“To be a leader one must be able to lead ahead and guide the rest,” United Generation’s (U-Gen) Nyanza Regional Co-coordinator Steve Ochieng told his team at U-Gen’s third regional workshop in Nyanza province of Western Kenya. “This is the reason you are here and not all the other young people out there.”
In a country where tribal and ethnic tensions run high and economic challenges particularly impact youth, Kenya’s United Generation (U-Gen) program has been inspiring young people to take action in building sustainable peace and becoming leaders and entrepreneurs. On June 25, 2013 the United Generation program, an initiative of Global Peace Youth Corps in partnership with the Global Peace Foundation which was founded by Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, brought 30 young leaders together for a four-day workshop focused on leadership skills and community improvement.
Participants were mentored on strategies to launch and scale up entrepreneurial ventures that would benefit their communities and also provide a source of income. Encouraged to think outside the box, the young leaders brainstormed on project ideas and developed project guides.
With many participants concerned about the environment, some suggested projects related to sanitation and garbage collection, as well one idea for building a borehole for safe drinking water. A plan for a peace and reconciliation project was also drafted, as the Nyanza Province was highly affected by the 2008 post-election violence.
“This was an experience like no other, but I’m glad we all got through the challenges. It was fun and tough as well.”
—participant Linet Makitu
The program also included a challenge of trekking through the Nyahera hills. “This is a capacity building exercise aimed at making the teams understand that no matter the challenges along the path of life they still had to fight on and not give up,” U-GEN chief operations officer Arthur Wesonga, told the young leaders. Though the teams had no paths to follow, they did not give up and eventually found their way back to base camp. “This was an experience like no other, but I’m glad we all got through the challenges. It was fun and tough as well,” participant Linet Makitu reflected after the adventure.
U-GEN will hold five more regional workshops in Kenya to empower youth to become leaders that bring effective positive change to their communities.
—Reported by Joey Marakis, an intern with GPF Kenya