2023 PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress Annual Conference (June 2-4)

June 3, 2023 Everest Hotel, Kisumu.  Tuna Shukuru means we are grateful in Swahili.  That phrase encapsulates the emotion of our 17th annual PATHWAYS conference.  In attendance were not only our four PATHWAYS scholars, but also girls and moms from our Fanz Foundation-funded Girl Study, and alumni (Jackline Okello, Eunita Akinyi, Lucky Katma, and Noah Kanda). Special recognition goes to our volunteer moms Lister Anyango, Josephine Kbogi, Monicah Akinyi, Gladys Moi and Everlyn Ochieng (from Kakamega, Vihiga, TransNzoai (Kitale), Kisii and Kisumu communities respectively) who help mentor and organize the girls.

The day started with an opening and welcome from our Student and Volunteer coordinator, Dr. Catherine Kaimenyi. This was followed by alumnus Jackline Okella talking about the importance of volunteerism. Next, senior scholar, Robert Baaru, discussed on plans for helping girls transition to college and/or businesses once they graduate from secondary school.  As part of Robert’s leadership activities, he has taken on researching and developing potential business opportunities for girls. In that same vein, Deb Gust talked about the business potential of growing moringa trees (aka The Miracle Tree) and aloe vera to sell as a superfoods as well as the importance of caring for oneself and the environment.

An important part of the program was discussions with the girls and volunteer moms (pictured right) about how the study and program was going from their perspectives. Some of the themes we heard were: 1) mentor and transformative thinking expert Dr. Patrick Nyagah helped the girls learn to take care of themselves in a way that protected them from pregnancy and HIV infection as well as imparting the desire to do well in school and finish their education, 2) the mentoring has made the girls self-confident and better equipped to express themselves.  3) the Kenyan health insurance that moms received for their families as part of the study reimbursement has been helpful, and 4) some of the moms are not repaying their loans which is holding up other moms from benefitting from loans.  This was valuable feedback that will serve to guide program decisions.

Next, alumnus Eunita Akinyi gave an excellent talk on wellness and mental health.  This topic was welcomed and appreciated by all in attendance.  Gloria Mudeizi, a Girl Study participant from Vihiga (pictured left), gave a moving testimonial about how the mentoring intervention by Dr. Nyagah had helped the study girls avoid pregnancy.  She contrasted the number of pregnancies among the Girl Study participants and among the girls not in the study.

It was inspirational to hear the girls sing their PATHWAYS song called “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…. We are hoping this is a song the girls can carry with them and take to heart as they move forward into young adulthood. Girls who had graduated from secondary school received a certificate and a PATHWAYS award- an orange scarf and a bracelet engraved with “I am a PATHWAYS leader” (pictured below).

The next part of the program involved the scholars presenting on innovative ideas that could be used as income generating activities for the girls.  This included a biodigester, healthy juices and smoothies, a solar heater, and a tower garden. These were all good ideas and food for thought. Towards the end of the day, vice-President, Monicah Nyambura, discussed the way forward for PATHWAYS.  As she described, the plan is to have the current scholars and others mentor the girls and help them transition from secondary school to either college/university, a business, or both.  She also encouraged all to focus on thinking of what they can do to help PATHWAYS as it remains small and depends on the goodwill of volunteers.

Alumnus Noah Kanda was in attendance to discuss his role in training the girls on small businesses.  The current ideas are regenerative organic agriculture (e.g. moringa trees, aloe vera, legumes), eco-products, biodigesters, and more.  He remains an active alumnus and dedicated to helping the girls.

Robert Baaru was presented with the Biodigester Award which came with a cash prize (pictured right).

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

The next day, Dr. Catherine Kaimenyi organized a field trip to Lake Victoria in Kisumu.  It was the first time many of those present had seen the lake.  It was an exciting time posing with friends for beautiful photos.

We are grateful to all of those who traveled to be at the conference especially those who traveled the farthest – all the way from Kilifi- Lucky Katma, Brigrit Mpenzwa, Habiba Yahya.  And as usual, we missed our PATHWAYS scholar, Ken Koome.


Persistent, Accountable, Truthful, Hardworking, Welcoming, Appreciative, Yearing for progress, dedicated to Service
*=PATHWAYS scholarship awardee


Charity Adhiambo*

Christine Awino

PATHWAYS girls secondary school graduates from Vihiga. Charity  Andea, Amina, Gloria.


Brigrit Mpenzwa*

Habiba Yaahya

PATHWAYS girls secondary school graduates receiving certificates and gifts at 2023 conference.


Gaudecia Auma

PATHWAYS girls receiving certificates at conference. Gaudicia is retaking her senior year to improve her KCSE.

Godliver Oliechi

PATHWAYS conference participants visiting Lake Victoria. 2023


Freesia Evans*

Zipporah Mudeiz*

Kisumu PATHWAYS girls


Gloria Sabwa*

Charity Andea*

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%.