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Monday, February 24, 2014

The Musings of a Kenyan serving in the U S of A.

Part One
It’s been 45 days already since I left home to the land that has been long thought of flowing with milk and honey. I must admit that I am thoroughly enjoying what I came here to do which is another blog post altogether. Today however, I want to share some of the most interesting, surprising, funny and downright ridiculous experiences and culture shocks that yours truly has been dealing with thus far...
As a Kenyan of course it surprises me that “everyone” seems to be jogging. From DC to Portland this has been a common occurrence on my way to work, or on my way to church. Runners in droves seem not to be too bothered even by such horrid weather. I have honestly never seen such a phenomenal especially hailing from a country that prides itself with exceptional athletes. Not to give away the Kenyan formula for sweeping all the marathons, training well has lots to do with altitude...
I have recently take up the jogging bug  for the sole reason of burning calories which is something I have never thought of in my life until getting here. The food as interesting as it is, is extremely fatty, salty or sugary. Being the carnivore that I am, I am disappointed about the strange taste of every meat I have eaten. I have never cared much about portions and what is in a meal, but more and more I am finding myself reading the ingredients closer. The food frustration gets worse when I am offered cold food for lunch in the name of a sandwich. In Kenya that is considered a snack or an appetizer in anticipation of the real hot food! It is even more frustrating when I ask for chips and get crisps. Chips which is what many East Africans would also call French fries is considered a meal and comes in generous portions. I have bought laughable sizes of this here! I have found it very strange to be offered chips (I mean crisps) for lunch. From where am from this ‘chips’ are considered children’s snacks and I would be fired if I offered consultants in Nairobi this and dips for lunch!
I do love my coffee and tea and I still think that Kenyan coffee and tea is the best (I travel with my own supply) and so I understand the Starbucks craze. What I don’t get is the sticks!!!!Honestly how much more would it cost to get disposable spoons? I have found this interesting kitchen cutlery in virtually every office and coffee shop I have been to. Since I don’t want to jinx my day by stirring my hot beverage with this thing I know not its name, I now carry my own supply of disposable spoons in my lunch bag too!
I have found it very weird in reading the groceries papers or coupons to also find on sale a riffle! Am I the only one who has difficulty seeing the lack of market intelligence or the lack of correlation in purchasing tomatoes and guns? Other foodie things I can’t get over are the sink erector! And purchasing food on board a local airline! It leaves me wondering what the airfare covers exactly. Especially when it’s a seven hour local flight!
Flights, airlines and airports bring me to my next experience. Albeit an upsetting one, I like finding the hidden humour. Did I mention that the average time it took me from Nairobi to DC was about 18 hours? On arrival, it took me another two hours to clear though customs. The officer I met looked at me and said ‘you look tired madam-where was your last destination?’ I was too tired to talk and handed him my passport. Even before I spoke he immediately said-‘wrong line American passport holders only!’ I knew I was tired but the counter he was attending said VISITORS!!!! He then proceeded to reject five or six other travellers who like me had ‘no idea’ what the word VISITOR meant. Too tired to line up in a different queue I walked up to someone who looked like a supervisor and explained my predicament....long story short, the guy did not apologize to neither me nor the other passengers for making our wait longer than necessary and instead gave a funny announcement that his desk despite the visible sign will only handle a certain group of people! It made me wonder why the signs are there in the first place!
On a separate day in a different airport, I was speaking to an interesting traveller on various topical issues. She looked like she was well in her forty’s and asked me where I was from. Her expression on learning that I was born and educated in Kenya was quite strange and I should be offended! Her next question was ‘Oh my, where did you learn English from? You sound British? This statement on where I learnt the language of the Queen has been repeated on more than this occasion and I just want to say here and now ‘we are taught in English’!!!I learnt it in school like everyone else! As for the British ascent it must be historic. They once upon a time colonised my people and we pronounce and spell some words differently as a result, like colour or issue.
It has been very clear to me during my short stay here that most Americans have no idea on what is happening in the world outside their borders. It is shocking to me that in such a developed country I have to actively seek out international news to keep up to speed with the crisis in Syria or on the status of the recent peace accord in South Sudan. The most reported piece of news here in my opinion is the weather! With such limited or lack of diverse reporting it is not surprising when someone thinks all Africans speak Swahili or worse still when someone tries to convince me that Saudi Arabia is in Africa!! I am the one who should be asking where you learn geography from. Or what exactly do most people here have Google Maps for? Driving from within the same city ONLY?
Do stay tuned to for part two of my American shockers...

