The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Mentorship’

WHY I WEPT ON MY 2015 BIRTHDAY

Courage.jpg

Courage is an Attitude

I had just come from Nairobi Garage where I had hosted an early-morning speed networking event for young Nairobi entrepreneurs. It was the very last event. I could not afford to produce another one. So I had a little cupcake and coffee party to thank my guests, and to encourage them to keep on with their good work. I went home.
 
With my handbag still on my shoulder, I sat on the couch, silent.
With a box of stationery still on my lap, I stared at the feedback forms inside.
Warm tears slowly slithered down my cheeks into the box.
Suddenly, a loud cry burst out of my mouth and echoed into the box.
 
I felt like such a big failure!
A failure to my company. A failure to myself. A failure to my parents who’d invested in my business. A failure to my supporters. A failure to my country.
 
After weeping, I sat on the couch for a while, trying to figure out my next steps. Normally, I would write an evaluation of the event and plan for the next one. Then send a message of thanks to guests, along with a networking tip.
 
But this time round, I had no idea what would be my next step.
I could not afford to pay back the loans from my parents because the banks I had visited didn’t offer loans to young unmarried ladies with small enterprises. I got to understand why there are so many microfinance banks for women in Kenya. Despite modernisation, most banks still see women as high-risk customers.
 
I could not reach out to my mentor because our relationship had been tarnished by his sexual advances. He had been in the process of supporting my application for a grant at an embassy, the accounting firm already set to receive the funds. But when he realised that I stand firm on my principles, he blocked the process and sent me this message: “I can’t be a mentor to a person like you. The people I mentor understand how we work. No wonder your startup is not working!”
 
So I put down the box of stationery, slipped off the couch onto the floor and removed my shoes.
I prayed. I wept. I prayed some more.
 
Exposed and vulnerable is what I felt as a human being. But I did not care at that point. If I were to be broken and all vulnerable, I would rather be so before my God who is also my friend. I asked Jesus to show me that all my effort had not been in vain. I asked for His guidance.
 
A wave of calmness came over me and I found the strength to smile. Suddenly, I noticed the chocolate cupcake that had remained from the party I had with my guests. I grabbed it, took a bite, and told myself: “Happy Birthday Michelle! All will be well.”
 
One birthday later, I am so grateful to have my prayers answered.
My parents chose to look over the loans I owed them, and invested in furthering my education in Social Innovation Management at the Amani Institute. So happy that I’ll be graduating this month. Yay!
 
I found the courage to take a few steps back on the idea I had had to focus on the core, which is positive conversations that inspire positive change. Now, I serve change leaders as a coach through a project that celebrates storytelling for leadership.
 
Despite not having surplus funds at the moment, I have never lacked. Opportunities are showing up along my journey. Not to mention the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to meet and learn from.
 
I’ve got a strong roof over my head, food to put on my table and clothes to keep me warm. Every day, I wake up to new opportunities to serve people by doing what I love.
 
The greatest lesson I have learnt is that…
Failure is a great teacher with an ugly face.
It takes courage to look past the ugly face and see a resource to learn from.
 
Courage is a key word this new year of my life.
 
My hope is that this little story of mine encourages you never to give up on you. And remember…
 
Courage, Prayer & Chocolate cake!
 
Happy Birthday to me
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Kenyan Boys need Mentoring on how to Handle Girls

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Today, I seriously scolded a boy after he slapped a girl just because she did not do what he asked.

I was furious and deeply disappointed! More so because I know that children borrow habits from adults around them. He had seen a grown man do the same and thought it was the best way to make his point to a girl.

In primary school, I saw young boys run after girls whose breasts and hips had started developing.
The girls were in serious pain after the boys carelessly squeezed and pinched their breasts.

Yes guys, boobs really really hurt when developing or during menstruation!

Clearly, neither did the teachers nor the parents teach the boys that a girl’s body is sensitive and should be treated with care and with respect.

At a young age, I saw the real face of rape as dozens of boys in school raced after a girl in my class so that they can all ‘play’ with her developing breasts, hips, vagina and bottom. At one time, one of the targeted girls fainted after she sought refuge in a school bus but forgot to lock the door.

I was disgusted and often faced threats by boys when the girls asked me to help them with reports since my curves had not developed hence not pausing a danger to myself. I was scared of all the threats from the boys. The teachers did little to stop the madness and I was forced to be silent.

