Dara Lipton

Dara Lipton (Vital Voices- Kenyan Association of Women Business Owners - KAWBO): Before her fellowship, Dara served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan and Suriname. In Uzbekistan she worked at a community health clinic. In Suriname she worked with a women’s group. Dara then returned to Suriname to train Peace Corps Volunteers. At the time of her fellowship Dara was pursuing her MA in International Relations with a concentration in sustainable development in Africa at Yale University. After her fellowship, Dara wrote: "This fellowship has helped me to understand many of the academic and theoretical concepts that I learned in school in a more realistic and practical setting. This has given me increased confidence and a level of comfort in development discussions that I didn’t previously have."

Farewell Kenya!

19 Aug

For some time now, I have been taking up travelling, and it has indeed been among the best decisions of my life. Travelling thought me that, while it is always helpful to catch up of camping tips from trusted websites like campingfunzone.com, nothing can explain the wonderful and memorable experience you will experience.

Unfortunately, the time to leave has arrived and this is the last blog that I will write in Kenya.  Needless to say this experience has been an interesting one; filled with adventures and misadventures, many conversations with incredible women, disputes, laughter and a whole lot of learning. 

I am eternally grateful to the women of KAWBO who welcomed me into their organization (and in a few cases their homes) to learn from them and support the extraordinary work that they do.  I have little doubt that the future holds wonderful things for KAWBO.  It will be successful because of its components; the people that make up the organization are extraordinary.  The full-time staff partnership of Hannah and Elizabeth, the powerful group of women that make up the board, and the diverse and successful membership all combine to ensure an exciting road ahead.

Although I have learned many things here, a few impressions stand out in my head the clearest:

1) The infrastructural limitations to economic growth for women exist in Kenya, but they are not unmoving—the “ceiling” is penetrable and the members of KAWBO have proven it, again and again.

2) There is a culture of entrepreneurship in Kenya and it is feeding the economy.  Low-income and high-income families alike are involved in micro-lending operations throughout the slums, cities and rural areas of Kenya—and they seem to be making a difference for individuals as well as communities.

3) The opportunities for young Kenyan women are many and they are diverse.  I’ve spoken with and gotten to know beauty pageant competitors as well as university scholarship recipients—they all have big dreams and a willingness to fight for them.

3) First impressions are not always accurate impressions.

4) Generosity is second nature to the Kenyan people.  Although I battled with allowing myself to accept it, when I finally did I was grateful.  I am inspired to give more and give with fewer expectations of receiving in return.

5) Whether from Kenya or South Africa, Norway or the Ivory Coast, sincere friendships are possible.  To those who went camping in the wilderness with me, drove me to the hospital at 4am, protected me from oncoming traffic, walked the beaches along the Indian Ocean by my side, or simply joined me for a cup of tea in a time of need, I am eternally grateful.

There are many more impressions to share, but for now I will end here.  Expect my last profile of Hannah Wangombe, the Hub Manager at KAWBO to be posted within 1 week.  Until then, be well, stay healthy and Kenya, thanks for everything.

a few of my favorite photos from Kenya:

Posted By Dara Lipton

Posted Aug 19th, 2010

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