Nancy Obonyo Birundu

  • Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Nursing
  • Project: Mentoring high school girls
  • Kiambu Kenya
  • Mentors: Catherine Kaimenyi, Shilla Siambe

Nancy is a third born in a family of four children.  Her father passed away when she was only five years of age. Her mother is a vegetables vendor in Kisii. She successfully got Equity bank’s scholarship under their Wings to Fly program. The scholarship funded her four year high school study, at the end of which she scored an A- . She thereafter attended an eight month internship program at Equity bank. Her PATHWAYS project focuses on mentoring high school girls to assure they stay in school.

2019 Annual Conference in Eldoret

 We were excited to have our first annual conference in 14 years outside of Nairobi – this year in Eldoret.  Many thanks to the on-site organization team, Monicah Nyambura, Noah Kanda, and Lily Mitea, for choosing a perfect venue, the lovely Wagon Wheel Hotel. The first morning of the conference started with a Yoga session to focus, mind, body and spirit.  After Breakfast, we heard from Kennedy Githua, a financial advisor and Certified Public Accountant, who took us expertly through several areas of financial management.  Mr. Githua is assisting the PATHWAYS Girl Study Project whose aim is to empower mothers and girls through training on income generating activities and financial management so that money is available to pay for girls’ school fees as well as to help with uplifting the entire family and thus community. Auxillia Omwanda, Project Manager, provided an enlightened update on

2019 conference attendees

the status of the project and PATHWAYS scholar Jackline Okello followed with a presentation on lessons learned as her community of Kitale is the first of 10 communities where the study will be carried out.  Deb Gust gave a presentation on the urgent issue of climate change using the slides from her training with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project with a focus on Kenya. Several scholars and Dr. Fred Otieno volunteered to follow-up to learn more about the Kenya Climate Smart initiative and the carbon offset certification program. Relatedly Isaac Obago presented on the United Nations Foundation Global Alliance for clean cookstoves manual, developed to improve health, empower women and protect the environment. Isaac also presented on his experience with d.lights Solar, a company with the goal of facilitating the replacement of polluting kerosene with safe, reliable and clean solar powered light by 2020 to 100 million people in Africa. The highlight of the day was hearing the community project reports from each of the scholars and alumni.  That is where the scholars can really shine in their leadership abilities.  Of course, there are always challenges, but the good thing is that suggestions were shared and discussion helped find the way forward.

Scholar Coordinator and mentor, Dr. Catherine Kaimenyi, presented on the revised PATHWAYS guidelines and expectations, based on a systems approach, that will increase transparency and accountability and foster integrity.  This will increase trust and set a good example for the PATHWAYS scholars and alumni.

The following day we all took a field trip to Kitale where the Girl Project has been running for several months. It was such a positive bonding experience for the scholars to meet as a group with the mothers and daughters in the study and hear from each of the participants.  One girl said, “Our ambition as girls and students is to go far. We ask our mothers not to pass the challenges they have had onto us. My thanks to my mom for encouraging me to do well in school.  We are grateful to PATHWAYS for the project.”  The scholars also had the opportunity to share with the mothers and daughters on their own personal journey from secondary school to where they are now, either still in university or already PATHWAYS alumni out in the world and offer advice to the young girls and mothers.

We are blessed and honored to witness PATHWAYS alumni becoming philanthropists.  Last year, Dr. Brian Kilonzi and Dr. Catherine Kabaire donated $200 to PATHWAYS.  It was the first such donation received.  This year Marilyn Nyabuti and Shelly Okumu, together donated over $100 to support the 2019 annual conference.  We are grateful for their generosity and spirit of paying it forward so other scholars can benefit from the PATHWAYS program.  Many thanks!

It is noteworthy that so many PATHWAYS alumni attended the 2019 conference.  They included Shiella Siambe, Dr. Shelly Okumu, Lily Mitei, Dr. Brian Kilonzi, Ken Otieno, Nafisa Ayuka, Dr. Catherine Kabaire, and Isaac Obago. We are honored to not only have our alumni attend conferences, but also serve as advisors to the PATHWAYS leadership  and mentors to the current scholars.  We are all looking forward to the 2020 annual meeting, which will be PATHWAYS 15thanniversary, already.


2018 Annual Conference

The PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress annual conference was  held at the beautiful Savelburg Retreat Centre in Nairobi.  Appreciation is extended to Lucky Katama and Mohamad Ahameed for making the necessary arrangements under the guidance of mentor and coordinator, Dr. Catherine Kaimenyi.  In addition to our eight current scholars, we were honored to be joined by five alumni (Noah Kelly, Brian Kilonzi, Catherine Kabaire, Eric Lemungesi, and Michael Murigi) in person and five alumni (Monicah Nyambura, Alphonce Oginga, Jemima Peters, Justus Salach and Levis Maina) through correspondence.  All presented on the progress they are making in their chosen careers, an update on their community projects, and insights and lessons learned since they have graduated. The current scholars gained much from their insights, advice, and encouragement. The topic of self-care was discussed in the context of each scholar’s life as an individual and as a role model for their community groups (Deb Gust) as was the topic of life purpose (Prof. Mathiu).  The scholars enjoyed time to bond during meals and outdoor games.  In addition, they wrote and performed a skit to illuminate the issues surrounding girl and boy child education issues.

One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of a donation to PATHWAYS by alumni, Dr. Brian Kilonzi and Dr. Catherine Kabaire.  Their action seems to embody the following quote by Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

At the conclusion of the conference, Dr. Fred Otieno facilitated the scholars’ discussion of their project progress.  In addition, he described a new platform for their projects that is based on his study to uplift low income families through microfinance, income generation activity trainings, mentorship, and education.

2017 Annual Conference

PATHWAYS LEADERSHIP FOR PROGRESS held its annual conference at the Olooseos Adventure  campsite in Ngong, Kenya from April 29 to April 30th, 2017. The program was run efficiently by fourth year scholar, Samuel Akolom.

We were graced by the presence of many of PATHWAYS alumni: Monicah Nyambura, Michael Murigi, Alphonce Oginga, Catherine Kabaire, Dr. Brian Kilonzi, and Dr. Shelly Okumu. Dr. Fred Otieno (mentor) led the initial group discussion of the scholars’ community projects, guiding the scholars to help one another through the benefit of their own experiences.  Many of the new community projects are focusing on education and mentorship of boys and especially girls. Table banking or microloans to start small businesses or to pay childrens’ school fees are part of many projects.

Thereafter, Monica Nyambura (alumnus) spoke on the topic of handling life challenges and alumnus Dr. Catherine Kabaire volunteered to organize a support group for the new scholars. Monicah, Catherine and the other alumni, Shelly Okumu, Alphonce Oginga, Michael Murigi, spoke about what PATHWAYS has meant to them in their careers.

Shelly explained, “PATHWAYS taught me valuable leadership skills, project management, timeliness as well as offering a source of friendships”.

The first day, Saturday, ended with team building exercises led by Samuel.