Feb 4, 2019

Reaching Out

When Action Two Africa met with Alice in 2016, she was living with her sister in the Kiambiu slum. She was struggling to find stable food, shelter, clothing, and didn’t know how she would pay her school fees. Despite worrying about what she would eat every day, or if her home would withstand another rainy season, her main concern was whether or not she would be able to finish secondary school. At an early age, due to her circumstances,  Alice had lost hope that she would be able to pursue an education and fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher. After Humphrey, Action Two Africa’s founding partner, met with Alice and her family, he assessed their needs, and welcomed her to our Child Sponsorship Program, where she would receive school fees and school-related necessities, stability at school, and mentoring through A2A’s program.

Upon returning to school, Alice was excited to be back and hopeful that she would eventually become a teacher. She was determined to be a great student, and not let anything distract her. At first, giddy with excitement and hope, school was going well. She was getting good grades, making friends, and was happy to be working toward her goals; however, things began to change when she started experiencing peer pressure at school, which negatively impacted her grades, attendance, and attitude about school. She was lured into the adolescent pull of rebellion and didn’t know how to get out. She knew things had to change in order to continue with school and have a future, but she was struggling, and didn’t know what to do.

Her grades began to decline, but when Humphrey was notified, he went to talk to Alice about the struggles happening at school. Several meetings and mentoring sessions later, Alice was able to see that she had to make a choice. She could either continue to skip school and fail out, or she could pursue her goals and continue forward with school. Throughout the process Humphrey encouraged her to think about her future and what she truly desired in life, but most importantly, he simply listened to her.

We’re happy to say that through mentoring and support, Alice made the decision to stick with school. Today, she is in Form 4 (a senior in high school). She is committed to her studies, and is even top of her class!

When Humphrey sent me this story from the ground in Kenya, I starting thinking about how truly important it is to have people who encourage and support us not only through our struggles, but also through the good times. We are thankful for Humphrey and his dedication to mentoring the children in our Program, and also thankful for all of you who have encouraged us through words, kindness, and donations, to continue doing the work we do at Action Two Africa. Being there for someone and supporting them, whether it be a friend, neighbor, mentee, stranger, or loved one, really does make a positive impact. But this is more than just a nice story. It’s also a challenge. We each have resources and talents that position us to help others. So my question to you is also a challenge: Who needs your encouragement today? Whose life will you reach out and touch today? Who in your community can you, through kind words and listening, impact today?

Jan 17, 2019

The Wrong Focus

Whatever you focus on, you get more of.

In the 1850s, Americans had a life expectancy of 45 years. Only 10% of the country had access to secondary education. The infant mortality rate was almost 20%. But what America did over the next century was unprecedented. American entrepreneurs innovated. They built products that, once considered luxuries, were suddenly accessible to the average household. Incredible infrastructure and whole industries developed around these products. It wasn’t until after Henry Ford made the car affordable to the average American that roads were built, suburbs were developed, and agriculture became more productive.

America focused on innovation... and development, infrastructure, and prosperity eventually followed.

We spend billions of dollars every year trying to eradicate poverty, yet many countries receiving the largest portions of aid are poorer today than they were 50 years ago. So why do we continue to focus on poverty?

What we have realized is that we are focusing on the wrong target. When we focus on poverty, we see everything through that lens. Focusing on not being poor is like focusing on not running your car into a ditch. Whatever you fix your eyes on, you will eventually collide with. What we should focus on instead, is the road ahead of us.

Our mission at Action Two Africa is to create innovators who will drive their country and their economies forward. We focus on education because it is through this means that we empower today’s youth to become tomorrow’s inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs. Our focus is on the road ahead.

Our mission is not to push resources on communities. Rather, it is to enable and empower children to get an education, so they can create their own resources. That is the only way forward.

So with this focus in mind, will you consider joining our mission?

Nov 12, 2018

What do they have in common?

Ilhan and Jackline
Ilhan and Jackline

Ilhan Omar spent a good portion of her childhood living in a refugee camp in Kenya. When she was 14 years old, she had the opportunity to move to the United States and later, receive a college education.

On November 6, 2018, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali American elected to the United States Congress, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, the first Muslim refugee to be elected to the House of Representatives, and the first woman of color to serve as a U.S. Representative from Minnesota.

What does this have to do with Action Two Africa? While Ilhan was never a part of any of our programs during her time in Kenya, she is a model of just how incredible the achievements of young, educated women can be. With her recent election, she has shown us, and the thousands of young women living in poverty in Kenya, that there is no obstacle that can’t be overcome, no achievement that can’t be won, no dream that can’t be realized by young women in Kenya.

Ilhan is now over 8,000 miles away from the refugee camp where she lived in Kenya, but 8,000 miles isn’t a distance that her influence and inspiration can’t reach across, and remind us that, if given the right opportunities,  young women everywhere, no matter their background, are capable of great things.

 
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