2022 PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress Annual Conference (May 14-16)

It was good to be together for our annual conference at Rosa Mystica Spiritual Center.  Early on Friday morning before the conference began, we had the opportunity to participate in a tree planting climate change activity in Juja in Kiambu County sponsored by current scholar, Moses Nyambura (see photo at right). Juja is an area where droughts, flooding and extreme temperatures affect the population. Several other current scholars (Nora Okombo, Dennis Murimi, Robert Maina Baaru, James Opiyo) as well as Student Coordinator Dr. Catherine Kaimenyi, Auxillia Omwanda and President Deb Gust joined in the activities.  We planted endemic species at the Precious Blood Primary School, Star of Hope Children’s Home and Woodland Academy.  Moses is President of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Equity Leader’s Club. Many Equity Club members were in attendance supporting Moses and the climate change project. On the same day we visited with the teachers from schools where Moses is mentoring students, among them his former primary school, Thiririka Primary School.  They were quick to tell us about the large impact Moses and his club members are having on their primary school students, from higher attendance, better grades, fewer drop-outs to less drug use.

The conference started Friday evening with Dr. Patrick Nyagah, who heads the Transformative Thinking Center.  He met with the current scholars together and one on one.  He has taught and mentored them since they joined the program.

On Saturday morning, after an opening prayer, James Opiyo and Moses Nyambura each read a poem about PATHWAYS that they had composed themselves.  It was a gift hearing their talents as writers and thoughts about PATHWAYS.  Next, each of the scholars took one of the following key core values of PATHWAYS (Integrity, Leadership, Mentorship, Community service, Communication, Accountability, Selflessness, and Excellence) and gave a presentation with examples from their lives.  Thereafter, Dr. Kaimenyi presented on the importance of deliverables from each community project, Dr. Gust offered information on how to have a happy life, Monicah Nyambura offered feedback on project visits and encouraged scholars to rate their own progress, Dr. Otieno presented on finances and the manner in which scholars are evaluated (academics, community project, and communication), and Auxilla Omwanda presented on the Girl Project and showed  engaging videos of the participants in the various communities.

Towards the end of the day, the alumni present came forward to offer an update on their lives and careers as well as directed some insights and wisdom to the scholars.  Alumni present were Jackline Okello, Sharon Langi, Dr. Shelly Okumu, Levis Maina, and Dr. Brian Maluki.  Apologies were offered from Ken Otieno, Hussein Abdhallah, Lily Chepkorir and Michael Murigi. Importantly, Dr. Maluki, Lily Chepkorir, and Michael Murigi contributed funds to sponsor a new scholar in the PATHWAYS program.  Many thanks to them! Finally, certificates were awarded to scholars who completed the PATHWAYS on-line critical thinking and climate change course in 2021.

Sunday morning began with a presentation by the scholars in the form of an African song called “Bwana ni mwokozi/Christ is my salvation”.  They sounded terrific! After some closing thoughts from everyone, we adjourned. Special thanks to Robert Maina Baaru for volunteering to be Master of Ceremonies.

Preliminary Results of Fanz Foundation-Funded Girl Study

Pathways Leadership for Progress humbly received funding from the Fanz Foundation in 2017 to conduct a study on the feasibility and acceptability of an intervention to reduce frequency of sexual behaviour among adolescent girls in 11 counties of Kenya. The intervention works through local microfinance institutions and community groups to provide training on income generation to mother/guardian and daughter pairs with some of the earned income going to support the girl in secondary school.  Confidential HIV, STD, and pregnancy tests are given to all the girls each term.  When the COVID pandemic hit Kenya, our study was disrupted because the girls had to stay out of school. This left them at risk for increased sexual behaviour.  Because of this, we engaged the services of Dr Patrick Nyagah to conduct life skills and resilience training for all the girls and their mothers. Dr Nyagah, author of the book Transformative Thinking is a motivational speaker and expert on mindset and attitude change.

We are happy to share that preliminary analysis shows that, compared to controls, the intervention has been able to retain the girls in school longer and increase the family income from their mother’s businesses with the effect of improving the family living standards. There has been a reduction in teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, teenage marriages and a delay in the age of age of sexual debut with a resultant improvement in academic performance. Loan repayments currently stand at 68%.

