Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008
The Women Mentor Walk (WMW) mentoring walk was really a great experience. It was held at the Nairobi Safari Walk of Kenya Wildlife Services. There were about 300-400 women walking. Women were randomly paired up and we walked and talked and looked at the animals.

I went as a mentor and had three women walk with me. One was in her 20s and worked in the Human Resources department of a bank, another was 37 and is the head of Human Resources for a outdoor advertising display company and a 30-year-old woman is a General Practitioner M.D.

A training for mentors was held earlier in the month that I was clearly not able to attend. We were given hand-outs that we could follow that discussed pillars of leadership development, social development and character. Signs were posted along the route (approximately 1 ½ miles) suggesting these topics, as well.

What a terrific morning. We did see some animals, although a lot were hiding in the bush. A brazen baboon (which may be an oxymoron) came up and took a woman’s bag and ripped it open before someone from the Park scared it away. All the other animals were secure behind fences—including the lion, miniature hippos, albino zebras, antelope and many other animals that we saw.

As we walked and talked, it wasn’t important who the mentor or mentee. We talked as women discussing different situations we were in—at our jobs, in our career, with our families, in our life path—and helped each other with suggestions. Jane, the 37-year-old, wants to mentor women so she participated in this walk to get some ideas, and build her confidence.

The main theme for the walk was Pay It Forward and help mold the next generation of leaders. The first WMW was held in New York in 2005and the initiative was founded by Geraldine Laybourne, the Chair and CEO of Oxygen Media. The walk has now spread to four states, Kenya and 10 other countries, including Argentina, Peru, Serbia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Egypt, Jordan and Russia. It is now an initiative of the U.S. State Department-Vital Voices-Fortune 500 Mentorship program.

Dr. Auma Obama was a special guest. She is the Coordinator for CARE International in East Africa and half-sister of U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama. I had a chance to talk to her and we plan on getting together again later in the week. I brought medical supplies from the U.S. that I donated to her to give to some of the clinics she might work with.

Both mentors and mentees were quite excited by the half-day event and I look forward to hearing from my three mentees. Each is on a different path (one has one-year-old twin girls) and I look forward to sharing that with them and seeing them again upon a return visit to Kenya.

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