From Beneficiary to Benefactor through Give Back

“I now have more reason to be the change that the world needs,” states Agnes Kavila, one of the girls in the Global Give Back Circle (GGBC) programme. Agnes has been able to transform herself from a mere beneficiary to a benefactor through continuous and simple ways of giving back. Agnes, 23 got to enroll into the GGBC programme through the Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) back in 2008. She was then a Form Three student at the Starehe Girls’ Centre in Nairobi. The Global Give Back Circle is an educational, empowerment, and work readiness transition program for disadvantaged girls in Kenya. Gladys is one of the over 550 girls in the programme.

Through the programme, girls receive scholarships and mentorship, and in return have to offer voluntary service to their community. This has seen Agnes embark on giving back, over the years, especially whenever she is not in school. She has been using the power of her voice to impact others. “It is about what is in me. I am able to lead myself and other people excellently. There are many leadership opportunities out there for me,” says the fourth year Business Management student at Moi University Eldoret. She is studying on full scholarship through a grant provident by USAID.

Soon after she enrolled into GGBC, Agnes started mentoring girls in Form Two by teaching them some skills in Mathematics and Chemistry during her free time. As the school captain, Agnes too found herself volunteering to assist in data entry and other clerical duties at the school sponsorship office.

The GGBC programme provides special courses in managing personal finances and other life skills, and using information and communications technology. This saw Agnes join the ICT Lab within Starehe Girls’ Centre immediately after she sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary School (KCSE) in 2009. She came out equipped with computer skills that saw her land her first internship with Deloitte. As she awaited her results, she went back to her rural home in Kitui County where she volunteered at the Baby Home. Here she assisted as a care giver to children aged between two months and five years old. On returning back to the institute after the results were out, Agnes dedicated all her Fridays to her give back commitment. “I was posted at the Kenyatta National Hospital Orthopedic Ward children’s section,” she says. Here she got to help the nurses with secretarial and managerial work from May to November 2010.

Meanwhile, Deloitte was setting up the Masomo Mashinani Foundation, which she got to be part of from July 2011. “I volunteered every Thursday at the foundation’s offices in Baba Ndogo,” Agnes states. In December she volunteered at Kaionet Children’s Centre at Kesses in Eldoret. The home houses children from disadvantaged backgrounds, some who have been staying with very old parents. Agnes gave motivational talks to the children and interacted with them by giving talents and treasures.

She was also involved in Happy Life Children’s Home in Roysambu by the end of second year of university. She taught the children basic computer skills every Saturday from morning to mid-day. By the time she left the home in April 2013, the children aged between 4 and 9 years could use Microsoft word and do PowerPoint presentations.

Rural Reproductive Health Initiative (RRHI)

But it is Rural Reproductive Health Initiative (RRHI) that has stolen her heart for the past one year. RRHI is a student-led commitment made up of young people who create awareness on reproductive health amongst fellow youth and adolescents. The students are drawn from Moi University, Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi and Egerton University. The initiative has been targeting schools in Ruiru, Njoro and Stephjoy secondary school along Naivasha road.

So far, RRHI has directly impacted about 2,200 boys and girls in schools. “We are scaling up the programme so that we can deal with reproductive health issues amongst the youth via Facebook,” she states. While stating that there is a lot of work cut out for RRHI, Agnes explains that the group is looking forward to partnering with UNICEF so that the group can acquire more educational resources. “We want to double the impact by partnering with organisations that have a wider reach and the resources. With this we will definitely reach our goal of having a healthy sustainable community,” Agnes says.

The satisfaction that she is interacting with young people who are more informed in the society is what has kept Agnes in the group. “We are losing young people because they do not have information. The group is out to change this,” so she says. Giving back, Agnes says, has prepared her to set the ground for other girls to follow suit. “I am able to use my little resources to get an edge in front of other girls. It is never about material wealth, I can give in time, talent and treasure,” she adds.

Agnes says that her involvement in the GGBC programme has given her marketing and interpersonal communication skills. “I am able to express myself well in terms of where I want to take the programme, as well as how to network and sell the idea to corporate sponsors,” she cites. Her confidence is beyond and she has got the rare opportunity to meet and interact with some of the world’s mightiest – the likes of Belinda Gates and Michelle Obama in different settings. “These are people I had only seen in my dreams,” Agnes says.

The programme, she says has turned her life around. “It has built me to be who I am today. I now have more reason to be the change that the world needs,” she says. She has been able to use the power of her voice to impact others. “It is about what is in me. I am able to lead myself and other people excellently. There are many leadership opportunities out there for me,” she states with confidence. Agnes has tasted the trappings of power through student leadership. She serves at the Public Relations department at Moi University Eldoret campus, and she is the Secretary General of the Consortium of International and Professional Associations (CIPA) at Moi University.

Agnes was brought up in a small rural village in Mutomo in Kitui County. The lastborn in a family of two girls was left under the care of a grandmother after her parents passed on. Her father passed on in 1994 and her mother in 2001, when Agnes was in Standard Four. She went through hardships as her grandmother was too old to provide for all their basic needs. “Finances and food was a problem. I aspired to get a scholarship to join a secondary school and God created a way when I passed Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and got the opportunity to study at Starehe Girls Centre. “I would have dropped in Standard Eight,” she says.

Over the years she lacked a mother figure to talk to about growing up and the changes that come at puberty, and encouragement. And when she joined Starehe Girls Centre, Agnes could only dream of acquiring education up to Form Four. “I knew that my four years in school had been catered for. But I was still that naïve village girl uncertain of the future,” she states. But after 10 months of training at the institute in Starehe Girls’ Centre, she got to intern and later work with Deloitte, opening a new dawn for herself. “I am now transformed into a benefactor,” Agnes says.

She joined Moi University in Eldoret in July 2011 through a scholarship from the Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF). Her university education is fully paid for and she receives a grant every semester for her personal expenses. “It is like having everything on the table. This has motivated me to reach out to girls who may not be in GGBC but who can dream further in life,” Agnes comments. She singles out Phila, a 20 years old girl who is an orphan. She stays in Mombasa with her elder sister after she discontinued her studies in college due to lack of finances. Agnes has been talking to her about basic life skills, which she can apply to give herself a better platform in the future. “I have been advising her on various ways of conducting a successful small business once she acquires some start up capital,” Agnes shares.

Agnes has surely risen from poverty to prosperity, which is a key factor in determining the success of the GGBC programme. She is transforming into a benefactor as she has become empowered, selfless and capable - one of the objectives of GGBC. She is on a mentoring journey with Vivian, a Form One girl at the Kakenya Centre for Excellence in Kilgoris. “We have introduced ourselves and we do a lot of letters. I am looking forward to meeting with her very soon,” so she states. A lesson that she has learnt in all this is that the world is full of opportunities, “but these opportunities won’t knock at your door, you have to go out and look for them,” Agnes says.

She knows too well that it is her sole responsibility to shape her future in the world of possibilities. “It is about trying, having a positive attitude and never stopping. It is about never wanting to be where you were yesterday,” Agnes shares. Her future is not dependent on her background. “I need to choose what I want to be. I can now dream more and enable other people to dream,” so she says.

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