2021 PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress Annual Conference (May 28-30)

The energy level at the 2021 PW conference was even higher and the tone even sweeter than usual given that the 2020 annual conference was cancelled due to the pandemic.  We were happy to be together and realized we have much to be grateful for this year.   To name a few things, we are grateful for our health, the vibrant and dedicated leadership from Dr. Catherine Kaimenyi, Monicah Nyambura, and Dr. Fred Otieno, the enthusiastic current scholars, and last but not least, our loyal alumni.

The conference started Friday evening with a special presentation to the current scholars by Dr. Patrick Nyagah.  Dr. Nyagah heads the Transformation Thinking Center.  He says, “Transformative thinking is a realization that the future belongs to those who refuse to live on the diet of yesterday. Success in life requires that we always review our thoughts and beliefs and adjust our choices to fit the demands of today.”  Dr. Nyagah is not only providing counseling and guidance to our scholars, he is also bringing new ideas and transformative thinking skills to the mothers and daughters in the PATHWAYS Girl Effect Study Project which aims to empower mothers to earn enough income to support their daughters in school.  The expectation is that the next generation of girls will stay in school, go on to further their education, delay marriage and childbirth, avoid HIV infection, and ultimately give back to the community.  Moreover, we expect the mothers to be more financially stable and more able to support their families.  The study is in its third year with three more to go.

The following day was full of exciting information.  After an opening prayer, Monicah Nyambura presented a detailed history of the last 16 years of PATHWAYS to give a jumping off point. Dr. Nyagah gave all of us a review of important factors to balance to assure good mental health and a good life (e.g. spirituality, family, finances), Dr. Kaimenyi presented on the importance of mentorship, Dr. Gust offered information on the opportunities coming with solutions to climate change,  new scholar Denis James recited a poem honoring the opportunities PATHWAYS gives youth, Auxilla Omwanda, the community lead for the Girl Effect Study, presented preliminary data from the 10 communities which showed that the girls in the intervention were performing better than the girls in the control group. We also were happy to recognize Dennis James and Moses Nyambura for their outstanding communication with a certificate and monetary award.

Towards the end of the day, the alumni present came forward to offer some insights and wisdom to the scholars.  One of the many words of wisdom came from Levis Maina, who implored scholars to not give up and revealed that while he has had many successes, he has had failures too, among them being fired. Other alumni present were Jackline Okello, Sharon Langi, Michael Murigi, Nafisa Ayuka, Eric Lemungesi, and Alphonce Oginga (and his lovely wife Fiona).  We were read kind notes of regrets from the following: Hussein Mohammed, Dr Brian Maluki, Justus Lelenguya , Eunita Akinyi, Dr Catherine Kabaire, Dennis Mutwiri, Jemima Kanini, and Dr. Shelly Okumu. Special thanks to Eric for volunteering to be Master of Ceremonies.  We ended the day discussing alumni and the future of PATHWAYS.

After breakfast on Sunday morning, our entire group hit the streets of Nairobi to walk to the Girl Effect Study Kibera site.  There we heard from the mothers regarding how they thought the study was going.  What they were the most happy with were the transformative thinking skills given them by Dr. Nyagah, the National Insurance card given as part of the study, and their improved relationship with their daughters (this was echoed at other Girl Effect study sites).  A very good conference weekend. This quote from Wangari Mathai seems fitting with PATHWAYS current focus on community development and the environment, “Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come.”







Kenneth Koome

  • University of Nairobi, Actuarial Science
  • Project:
  • Meru
  • Mentors: Jemimah Peters, Catherine Kaimenyi

Ken is one of 3 children being raised by a single mother.  He is grateful for the support his mother has given him despite the extreme poverty he and others in his community experienced.  He says, “Going through these challenges taught me resilience and hard work. I learned that absolutely nothing comes freely. I also appreciated the value of paving my own way instead of following the crowd. This really took part in helping me to overcome. Later, I started seeing the value and sweetness of education, which is lacking in our society. Accordingly, I set myself to give back to my society. This is through offering mentorship and showing pupils that great life awaits them if they work hard, and helping the needy according to my means. Giving back to society is one of my missions in life.”