Our 2008 mid-year conference was delayed then cancelled due to the political turmoil that erupted after the 2007 presidential elections. Thankfully, all of our PATHWAYS scholars and their families survived the disturbances.
We combined the mid-year conference and the annual conference by having an all day meeting with break out discussion sessions, presentations, and planning for the annual project proposals due May 30. Dr. Mbaabu Mathiu, our vice president in Kenya, and Deb Gust, President, were in attendance along with the PATHWAYS scholars.
One of the ideas put forth by Dr. Mathiu is the establishment of a common community project that would be worked on by all of the PATHWAYS scholars in addition to their individual community projects. The focus of the first project will be peace and reconciliation in the aftermath of the 2007 election turmoil and displacements. Other plans for the coming year include
- quarterly meetings focusing on capacity building and
- monthly postings to a group e-mail or blog regarding project progress and other relevant issues.
Because the PATHWAYS program is about empowering youth to become leaders, we asked the scholars to discuss several issues concerning the improvement of the PATHWAYS program in Kenya including ideas to better communicate to donors how their money is being used; ways to improve the cohesion of the scholars; and where PATHWAYS will be in five years. This activity allowed the scholars to discuss in small groups their ideas to improve PATHWAYS and outline its direction in the future.
One of the ideas they discussed is their own sponsoring of scholars when they graduate and obtain employment. This was deemed a good way of keeping scholars engaged in PATHWAYS and taking ownership of the future of the organization.
This year we gave out two awards: “Scholar of the Year 2007” and “Most Improved 2007”. We were happy to award Isaac Ngere the PATHWAYS Scholar of the Year 2007 award for his excellence in academics, his self sustaining orphanage community project development, and his assistance in implementing and expanding the PATHWAYS mission.
Lily Chepkorir received the PATHWAYS Most Improved 2007 award for her rapid progress in implementing and sustaining her bee hive and tree nursery projects in her community. Each came with a small monetary award.
The scholars’ presentations showed the thought and work they have put into their projects in addition to keeping up with their academic demands. The community projects require that the scholars work with
other members of their communities and sometimes local politicians and officials to plan and carry out their ideas.