Fast tracking Role modeling in Kenya

1 04 2009

By Florence Sipalla

Students from Ikawa, Kenya at the AWARD role modelling event

Students from Ikawa, Kenya at the AWARD role modelling event

Displaying great team spirit, AWARD Fellows from Kenya worked together to make the first AWARD role modeling event a success. The event was held at Ikawa Secondary School on 13 March, 2009.  The event opened with Eve Kiara, Kenya’s Eastern Provincial Home Economics Officer.

In a powerful address, Eve, shared her background with the students, demonstrating how mentoring from her undergraduate lecturer got her to pursue a postgraduate degree in agriculture.  She also highlighted the contribution by Charity Kabutha, a current AWARD Mentor who offered her mentoring support as she progressed in her career.  The audience could not miss the centrality of agriculture in Eve’s life; she credits the Mexican 142 bean variety for enabling her to enrol in secondary school.  She sold the beans and managed to raise Ksh 360 that was required for school fees.

In a powerful address that had the audience nodding in agreement, Eve encouraged the students to be deaf to those who discourage them using a narrative about frogs in a race to climb a tall building despite negative remarks from spectators.  At the end of the race, only one tiny frog had made it to the top.  Out of curiosity to find out the tiny frog’s strategy, spectators discovered that the frog was deaf; it never heard the voices of those shouting words of discouragement!  Eve encouraged the students to strive to achieve their goals and ignore those who tell them they cannot make it.  Drawing from the Obama campaign slogan ‘Yes We Can!’ she got the students chanting “Yes I can, Yes I will do it.”

AWARD Fellows at the role modeling event shared their profiles with the audience. Though backgrounds were diverse, they all shared one thing in common –a love for agriculture and the ambition to excel.  Some of the fellows even joked that though they went to rural schools that were not on the map, they still made it to university.  Through their powerful testimonies, fellows tried to dispel the perception that agriculture was all about getting one’s hands dirty with little in return.  Jesca Mbaka, post masters AWARD fellow illustrated this point in a poignant story of a young man who couldn’t gain admission to a state sponsored program despite good marks on his exams. Using his entrepreneurial skills, he grew and sold bananas to raise funds to pay for the self-sponsored university program.   Encouraging  students to take advantage of the opportunities available to them, she emphasized that one only needs to only gain access to key resources for production such as land  to be able to cultivate it for profits.   Jesca further encouraged students to join young farmer’s club to enable young people to contribute to food security at their own level.

Sheila Okoth, a post doctorate AWARD fellow shared with students various careers in the field of agriculture, highlighting the possibilities of important agricultural professions as policy makers, academics, researchers and extension workers.  Dora Kilalo and Waceke Wanjohi spoke to the role of agriculture in achieving food and income security and the role of negative social perceptions in turning young women away from agriculture as a profession.  Key school participants present pointed to the critical importance of the AWARD role modeling event and other similar activities in transforming perceptions of agriculture as a science promising future careers for girls in Kenya.

AWARD Fellows in attendance included Violet Moraa, Nenkari Hedwig Juma, Miriam Otipa, Dora Kilalo, Waceke Wanjohi and Jesca Mbaka. Student from Ikuu Girls High School were in attendance.

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4 responses

1 04 2009
charity osei-amponsah

Hi Kenya AWARD Fellows,
Congratulations, that was wonderful. More grease to your elbows and continue soaring, we are proud of you.

1 04 2009
Vicki Wilde

My hearty congratulations to the Kenyan Fellows for this excellent and inspiring event! I’ll bet those children will never forget you…. I also send my warmest regards to Charity, with thanks for her contributions as a mentor.
Cheers,
Vicki

2 04 2009
Joy

This is simply great. I forsee a ripple effect as these ones tell their friends and they tell their friends and they tell their friends……(:-))

9 04 2009
Chiko

Kenyan Fellows

That is the way to go bravo!! Lets join hands to continue casting the net widely by enticing these girls to join the sector. Keep the fire burning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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