The past month has felt like a whirlwind and I am happy to say that I have landed firmly on my feet in Kuria West, one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the privilege to live.  Taking over the blogosphere torch and that of Leadership program manager initially felt like a daunting task, but thanks to Thomas, the previous program manager, and the amazing Kenyan team, I am filled with a sense of affirmed passion and humility to carry on Nuru’s mission of ending extreme poverty in remote rural areas.

As Thomas said, my name is Jennifer and I hail from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I hold a BA from Michigan State University in English and African studies, and an MA from Indiana University in African Studies.  Having spent the last few years of my life studying, conducting research, and living in West Africa, I am extremely excited to join the Kenyan team here in Kuria to help create meaningful choices for the community, improve the quality of life, and work to eliminate extreme poverty in a locally owned and sustainable way.

From the moment I first met my team on a Skype call about five months ago, I felt incredibly lucky to be able to know this group of people.  Now that I am in Kenya, on any given day I hear comments from the other program managers, wondering why they are always hearing laughter coming from the leadership office.  Really, it’s just a typical day at the Regional Training Center, collaborating with a group of hard working people that love to smile, laugh, and make a joke about almost anything.

This team is one that gets things done, on time, even early, but still carves out a space to bond, share stories, and laugh with one another.  It’s a team that stays after working hours and is continually concerned with the well-being of others.  It is filled with exemplary servant leaders who will literally wait to be served food last in a crowd of over 120 people.  The leadership team will help pave the way forward for Nuru leaders as they take over programs, build a renewed sense of agency, and help others gain the problem solving abilities to navigate through tough challenges that will undoubtedly present themselves as Nuru continues to grow.  This team is one that I am proud to say I am now a part of.

Every day I am continually impressed with the initiative, attitude, and aptitude of the leadership staff.  In the short time I have been here, I have already had the opportunity to observe some of our recently hired staff improve and grow as facilitators and Nuru leaders.  Although I am certain that my rotation will not be without challenges, I am confident that in the coming year the leadership team will continue to make great strides as facilitators, writers of curriculum, and well-respected role models of servant leadership.  It is an incredible privilege to be able to work alongside the Kenyan staff with the common goal of ending extreme poverty in sustainable, holistic, and locally relevant ways.  I look forward to continuing to provide updates about the leadership team, our program, and life here at Nuru Kenya.  Until next month, enjoy this photograph of our three District Managers as they work hard on writing curriculum.