Our training started today. The Nike Foundation introduced their powerful programs by showing their videos. (Please go to the website that I highlighted at the end of the day yesterday and view these videos.) The PEPFAR program was introduced and what the girls will be doing on Friday with the corporate launch of the HIV Free Generation program. Our purpose in this training is to teach the girls leadership and communication skills. We want to make them realize that they are already leaders! And how to communicate their story and their leadership messages.
I had high expectations for this training, but was somewhat concerned when the young ladies were identified (less than 24 hours before training was to begin!) because I would be working with women who were ranging from 12 to 23 years old!
But my expectations were by far exceeded. These girls are incredible! They started showing their leadership and profound thoughts from our first team-building exercise in the morning.
And it is such a joy to work with my two co-trainers, Phyllis Mwangi and Eva Muraya. They are working on the girls leadership skills and communicating those. Their presentations are lively, make the girls laugh and really add a great dimension. Eva had the girls come up with the Peacock Formula—which was 28 words that start with P that traits of leaders. (Why Peacock? Well, it starts with P, the girls thought it was a fun word and Peacocks are regal and proud—a good look for a leader!)
In the afternoon we worked on finding out the girls’ stories. Sometimes we had to push and prod and pull to get them to share, but they understood the value in that, as well. I’ve put a brief version of the girls’ stories below—this is the information that will be going out to the press for Friday’s event and gives you an idea of the phenomenal girls I am getting to know. I have added some of my side notes in parentheses.
Joyce Waithaka, 20, was raised by her mother in Muchatha. She won a business plan contest when she was 18 and opened a bakery. She now employs two other young women, including an orphan, because “if they make money and learn a trade they won’t participate in behaviors that endanger themselves.” (Today when we were envisioning a “world leader”, Joyce envisioned one of her employees. She feels her mentorship and employment may have this type of impact on this girl’s life).
Ann Agesa, 12, is a Girl Guide and lives in Nakuru with her parents. As a peer educator, she teaches other youth about HIV/AIDS prevention. She helped develop a handbook for other peer educators. She wants to be a doctor.
Cynthia Aginga, 12, lives with her aunt and uncle, their two children and her four siblings in Kasarani. Her father died when she was one year old and her mother died of cancer two years ago. Cynthia has been number one in her class at school from Class 1-8, and she won an essay contest on “Something I’ve Never Told Anyone About”. She is a member of Chill Club, which teaches youth about being an HIV Free generation. She wants to be a pilot because she wants to travel to different countries. (Cynthia is ashamed of being an orphan and did not want to publicly share that part of her story. We are working with her on being proud of who she is, where she comes from, and what she is accomplishing despite the odds against her).
Stephanie Shipemo, 20, lives in Jamhuri in Kibera and completed Level 4 this year. She dropped out of school after getting pregnant from a rape, but went back to school and completed her studies. “I am an overcomer” she says! She wants to be a beautician and make a better life for her two-year-old daughter. (Stephanie said it is the first time she told anyone about being raped.)
Maureen Atieno, 18, is a community organizer. She is a leader with the Binti Pamoja program in Kibera. She has recruited all the girls from her immediate community (30) and works with the “Kicking AIDS Out” program. She wants to be a lawyer. (We are teaching Maureen that she is a “community organizer” like President-Elect Obama! Why? BECAUSE SHE IS!!)
Maggy Muthoni, 20, is a single mother of a two-year-old and owns multiple businesses in Baba Dogo. She has learned to save money every month rather than buying snacks. Her family left the Masai over tribal conflict before she started school. Maggy was instrumental in uniting the Kikuyus and Luos in her community after the post-election violence. Many peers seek her out for her insight and guidance and personal and professional matters. She takes good care of her son, who has some health challenges.
Queen Atieno 17, lives in Baba Dogo where she works at a beauty salon seven days a week. She lives with her aunt because her parents and four siblings fled Nairobi after the election violence. She wants to expand her business, buy her own home where she will live with her younger siblings and find a caring and faithful man.
Cecilia Katungwa, 23, lives in Mukuru Fuatanyayo with a brother and little sister. Her mother was an alcoholic and died from TB when she was 13 and Cecilia was raised by nuns in a Children’s Home. She established a knitting and design business two years ago and continues to expand it each year. It is located in the Kenyatta Market. She has cultivated her leadership skills as a Chairwoman of Smart Girls Youth of Life, a savings alliance for young women ages 15-25. (I may be importing some of her items for Up from the Dust!)