Monday, February 19, 2007


Although I have now been in Lebanon four days, I will finish with events in Kenya before proceeding to keep the stories mostly chronological.

My last two days in Kenya we spoke at two of the best high schools in Kenya. During my talks I asked the students, if they could speak to the ambassadors at the United Nations to request focus on certain areas what would they ask for to improve the world for the youth? The students listed a number of areas: education, job availability, good governance, healthcare, opportunities for children to develop their talents, opportunities for travel, end to racism, end to conflict, and other areas. When I then mentioned what the youth had focused on back in 1999 for the founding of the UN they all gasped, they couldn't believe it, they looked at each other in shock, discussed it amongst themselves, stared at me in disbelief. Finally after two or three minutes I was able to regain their attention and move forward to discuss the WYA. They were so excited about the WYA, right away they all signed up made plans to begin a WYA club at their school with the full approval of the faculty. They also asked us if we would allow them to help us with marketing and fundraising. Of course we would, they were so excited to learn that while learning about human dignity they could actively promote it also, I think the WYA in Kenya has an excellent future if these students remain committed and take their ideas to fruition.

On Valentine's Day Mr. Beauttah invited us to attend a fundraiser at Mamba Village where he works for an organisation which works to empower women and young girls through education, skills training and microfinancing. I sat at the head table with Ann Seabright, the Vice President of Kenya, the Director of the organisation, and the owners of Mamba Village. They were all quite excited to learn about the WYA and the VP of Kenya is now a friend of the WYA! He seems to be a great man and really understood the purpose of the WYA and fully supports it. Mrs. Muturu - the wife of the owner of Mamba Village, was seated to my left and she engaged me with questions about the WYA. Finally she just loved it and stated that "if young people respected their own dignity and the dignity of others, we wouldn't have problems with conflict, with corruption, with starvation, with abuse of women, with pornography." She got so excited, she introduced me to her adult children who were there and told them all about the WYA. She so fully understood all the implications of persons living their dignity.

Mr. Beauttah mc'd the ocassion. He introduced the Director of the Kianda foundation, who spoke a few words. Then, without any prior warning he introduced me and asked me to speak! I had no desire to speak at a fundraiser for another organisation, in front of the VP of Kenya and without preparation. I breathed deeply and pretended as though this happened all the time, stood up and spoke briefly about the WYA. I was grateful I'd previously been speaking with the director of Kianda foundation about how our work overlapped through the understanding of dignity and its applications for the women they work with, so I was able to mention that in my remarks. There was a male singing group and a famous Kenyan singer there that evening, so once the dinner was over and the VP left we relaxed and danced.

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