Group of happy Akili Dada scholars
On Monday, January 30th, the White House honored Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg as one of fourteen Champions of Change who are leaders in American Diaspora communities with roots in the Horn of Africa. These leaders are helping to build stronger neighborhoods in communities across the country, and are working to mobilize networks across borders to address global challenges. The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative and highlights Champions from various sectors, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs. You can read the full press release on Akili Dada's blog or watch Wanjiru speaking at the event.
Here's an excerpt from Wanjiru's blog post on the White House Champions of Change blog, talking about some of the incredible young women in whom Akili Dada invests and who are being nurtured to become the next generation of African women leaders:
"We invest in young women like Faith, one of Africa’s new generation of dazzling young social entrepreneurs and co-founder of Azma.co.ke. Started by a group of young women in high school, the innovative online platform allows high school students from across Kenya to connect, exchange ideas, and organize community service activities, mentoring, and outreach events in communities around the country.
We are also investing in Gloria, the daughter of casual laborers who survived Kenya's gory post-election violence after watching her baby brother burned alive in their meager home. She has twice emerged among the country's top students and is now thriving on a full scholarship to medical school. Displaying a resilience rare in one so young she writes, "I dream day and night of how I am going to transform my community, society and country at large. I want to make a difference and Akili Dada has empowered me to do just that."
Akili Dada also intervened in the lives of Sharon and Winnie when lack of school fees had them on the verge of dropping out of the top-ranked high schools in the country. Both are now thriving on full scholarships at some of the best universities in the United States and are active members of their new American communities. Describing her experience mentoring girls at a local high school Sharon writes, “every time I spend time with girls at Poughkeepsie high school I take pride in trying to show them that being poor does not necessarily mean [being] undignified. I know this because everyone in Akili Dada has modeled it to me.”
High school alumna Gloria interns for Akili Dada
Scholar presenting at Akili Dada conference
Akili Dada mentor with scholar
Wanjiru (2nd from right) honored at White House