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Engaging Inspiring and Equipping
A New Generation of African Women Leaders
Application Deadline is Friday March 14, 2014
Moremi Initiative for Women's Leadership in Africa (Moremi Initiative) is pleased to announce its annual call for applications for the 2014 Moremi Leadership Empowerment and Development (MILEAD) Fellows Program.
The MILEAD Fellows Program is a long-term leadership development program designed to identify, develop and promote emerging young African Women leaders to attain and thrive in leadership in their community and Africa as a whole. The program targets dynamic young women interested in developing transformational leadership skills that help them address issues facing women and girls across communities in Africa. The MILEAD Program equips Fellows with the world class knowledge, skills, values and networks they need to succeed as 21st century women leaders. Applications are welcome from young African women between 19 – 25 years of age, living in Africa and the Diaspora.
The MILEAD Fellowship will be awarded to 25 outstanding young women who have exhibited leadership potential in their community, organization, and/or profession. To be eligible for the program, an applicant must be African, living on the continent or in the Diaspora; agree to participate in all required activities related to MILEAD – beginning with a three-week residential Summer Institute in Ghana; and commit to a community change project. Specific requirements of the program and related dates are outlined in the application package. Please review program and application guidelines carefully, before completing your application.
Please note that this one year program is not a full-time fellowship. Selected candidates may remain full time students or work full time for the program duration, except during the 3–week summer institute. The 3-week summer institute is an intensive and full-time residential program and all fellows will be required to attend. The rest of the program involves community-based, online and other distance activities.
 We invite you to share this application information with emerging African women leaders in your network who have the passion and potential to help transform the continent.
How to Apply: Applications are available online at www.moremiinitiative.org or by request via email. Download the full 2014 Application Package and Forms from the link http://www.moremiinitiative.org/milead-fellows/2014-application
Completed application forms must be submitted along with two recommendation letters and a CV. All applications and supporting documents must be submitted by email.
The deadline for completed MILEAD Fellows applications is Friday 14th March, 2014.
 For more information, visit: www.moremiinitiative.org or Join us on www.facebook.com/MoremiAfrica or contact the MILEAD Program Coordinator:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Call for Applications: The 2014 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards for female entrepreneurs

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards are an international business plan competition created in 2006 by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD business school to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs.

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award is looking for committed female entrepreneurs heading initiatives with the potential to grow significantly in the years to come. The selection of the finalists and laureates of the competition is done by an independent international Jury of entrepreneurs, investors, business executives and other profiles engaged in the support of female entrepreneurship.
The mission of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards is threefold:
·         To identify and support initial-phase women entrepreneurs through funding
and coaching
·         To foster the spirit of enterprise by celebrating role models in entrepreneurship
·         To create an international network of women entrepreneurs and encourage
peer networking
The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards aim to encourage the most vulnerable category of entrepreneurs in their most vulnerable phase: women entrepreneurs starting up. Since their inception in 2006, they have accompanied over 100 promising female business-owners and recognized 32 Laureates.
Eligibility Criteria
The project to be considered for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards must be an original for-profit business creation in the initial phase (1-3 years old) led by a woman.
·         The “for-profit” requirement: the business submitted for the Award must be designed to generate revenues. We do not accept non-profit project proposals.
·         The “originality” requirement: we want your project to be a new concept, conceived and imagined by the founder and her team and not a copy or subsidiary of an existing business.
·         The “initial phase” requirement: the project you submit should be in the first stages of its development with one year of operations and sales to account for but no older than 3-4 years. The ‘age’ of the company will not be measured solely on the basis of the date of incorporation. The development and size of the company will also be taken into account.
·         The main leadership position must be filled by a woman. A good command of English is required (both verbal and written) to take full advantage of the benefits the Award has to offer.
·         All entrants must be aged 18 or the age of legal majority in their respective countries or states of citizenship, whichever is older, on the day of the application deadline.
Evaluation Criteria
The Jury evaluates the projects based on criteria of creativity, sustainability (potential for growth) and impact.
·         The creativity criterion: the Jury looks at the degree of innovation shown by the overall business concept, the uniqueness of the project on the market or country where it is being developed.
·         The sustainability criterion: the Jury examines the financial impact of the business, its revenue model, development strategy and other aspects indicating its chances of long-term success and future growth.
·         The impact criterion: the Jury evaluates the effect of the business on society, in terms of jobs created or its effect on the immediate or broader environment.
·         The overall quality and clarity of the material presented: the Jury is looking for motivated and committed entrepreneurs who are passionate about their initiatives. Being clear and concise, organizing your ideas and not repeating yourself will show that you are serious about your application.
The annual competition involves two rounds:
Round 1 (in June): The Jury selects 18 Finalists*, the top three projects of each region (Latin America, North America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East & North Africa, Asia-Pacific), on the basis of their short business plans. They receive coaching from experienced businesspeople to move to the next round.
Round 2 (in October): The Finalists are invited to France for the final round of competition which includes submitting a detailed business plan and presenting their projects in front of the Jury. They are also invited to the Annual Global Meeting of the Women’s Forum.
Based on the quality of the plan and the persuasiveness of the verbal presentation, one Laureate for each of the six regions is selected and receives a unique and comprehensive support package: US $ 20 000 of funding, one year of coaching, networking opportunities and media exposure.
Application deadline: February 28, 2014 at 10am Paris time (CET)
Click here to apply! 
For more information,visit: Cartier Women’s Initiative


