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."

New Beginnings

14 Jun

I apologize for cramming 2 separate entries into one blog, there is simply too much going on in this first week and I wanted to make sure to share as much as possible.  Enjoy!


I arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Friday morning, exhausted after my 2-day journey from New York and incredibly excited to begin this adventure in Nairobi. I will be working with the Kenyan Association of Women Business Owners while I’m here, and I am already quite convinced that they will be extraordinarily hospitable and welcoming hosts during my 2 ½ month stay.

I was met at the airport by Taiyana, a member of KAWBO who was generous enough to answer the slew of questions that I had in our taxi ride over to what would be my residence during my stay here.  She told me all about Vice President Biden’s recent trip to Nairobi and the incredible traffic jams that it caused as well as her familiarity with Yale, my present University, thanks to her love of Gilmore Girls.  She dropped me off at the home of Njambi, a board member of KAWBO who, concerned about the safety and quality of the hostels that my meager budget would allow for, has agreed to let me stay in her home for the summer.  I am incredibly grateful to her.  If I even attempted to properly express the generosity and kindness of this woman I would not do her justice.  As someone who has lived with homestay families in 3 different countries (Italy, Uzbekistan and Suriname) I knew immediately upon meeting her that Njambi would be an amazing host.  And she is.

Planning for my 2 ½ month work plan and potluck contributions begin…

Yesterday I had my first meeting with the KAWBO board, an incredibly inspiring and committed group of women who are eager to make use of my 10 weeks here.  My responsibilities consist of administering a baseline survey of current KAWBO members; intended to assess their needs, challenges and expectations as businesswomen in Nairobi.  I will also have the opportunity to profile a few of these women; sharing their stories via film, photography and interviews through this blog, the newsletter of the African Business Women’s Network and their own website.  It was clear from our meeting yesterday that I will also be supporting KAWBO’s overall advocacy goals; helping them to establish a long-term plan to increase their national exposure and broaden their membership.

Our very professional discussion of the work plan and long-term goals was spotted with discussion of Nairobi nightlife, politics and a potential potluck that the board and I will have soon.  I’ve promised to make a “traditional American dish”, which is more likely to be my Eastern European Jewish contribution of mandelbrodt or haroset.  Thankfully, my Passover Seder staples will come to some use.  The ladies of KAWBO are eager to try them out.

I went food shopping with Njambi and we went into this amazingly crowded and fragrant shop filled with spices. The man in the photo (all you see is his hand) is presently filling that small paper bag with freshly ground ginger. It smelled amazing!

Posted By Dara Lipton

Posted Jun 14th, 2010


  • Christine Marie Carlson

    June 14, 2010


    Seder in Nairobi! I would love to see that. AFRICA! Rock it lady! I know you will.

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