Shining hope for communities
I logged unto YouTube one day and came across a couple's TED talk. I was drawn to the video, because of the names of the speakers. The man was black with a name that looked Nigerian, and the woman was white and shared the same surname as the man. So that sparked my curiosity, and I went ahead to take a listen. Kennedy Odede is the founder of SHOFCO organization, which was birth out of his desire for a better life for himself and those who are living in the slums of Kibera, located in Nairobi, Kenya. And no, he isn’t Nigerian.
Image Courtesy of Shofco
Kennedy and his wife, Jessica Posner-Odede met in quite an unusual way. Jessica found out about the organization and decided to email them because she wanted to be a part of what they were doing in Kenya. She dusted up her resume, showed them she was up to the task and made a trip down to Kenya. Somewhere between her meeting Kennedy and working together, they fell in love and got married. Shofco which means—Shinning hope for communities, provides services that interrupt survival mode on the streets, organizes communities and empowers girls who will become the leaders of the future.
In an interview with the legendary Larry King, the couple revealed that they decided to focus on girls because of the gender inequality Kennedy saw first-hand while he was still in the slums, and the abuse his mom and sister suffered while growing up. If people had money in the community where Kennedy grew up, they would instead educate a boy, than a girl. So they wanted to bridge that gap, and change people's way of thinking, towards the girl child. Then girls can now be seen as valuable assets, rather than liabilities to the community.
To sponsor a child costs about $100 a month, this helps supplies their meals, uniforms, stationeries and much more. The organization currently has 76000 people they cater for. With the help of others, these children now have access to clean water, healthcare and empowerment programs. They believe that when a girl is educated, she invests 90% of her earnings in her family, while her children would have lower infant mortality rates in the community.
They also discovered that healthcare and economics are better, and just by connecting services to a girl’s school, more women are now confident about making household decisions about money. With that new found confidence, they invest in their community, children and future.
All of this has helped keep girls off the streets, prevent young girls from child marriage and prostitution. So far 11095 people have had access to clean water, 45% of their girls have gotten A’s in KCPE Examinations, there are now seven healthcare clinics in Kibera, and 1728 entrepreneurship members have been trained.
In addition to the great work they are doing through their organization, they have written a New York Times bestseller titled; Find Me Unafraid, which can be found on Amazon and any other platforms where books are sold. To learn more about them and how you can be a part of this great organization, visit their website on shofco.org.
I love leaders like this, who are committed to their vision and are not afraid to get their hands to dirty and serve their communities. Thank you for taking your time out to read this short article on SHOFCO and see why the spotlight is on them this week. This section of the website is designed for people like you and me, to take our place in our local communities and serve.
The campaign to raise funds for Aiyeteju Primary School is still on; you can click on the hyperlink in the middle of this article to learn more. If there is anyone you would like for us to spotlight on Let’s Talk nation, please leave your comments in the comment section below. Have a great day.