The Strength of Community
My volunteer title for ONE is Congressional District Leader, which makes me a community leader! By taking on this role I found my confidence to speak up for the many issues I feel so passionately about. I have found my talent and am now just learning to embrace it and inspire others to find their talent and do the same. The power of community here in Kenya is unlike anything I have ever seen. It has been present in the rural villages, among the Kenyan business women, and especially today among the residents of Kibera. We were able to spend some time today at Carolina For Kibera (CFK) http://www.carolinaforkibera.org/, a Kenya based non-profit organization and an associated entity of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—so proud to have this incredible organization from my home state!!
Kibera is one of the largest slums in Africa, measuring approximately 1 square mile (the size of grant park in NY), and home to estimates of 800,000 to 1 million people with 50% of those being under fifteen. The typical size home for a family of 5 (that would be my family) is 10x10 feet. Hearing those statistics you may expect that we would walk into the presumed picture of hopeless Kenyans in despair. Well I am here to clear up that misunderstanding! What I saw today were individuals invested in their community. I was able to spend the afternoon with two of the young women leaders from The Binti Pamoja (Daughters United) Center, which is perfect considering I am the mom of a 14 year old daughter. This center provides a physically and emotionally safe place for adolescent girls to explore the issues that are prevalent in their daily lives. They have peer-led groups called “Safe Spaces” where the girls use photography, drama, writing and group discussion to confront the issues prevalent in their daily lives. These leaders are trained, just as ONE trained me and now they are spreading their talents. I love the CFK tagline, “talent is universal; opportunity is not”. I believe that when we are seen as leaders then we become leaders.
At my ONE events I like to suggest that we can act locally and advocate globally. My second love besides ONE is a local non-profit, DREAMS Center for Arts Education; because I believe it does for my community just what CFK does for theirs. They both exist to develop local leaders, catalyze positive change and are work to alleviate poverty in their respective communities. Rye Barcott is the author of it happened on the way to war: a marine’s path to peace (facebook.com/ryebarcott) and the co-founder of Carolina For Kibera. I was excited to meet him and his staff today and look forward to hosting a ONE event in Wilmington where we can show the power of community!!
Today our daily action ties in with our morning meeting with women entrepreneurs in Karen, Kenya who are leading in building their communities' economies and providing opportunities to others. Again, women being leaders! Check out ONE's report "Africa's Future is Female" to learn more about how women are leading a revolution on the continent: http://one.org/c/international/hottopic/3806/?rc=onemompartner. Then, using hashtag #ONEMoms tell us (@ONECampaign) one thing that surprised you. Or leave a comment on our Facebook page (http://facebook.com/ONE)