Monday, December 8, 2008


December 7, 2008

The training is over, the event is over, and I’m on my way home. What a rewarding trip this was. I was hired to impart my wisdom and experience to girls and young women and I feel like I am coming home with so much more than I could ever possibly give.

I would say the overall theme of this trip was “Pay It Forward.” That started with the slogan of the Women Mentorship Walk on November 29. It was highlighted throughout my time in Kenya and it is so true.

I bought from five suppliers for Up from the Dust—including two of the young women I trained. For both of them, it is their first sale to America, the first sale outside of Kenya. They are now global.

The other two new organizations help either specifically rural women or women with HIV and AIDS. They have new, unique products and the wealth is being spread. I’m excited to see the reaction.

I had my hair braided by Cynthia and her Aunt Josey. Cynthia was one of the two 12-year-olds in the training. She was orphaned two years ago and lives with her Aunt, who has a hair salon in one of the slums. They came to my hotel room and it took them 7 hours to do the braiding. I paid them almost double what they asked for in compensation. It was an added bonus just to spend the time with them. Josey is having trouble coming up with the money for Cynthia’s school fees. Cynthia has been the first in her class since she started Level 1 (she is now Level 8). What a loss it would be to society if Cynthia could not continue in school and pursue her dreams.

I made new business partnerships for future business in Kenya, which will be exciting benefit to both myself and my new partners. I hooked several women up with other women from the United States where I think there may be good synergies and good business. Pay it forward.

I donated medical supplies to Dr. Obama of CARE International. And two books written by my friend Joan Bourque to school libraries. Pay it forward.

I went to an African Art Gallery that a woman owns who was the WBF training on Nov. 28. I bought some wonderful that I may want to include in Up from the Dust in the future. In the meantime, I’ll be wearing them and enjoying them myself! Pay it forward.

THANK YOU to Vital Voices for giving me this experience. THANK YOU to the girls for letting me into your lives. THANK YOU to my co-trainers, Phyllis and Eva. THANK YOU to the Nike Foundation for focusing on the girls and carrying through with the funding for these great programs. THANK YOU to Nyokabi for the mentor walk. THANK YOU to Raychelle for trusting me as a new business partner and immediately setting up a government appointment so we can move forward. THANK YOU to Eva for sharing your church and your family with me. THANK YOU to all the Kenyans who make this a special “second home” to me!

There are more stories to tell. Small, but significant. I’ll keep them coming for the next week. Hope you enjoy them.

P.S. Mark your calendars for May 20-23, 2009, (dates changed from March) when the Kenya Association of Women Business Owners will be hosting an international conference and presenting the first ATHENA International Leadership Awards in Africa!

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