. Saving money has enabled me to grow my business and sell more sweaters. The beadwork also brings in an income, which helps me take care of my family. 

SWEP has also helped me emotionally. Through the support group, I get encouragement from the other women, we talk about our problems and challenges and help each other solve them. We also have fun together. We sing and dance together, we laugh, we feel so comfortable with each other. We don’t want any of our members to live with stress or sadness. When I go home, I’m alone but when I’m with the group, I am at peace.” - Rosemary Achieng

From Chicago to Nairobi: A Lesson in Hope with SHOFCO

This blog is a reflection from the team at one of our awesome partners, Solstice Mobile! It was originally published on their site, but we couldn't help but share! 

By John Sullivan
Contributions to this blog were made by Allison Glaubke, Ricky Keller, Nathan Ley, and David Maslowski.

When I got the news that I was selected to go to Kenya as part of Solstice’s Digital Solutions Grant Program, to say I was euphoric would be an understatement. I remember not being able to sleep. I remember feeling extremely fortunate. I remember thinking: outside of going halfway across the world, I have absolutely no idea what to expect.

In June, we began working remotely with Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), a nonprofit based in slums of Kibera, Nairobi. SHOFCO contributes to their communities in a variety of significant ways. Between free health care, education for girls, water & sanitation initiatives, and community empowerment - we knew there were plenty of opportunities for us to work together. As we started to define our collaboration and partnership, we agreed that an initiative related to their free health clinics allowed the greatest opportunity for us all to deliver a focused and meaningful solution.

And so in mid-August, we began. Using an agile delivery process with aspects of human-centered design, and communicating through Skype in the form of weekly calls and one-off discussions, we worked through the details of building an automated SMS messaging system to remind patients about their upcoming appointments. Through initial discovery research and a process called journey mapping, we discovered clinicians were manually sending out text messages and calling patients to remind them about their appointments. Our goal with the automated system was to allow clinicians to focus on the more strategic aspects of their caregiving and community health education.

Originally, our plan was to have the majority of our solution built by the time we landed in Nairobi. In having it built beforehand, we could use the time on the ground to test, gather feedback, and iterate on improvements. Certainly this was an aggressive task, and as can be expected when building software, we encountered both success and failure - the automation worked, but once on the ground, full integration proved more difficult than any of us had thought.

And that’s where the fun really began.

But first, a note on the Kibera community and the experience of being on the ground with our SHOFCO teammates.

Though I’d heard a few things about Kibera, I didn’t do any research beforehand - wanting to go into the first day with an open mind and no preconceived notions. I was aware Kibera was a poor community, and there is no denying its people are experiencing varying degrees of unspeakable inequity and hardship. And yet, Kibera is rich with energy, life, happiness, and hope.

Walking to SHOFCO, the first thing that struck my teammates and I, was the incredibly enterprising nature and atmosphere of Kibera. As an outsider with a degree of uneducation on the day-to-day lives of those in the community, it is something that will stay with me the rest of my life. The people there are faced with inequities we may never fully understand. And yet, they smile. They build businesses. They sacrifice for their families. They are servant leaders for their community. As we experienced the broad reach of SHOFCO’s programs and spoke with those impacted, the notion that hope can be given and used for empowerment became a very tangible and concrete understanding.

So there we were, in Kibera, at SHOFCO. Solution built and living on a flash drive. Although we hadn’t integrated or tested it on their systems yet, all we had to do was plug in and make it work. Easy peasy, right?

Of course nothing worthwhile is ever that easy. But through the dedication of my teammates and the incredible support and collaboration of our SHOFCO counterparts, we stayed flexible and delivered a solution that takes into account pre-existing systems used by the clinicians and insights gained through conversations with patients and beneficiaries. The system will go into use this year, and as it does, we hope to provide support and iterate on future implementations and improvements.

As we left Kibera for the last time, I allowed myself a moment to reflect. I had come to Kenya to form partnerships and friendships. I’d come in an attempt to apply my professional skills to an avenue with greater human impact. I’d come to Kenya to further a notion of world citizenship. I’d come because of the incredible opportunity to work with SHOFCO. As I reflected on that, I was speechless. I mean, what can you really say about a life-changing experience?

Special thanks to our friends at SHOFCO, Alba Gituru, Peter Okoth, Naomi Kirui, Johnson Abuto, and Jordyn Wells.