2024 PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress Annual Conference (June 22-23)

June 22, 2024 City Max Hotel, Nakuru.  This was our 19th conference and we noted how we have evolved due in large part to our Fanz Foundation grant which started in 2017 with the aim to mentor young girls in secondary school.  We are grateful for the activities we have been able to conduct through the Fanz Foundation support.

In attendance were our four senior current PATHWAYS scholars (Dennis Murimi, Robert Baaru, Denis James, and Moses Nyambura), four of our Girl Study scholars (Charity Adhiambo, Freshia Evans, Ziporah Mudeiz, and Deborah Nyabuto)  and girls from the Fanz Foundation-funded Girl Study [Jacinata and Rhonis (Bomet), Joan and Mercy (Homa Bay), Mary and Lucy (Kisumu), and Eunice, Mary, Joyce, Viola, and Sara (Nakuru/Subukia)]. Special recognition goes to our volunteers in attendance: Lily Chepkosgei Too (Bomet), Lencer (Homa Bay), Gladys Chepkurui Moi (Nakuru), Everlyn Ochieng (from Kisumu) and also mother Eunice Wambui Mwangi (from Nakuru), who help mentor and organize the girls.

The day started with an opening and welcome from our Student and Volunteer coordinator, Dr. Catherine Kaimenyi followed by the PATHWAYS girl scholars singing the motivational song BELIEVE by Fearless Soul – “You have to believe in yourself, you have to believe in your ability, you are capable of anything, you can achieve any dream….”.  Senior scholar Moses Nyambura gave an overview of 2023 conference.  Thereafter, the girls went on to tell the group about their experiences in the Girl Study Program (younger girls) and their experiences on campus (older girls).  For instance, Zipporah noted that it is most important to be discerning with friends because some friends may lead you in a negative direction. Jacinta noted that PATHWAYS helped her identify and internalize core values.  Many of the younger girls reported that the PATHWAYS program, Dr, Patrick in particular, helped them become more empowered and courageous in their social interactions.

This year was the first year we encouraged the college and university scholars to present a project in a scientific format.  Dr. Catherine Kaimenyi thought it would help them in their future careers. The scholars took on the challenge! Presentations were on reducing plastic on campus and marketing (Robert Barau and Charity Adhiambo), mentoring youth (Moses Nyambura), organic farming (Denis James), community acceptability of less carbon polluting jikos for cooking instead of fire wood (Dennis Murimi), climate change education (Zipporah Mudeiz), tree planting (Freshia Evans) and eco-businesses (Deborah Nyabuto).

Later in the afternoon, Deb Gust gave a presentation on parenting and society which can be summed up by this quote by Llyod de Mause “Every abandonment, every betrayal, every hateful act towards children returns tenfold a few decades later upon the historical stage…”.  Next, we were so blessed to then hear from Dr. Patrick Nyagah who talked about the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction is the belief that the energy of our thoughts and emotions can draw similar energies from the Universe, influencing our experiences and outcomes. He encouraged the girls to regularly visualize their dreams and goals.  In fact he suggested being very detailed in your visualizations and importantly, imagine that your goal is already achieved.   Some other techniques associated with the Law of Attraction are keeping a gratitude journal, meditation, affirmations, making a vision board and setting intentions.

Girls who had graduated from secondary school received a PATHWAYS award- an orange scarf and a bracelet engraved with “I am a PATHWAYS leader”.  It was so fun to see each girl do a congratulations dance on their way up to receive their award- even more so that they were accompanied by two of their friends. It was a very bonding activity with everyone wearing their orange scarfs.

Towards the end of the day, Dr. Kaimenyi discussed the way forward for PATHWAYS.  First, as she described, there are two scholarship opportunities for the Girl Study graduates: 1) the partial scholarship and 2) a special full scholarship for a 1-year Entrepreneurship certificate at Chuka University. Second, as the Fanz Girl Study Program is concluding at the end of 2024, we are asking the Volunteers to meet with the mothers and other community opinion leaders to determine if they would like to enroll another cohort of Form 1 students (girls/boys) to mentor and support and train.  PATHWAYS would be there to help with pregnancy tests and other support; guiding not leading.  The idea would be to empower the communities to make this kind of youth mentoring program part of their community adolescent development activities.

Lastly, our Transition Small Business Trainer and alumnus, Noah Kanda, was in attendance to discuss updates on the girls’ efforts in starting a small business.  With Noah’s help, several communities have girls who are interested and have made plans to start a small business.  For instance Kitale, Kisii and Kilifi have begun to start small organic farms.  In addition, Noah and James presented on period underwear as an alternative to both disposable and reusable sanitary towels.  Period underwear has an absorbable area that is leak proof.  Importantly Noah and James talked about the need to embrace periods as totally normal and in no way shameful.  Making period underwear for oneself and for sale was suggested as an income generating activity.

We ended with fun dancing that represented all of the cultures of those in attendance.

The next day, Sunday June 23rd, Monicah Nyambura organized a field trip to the Menengai Crater in Nakuru in the Great Rift Valley.  Menengai Crater is a massive dormant volcano with one of the biggest calderas in the world. It is the largest volcano caldera in Kenya and the second largest volcano caldera in Africa.  It was fun exploring down the caldera and posing with friends for beautiful photos. (see last two photos)

We are grateful to all of those who traveled to be at the conference especially those who traveled the farthest –this time it was Dr. Patrick Nyagah.  And as usual, we missed our PATHWAYS scholar, Ken Koome who is studying in Hungary.

2024 PARTIAL Scholarship application–  https://www.pathwayslp.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/2024-Pathways-application-form-partial-scholarship-2024-2025-1.docx

2024 Chuka University Entrepreneurship certificate application– https://www.pathwayslp.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/2024-Certificate-Entrepreneurship-1.docx


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