But today, I had a voice and I could not remain quiet. I told the boy that he acted like a coward by hitting a girl, not once but twice. I taught him how he ought to treat a girl. I told him that violence has never solved anything. I told him that he needs to grow up and learn to use his brain to communicate and not his hand. I requested him to shut up and not try to give me any excuse for what he did and take responsibility.

The girl was so scared and I tried to comfort her.

When the guardian of the boy came, I was shocked to see just how oblivious he was of the seriousness of the situation.

Disgusted, I scolded the boy, suggested a punishment and frankly told the guardian to man-up and discipline the boy.

I walked away disappointed to see just how much boys are not being mentored to act like real men.

Please, teach a boy how to handle a girl!

Someone out there might do the same to your sister, mother or daughter.

#StopGenderViolence

Scars into Stars – A Lifestyle of Mentorship!

A Lifestyle of Mentorship

A Lifestyle of Mentorship

 

My failed businesses had a purpose after all! Recently, I learned the positive side to all of my failed business projects in the past.

My mother once looked at me as I cried, one failed business followed by another. I had done my research right. I had prepared a super business strategy; I had already contacted some business mentors. Yet still, my businesses did not pick up and failed in the end. I truly learned the art of trial and error with an extra baggage of frustration.

But today, my mother’s words, “My dear child, don’t worry, one day all these things will make sense.”

That ‘one day’ was today!

I met a young man on my way home who camped outside in the cold selling some warm snacks for passers-by. I was intrigued by his determination and the fact that he was the only vendor within vicinity who was actually standing up, waiting for customers. Other vendors had wrapped themselves in warm things as they curled themselves on their chairs waiting for clients.

I’ve got the blood of a marketer so I simply gave-in to the young man for his commendable appeal. What I had planned to be a one-stop trip to buy a roasted smokie with kachumbari led to a deep conversation about business.

He said that he never got the chance to finish school but he’s using what he’s got to earn a decent living. In the freezing cold weather he smiled with excitement over his small business and said that he would like to try out new products. Other vendors had taken up his idea and he needed to beat the competition.

As he spoke, I remembered all of my struggles; all the capital I had invested, burning the midnight oil doing research and coming up with a business strategy, prayers galore and making my family members guinea pigs for business experiments

I could not leave this young man without fueling his passion for his business.

And so I spoke, and asked him questions, provided him with examples and gave him ideas on how to expand his business. He was amazed that a stranger would take time to motivate him!

Well, at the time my business was failing flat on the floor… my friends had no idea about why I needed to make it work so bad, my mentors suddenly went A-WALL, my family honestly just needed a break.

Then I finally learned my lesson today: my business failed not because my attitude or plans were wrong. They simply failed because of that extra push to greatness that I lacked from someone who believed in me.

I know not if I’ll ever meet the young man again, but one thing is for sure – I made sure that by the time I left that young man, he didn’t have questions but ideas to put into action. After purchasing the snacks that he sold, I am glad that he was more determined than I had found him.

~Even if we suffer through challenges, the least we can do is carry the lessons we learn though it all and use them to inspire another person.

This is the true spirit of mentorship!

Yours Truly,
Ayuma.

Storymoja Hay Festival 2013 (19th - 22nd September)

Storymoja Hay Festival 2013 (19th – 22nd September)

 

UPCOMING HAY FESTIVAL!!!

The Storymoja Hay Festival is on September 19 – 22, 2013. Mark the Date. You will definitely leave the festival thinking in a whole new way! Imagine the World OR Waza Dunia

Follow Storymoja Hay Festival on Facebook and on @SMHayFest on Twitter for updates on tickets, travel & accomodation, guest authors, pre-fest events and event programming. see also our official website.

 

HISTORY OF STORY MOJA:

Storymoja Hay Festival is a collaboration between Kenyan publishers Storymoja and Hay Festival UK to create a platform for showcasing great literature, poetry and ideas in the country’s capital, Nairobi.
Out of the various editions organized by Hay Festival UK the Storymoja Hay Festival is the only one in Africa. It is arguably the biggest literary event in East and Central Africa. It is held annually in Nairobi and features internationally renowned creative minds.
Founded in 2008 The Storymoja Hay Festival is a four day celebration of our stories and our culture through storytelling, books, live discussion forums, workshops, debates, live performances, competitions, mchongoano and music.
The Storymoja Hay Festival has grown from 500 visitors the first year, to over 5000 attendees in 2012
We have enjoyed the support of over 50 partners over the last four years, including HIVOS, US Embassy, British Council, Dutch Embassy, National Museums of Kenya, Kenya ICT Board, Google, Alexander Forbes, Oxfam,

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