Are you looking to make a significant impact on the world by promoting tolerance and cooperation? Each year, Rotary funds some of the world’s most dedicated and brightest professionals to study at our Rotary Peace Centers. These fellows are committed to the advancement of peace, and often go on to serve as leaders in national governments, NGOs, the military, law enforcement, and international organizations such as the United Nations and World Bank.
Each year, Rotary selects individuals from around the world to receive fully funded academic fellowships at one of our peace centers. These fellowships cover tuition and fees, room and board, round-trip transportation, and all internship/field study expenses. Two types of peace fellowships are available.
We offer master’s degree fellowships at premier universities in fields related to peace and conflict resolution and prevention. Programs last 15­–24 months and require a practical internship of 2–3 months during the academic break. Each year we award up to 50 master’s fellowships from these institutions:
·         International Christian University, Japan
·         University of Bradford, UK
·         University of Queensland, Australia
·         Uppsala University, Sweden
For those with more extensive experience in peace-related fields, we offer a 3-month program in peace and conflict resolution at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. This program incorporates 2–3 weeks of field study. We award up to 50 certificates each year.

Katia is policy director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Brazil. "The tools and techniques I've learned—from a simple stakeholder analysis to the much more complex dynamics of international aid—are all applied on a daily basis to my job." Katia was a 2007-09 endowed fellow at the Rotary Peace Center at Duke/UNC.
We select fellows from around the world, based on their ability to have a significant, positive impact on the world. To be considered for a peace fellowship, we look for:
·         A strong commitment to international understanding and peace, demonstrated through professional and academic achievements and personal and community service
·         A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience (at a minimum) with strong academic achievement
·         Relevant work experience:
·         For master’s degree—3 years paid or unpaid
·         For professional development certificate—5 years and current full-time employment in a mid- to upper-level position
·         Proficiency in English for both fellowship types and in a second language for master’s degree
The following are not eligible for master’s degree fellowships. However, they may apply for the professional development program, but if selected, must pay for all costs associated with the program:
·         Active and honorary Rotarians
·         Employees of a Rotary club, Rotary district, Rotary International, or other Rotary entity
·         Spouses, lineal descendants (children or grandchildren by blood or legal adoption), spouses of lineal descendants, or ancestors (parents or grandparents by blood) of any living person in the categories above
·         Former Rotarians and their relatives as described above (within 36 months of resignation)
Additionally, fellows in the professional development program or participants in Rotary’s former Ambassadorial Scholarships program must wait at least three years before they can apply for the master’s degree fellowship.
Rotary Peace Fellows who have completed the master's degree program may not apply for the professional certificate program.
To apply for a peace fellowship, download the application, complete the applicant portion, and submit it to a Rotary club or district for endorsement. The deadline for submitting applications to Rotary International is 1 July, while the deadline for submitting to a local club can vary (generally March–June).
You can support the Rotary Peace Centers program with your gift. Help us raise $125 million by 2015 to build a permanent endowment for the program. Many naming opportunities are available.
·         Visit our Facebook page

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Call for Application: African Women Leadership Institute (AWLI) by AMwA and WACSI

Applicants must be from Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia
Application Deadline: Thursday February 6th, 2014.
The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in partnership with Akina Mama WA Afrika (AMwA) is pleased to invite applications from interested and qualified persons to a 5-day training on “Economic Justice for Women working in the Oil and Gas sector”.

The training which is specially designed for African women is scheduled to hold from March 31 - April 4, 2014 in Accra, Ghana with primary focus on "Economic Rights of Women", mainly in Oil and Gas sector. It also seeks to strengthen the capacities of African women to effectively influence related policies and build a regional network of women in the extractive industry in Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana.

AMwA will cover the costs towards accommodation, air travel and meals. We kindly request that you cater for your medical travel insurance as AMwA does not cover this.
Please find attached detailed Call for Application, Application form and other important documents. Completed application forms and MOU forms should be sent to the following email addresses:
To learn more and apply for the programme, please visit this link http://www.wacsi.org/en/site/newsroom/2368/Call-for-Application-African-...(AWLI)-by-AMwA-and-WACSI.htm