My decision to do the work that I do is based in fundamental beliefs of mine. Namely, that every human being is bestowed with a basic human dignity, and that if I can use the skills I have developed to make a legitimate difference in the lives of others, then my work and ultimately, my life will have been worthwhile. I’ve been committed to this belief since the end of my senior year of high school, and it’s something that has never wavered.
However, when working, it’s very easy to suffer from myopia. Rather than think about how this training session will potentially improve the lives of individuals or how research ahs the ability to sharpen my thinking with regard to how I can help, it’s very easy to focus on the short-term. “I need to review these comments and make changes” or “I need to get this research done so I can submit a summary to my boss” rather than a more holistic of what is to be done.
This shortsightedness disappears though whenever I have an extended chat with my boss, Kura. He comes from Northern Kenya, and is able to tell me very effectively why something matters, how it will make a difference in their lives. For instance, when he tells me that my starting businesses, women will have something that is theirs, and not their husband’s, for the very first time in their lives, it’s hard not to be emotional. It definitely re-instills my passion and belief in what I am doing.
The best piece of advice Kura gave me about heading up North was to make Northern Kenya my own. I shouldn’t follow the metaphoric path chopped down by the previous fellows, my co-workers, anyone else. I should use my own machete, and forge my own path to discovering what the challenges are, and what I can do to help. Hopefully, by the time you are reading this, I will have begun to chop away, and discover how I best can make a difference in the lives of the people with whom I work.