Almost four years after my first trip out, I was invited back to East Africa by Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), an awe-inspiring non-profit that works on holistic urban regeneration in Nairobi, to give the commencement speech at their first graduation ceremony ever.
Founded by Kennedy Odede, a movement-builder who was born in Africa’s largest slum, Shining Hope uses healthcare provision, water and sanitation, sports, women’s empowerment, girls education and a host of other initiatives to improve the lives and prospects of people living in Kenyan slums.
The Kibera School for Girls is one of SHOFCO’s earliest initiatives. The school graduated its first set of students in December, and I was invited to join some of their donors and partners for a week of full-on SHOFCO enlightenment and fun. The scale of impact that SHOFCO has had in Nairobi’s slums is immense, and my favourite thing about their model is that community members are at the forefront of the majority of the projects. Poverty is a lack of resources, but certainly not of ability, intelligence or drive.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the friends and partners of SHOFCO, visiting the sites of the libraries, clinics, and ICT centers, and hearing about the history and impact of SHOFCO from its people. It is no exaggeration when I say that KSG’s students are exemplary in every sense of the word, and I’m still so honoured that they wanted me to be part of this special moment in their history. I loved, loved, loved becoming part of the SHOFCO family and came away from my time in Nairobi extremely hopeful for the future of our continent and the world.