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I worked as a program officer on HIV/AIDS program in Nyanza region in 2013. This made me realize that many orphaned children lacked information on sex and sexuality that made them more vulnerable to early sex in quest of making ends meet. I saw myself as part of them and desire for justice was burning inside me. Courageously without experience of parenting, I developed parenting skills curriculum that builds skills of parents and caretakers to have effective parent-child communication more so on sexual education. Through the support of world vision international, I led a team of facilitators that implemented parenting skills training in 13 counties in Western and Nyanza regions of Kenya. We managed to train 1096 caregivers who look after over 70,000 orphans and vulnerable children.
Later, I went back to my village where teenage pregnancy and school dropout was rampant. I established CECED; an initiative that empowers young women and girls with sexual reproductive health information. With the support of African women Development fund, we reached to over 2500 girls and young women through sports that saw delayed sexual debut, increased demand and supply and uptake of reproductive health services across the county. In recognition of my commitment, I was selected for the prestigious regional Young African Leadership Initiative fellowship to advance my leadership skills. I was also selected as a demographic dividend champion by PRB’s PACE project for a stellar job in advocacy. As an expert on issues on reproductive health and gender-based violence, I have played an active role in engaging in several activities to address reproductive health challenges and gender-based violence both locally and nationally through sports, cultural events, mentorship programs, radio interviews aimed at educating the public on sexual reproductive issues. I was also a member of the team that reviewed 2007 national youth policy. Currently, I run Health Renaissance network; a platform that seeks to improve county health sector and nurture interests of young health professionals as well as sharing experiences, challenges and best practices about health profession.
In 2018, I was selected as the first Kericho youth governor to represent a population of over 300,000 youths. With the advent of devolution and creation of county governments, youth affairs were not prioritized. This role made me advocate and lobby for the marginalized youth to be meaningfully involved in agenda setting, policy formulation, and implementation. I have represented and fostered youth’s interest in entire county leadership team during the development of Kericho County Integrated Development Plan 2018-2022 which saw some of the youth issues factored in the plan, provided oversight and foster implementation of 30 percent procurement law across all departments, planned and hosted youth forums aimed at building their capacity on issues affecting them which built hope, proactiveness and resilience amongst them, enhanced collaborations and partnerships with financial institutions that has strengthened entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy and economic strengthening and developed & offered career counseling and skills development programs across and beyond the county.
A leader not only prepares for comfortability and predictability of yesterday but also for realities of today and unknown possibilities of tomorrow.
Networking is the human connections and relationships established interactions with people. Echoing Arese Ugwu’s words, “Having an extensive network allows you to maximize your potential. There are no level playing fields, but it can be argued that in Kenya the field is a little more uneven. A person’s ability to lead and influence others is tightly linked to how well they are able to grow and leverage his or her network to take advantage of opportunities”. In my volunteering programs in HIV/AIDS in 2013, I had the privilege of meeting children, youth and adults from low and high economic status affected and infected by disease together with experts in HIV programs. I often asked questions about their experiences, found common points of interests and found interesting titbits about myself into the conversation. The older people shared knowledge that formed insights during the writing of parenting skills curriculum. It is also here where I got mentors who invested in my growth and saw me succeed in community programs through the elevator pitches I made through their guidance. They linked me to opportunities and shared with me how to convert networks into opportunities. The young children still remain my friends and I offer mentorship to them as pay forward.
In 2016, I attended the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) training in Nairobi for 8 weeks. It was filled with speeches, presentations, panel discussions, virtual learning and breakout sessions. The training was the Eastern African regional platform where young leaders shared experiences and learning on a journey to success as community leaders. It was invigorating as leaders were not only making a huge positive impact in communities but also making a killing financially. The network enabled me to deal with different professionals in the public sector, academia, government, and business and from diverse cultures. It is here where I worked with a team from 5 countries on design challenge, a real-life challenge for a real client with learning programs. After training, I leveraged on the connections and mobilized resources worth $15000 to roll out sexual reproductive health program and later conducted online activism against gender-based violence. To date, we still share opportunities and continue mentoring one another.
My work at county government and advocacy organizations have been instrumental in making the vast network that became a springboard to me as a youth advocate during County Integrated Development as part of budgetary advocacy process. I could get crucial information, especially on public participation. It also made me interact with county chief executives of different departments, county economist and members of county assembly and discussed the need for investing in youths to achieve a demographic dividend & social economic development. It also gave me an opportunity to share information acquired through my networks. The final 5-year county Integrated Development plan factored some youthful proposals. Moreover, I engage in health outreaches, youth and women empowerment as a speaker, facilitator, and mentor. As youth governor, I have organized youth networking forums with stakeholders to spur social, political and economic development and through this, I have engaged in several media platforms, coordinated with organizations like Centre Study for Adolescence to engage, connect, collaborate, update and find opportunities beyond reproductive health.
Diverse network is a source of better identification and greater levels of solutions due to divergent thinking. Chevening platform shall help me build quality friendships across the globe that would transform lives by attracting new businesses, gaining access to partnerships and raising funds for health equity.
In the search for advice on advancing my career, professionals and previous Chevening scholars recommended the UK for post-graduate studies. Together with thirst to meet new people from different cultures, backgrounds, and nations to connect with, I choose the UK. Moreover, I need to discover the world and enhance personal development through the adoption of new culture, belief, and climate besides education.
I desire to study Health policy with the City University of London, a leading provider of healthcare education and research with outstanding teaching and clinical facilities in heart of London. The academic team with specialism is appealing as they come across health and social sectors involved in developing practices and policies informing current and future healthcare systems globally. Continuing personal and professional development portfolio is unique as it tailors activities around professional and personal development. The superb in-house facilities like clinical skills center, VERT, and speech-language therapy Center reflects the real healthcare environment. The health policies in Britain and international health systems module will equip me with skills requisite for dealing with international organizations and strengthening cross-national ties. This is invaluable for me, being a health care provider in a rural setting with limited resources and health inequalities. The course shall equip me with skills requisite for helping meet people’s changing health needs, understanding, analyzing and influencing the health policy process and to operate within a complex policy environment. The London Metropolitan University is offering Health and Social Care management and policy. Its curriculum focusing on policy, management, and collaborative working structures is attractive. Being approved by Royal Society for Public Health and recent revalidation & refocusing increases opportunity to combine the study of health and social policy with special modules in the evaluation, management, social care practice, regeneration, and public health is desirable. The fact that 100 percent of graduates work or further their studies within 6 months is really fascinating by the fact that health education in Kenya is disconnected with reality on the ground and pipeline of health care providers is too limited.
I look forward to pursuing Health Systems and Global Policy with the Queen Mary University of London as it deals with how public policy and market forces operate to shape principles and practice of effective, efficient and fair health care delivery and improvement in different countries. Studying under Dr. David McCoy who worked in South Africa Public Health and Health Systems development that transformed the South African health care system is inspiring. I will learn the role of global health institutions and how health systems are financed and organized. I shall be able to analyze principles of health systems and make global linkages to social, political, economic and cultural issues in Kenya thereby enhancing primary care and shifting from secondary care, disease-oriented to strong primary sector offering proactive, whole patient care through patient education, early diagnosis, self-care support, risk factor and chronic disease management and systemic gatekeeping to the secondary healthcare sector. The emphasis on social determinants of Health, explicit intentions of universal health coverage and equality covers my interests. Multidisciplinary analysis of the course will genuinely broaden education from perspective.
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