March 27, 2010: PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress held its fifth Annual Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference included comments from the President, Deb Gust, and Vice-President, Mbaabu Mathiu, educational presentations on topics of interest to the scholars, the presentation of special awards to two scholars and comments from representatives from four communities where projects have been implemented. Additionally, each of the scholars reported on their community projects listing accomplishments for the past year and plans for the coming year. Continue reading
Our 4th annual conference was held at the Methodist Guest House and Conference Center on April 25. Dr. Mbaabu Mathiu, Vice President in Kenya, Catherine Kaimenyi, Student Coordinator and Deb Gust, President, were in attendance along with the PATHWAYS scholars. Continue reading
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.
Our second annual PATHWAYS conference was a great success. Portia Allen, our volunteer from Emory University, traveled to Kenya to site visit the scholars’ projects, see and hear their progress, and meet with the mentors. She was also able to be on hand to attend the annual conference. Dr. Mbaabu Mathiu, our vice president in Kenya hosted the conference and Betty Auma, our student coordinator, made sure everything ran smoothly.
Entrepreneur, businessman, Rotarian, philanthropist and PATHWAYS mentor Eric Kimani gave the keynote address.
The presentations given by the scholars showed the progress they have made in the past year both academically and with their community projects designed to help Kenya. Isaac Ngere presented on his sustainable orphanage project including his poultry and vegetable projects and HIV awareness programs for the youth. He even completed construction of a building, with help from his community, to provide a learning environment/nursery for the orphans in his village.
Monicah Wairimu gave a presentation on computer security, something she had learned about in her studies at Kenya Methodist University. She continues to work toward developing a self sustaining safe water program in her community to provide rain catchment tanks to her neediest community members in Elementaita who for years have had to live with fluoride contaminated water.
Levis Maina presented on the projects his new volunteer organization “Hands on Kenya” has taken on in the last year including cleaning Kenyatta Hospital wards and helping to repair the buildings and grounds at the SOS Children’s Village (a home for orphaned children).
Lily Chepkorir reported on the progress she has made in developing a bee keeping project as well as a tree nursery to improve the economy in her village of Bomet.
Finally, John Mugo discussed his plans for an HIV/AIDS education program among youth.
We remembered Isaac Ngere’s former mentor, Father D’Agostino, who passed away last year. We are grateful that Father could share his passion for helping others with Isaac even for a short time. All of the PATHWAYS mentors are making a real difference in the lives of our scholars and by extension, the lives of many others through the scholars’ projects: Sister Mary Owens (Isaac Ngere), Eric Kimani (Monicah Wairimu), Mike Eldon (Levis Maina), Lydia Koros (Lily Chepkorir) and Dr. Kimani Njogu (John Mugo).