Going the extra mile help a soul in Nairobi

Today I received a compelling email from Nancy, who runs a program to help girls in Nairobi slums.

Life coices

I was thinking of telling you about an event we are hosting tomorrow – The Miss Mrembo Beauty Pageant / Football Tournament. This year we thought of taking it to another level with our Nitakomesha event. As my former Swahili student, you should translate this Marc.

(Nitakomesha means “to put an end to.”)


We are calling the whole community to put an end to defilement among adolescent girls.

We have invited 16 teams to participate in the procession which will mark the end of 16 days of activism against gender based violence. And as you know, December 10th is also world human rights day. 

Today we are giving out manila papers for participants to write their pledge in the fight against girls defilement. I am just about to write mine.

Parents too will be involved. We will stop at the local chief, who will address the participants. He will pledge on behalf of his office to also “komesha” (put an end) by ensuring defilers suspects are arrested.

The procession will end by both girls and boys playing football without a referee. We want them to learn how to work out differences with each other, and this approach leads to more discussion. VAP uses football to increase gender equality, social inclusion, build peace, and grow youth leaders. We can see the difference it makes.

Rape stories are still streaming in from our storytelling project. As an organization I feel we are obliged to do much more. We cannot read the stories again this year and afford to do less!

What Nancy doesn’t share often enough are the extreme measures she will go to in order to help people. She doesn’t seem to sleep. Recently, she sent us another 100 or so local stories (as images) to be transcribed into GlobalGiving’s storytelling collection. This collection has over 60,000 stories from 6 countries around the globe, and anyone can search for stories about anything at www.storylearning.org. Barbara our transcriber caught one alarming story and immediately forwarded it to Nancy:


URGENT: please call and intervene!

See the first link in Nancy’s latest batch, story number 46
Actively talking about committing suicide.  14 yo male
[storyteller’s phone number]
Less than an hour later, Nancy replied:
Wow I missed on this one. Oh my, I have tried the whole day calling the number and it is out of order. The boy comes from [neighborhood]. From the story form it seems this happened in [his town]. I assume the boy has some relatives in Majengo and when he visited them that is when the whole story took place.
This means a lot to me as an individual and as an organization. I want to talk to him. My basic counseling education may be handy. I shared the story to our staff and we felt helpless. We want to reach out to the boy but his number is out of order and the schools are closed.*:( sad
Barbara thank you for reading our stories and alerting us on this.
Thank you for trying so hard.
 It is our obligation to serve the community. Together, it is no longer a drop in the ocean.
Nancy I am impressed with the swiftness this was acted on.  From the suburbs of Salt Lake City, to our nation’s capitol, to Kenya, three people worked quickly to attempt to help a little boy who needed a hand.   Thank you both for your speed in action.  I’m proud to be called a colleague.  :0)

I will keep on trying to call the number in the hope I might find him. I could try tracing his exact location or his name by the assistance of the police and safaricom (our mobile phone company) but then I would have to disclose the reason for the trace. The explanation would lead to disclosing his HIV status (his reason for contemplating suicide) – which is unethical.
It is little stories like these of trying to help one person that keep me from leaving the nonprofit world. I’m sure there are other greener pastures where I could have a bigger influence, do more good, work more efficiently, or make more money, but I’ll never find people with bigger hearts and a tireless dedication to giving back.
These are my nominees for GlobalGiving “employee of the year.” They embody the credo on our wall:

Always on.

Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat.

Committed to WOW.

Never settle.

After introducing our story-centered learning concept to hundreds of others, Nancy’s organization is the only one that has kept doing it year after year. She could do less, but something pushes her to go the extra mile. And Barbara has transcribed thousands of stories in 2014 practically for free. She helps because these stories are peoples’ voices, and she wants to ensure that every voice is heard by people who can help. When dozens of other organizations found it tedious to convert a story on paper into a story in a database (where shared learning can occur), Barbara stepped in and made it happen.

Mrembo’s girls’ football club take gold at local tournament


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