I don’t normally buy Vogue, but today I was waiting endlessly for a subway to arrive and I finally broke down and bought a copy to pass the time. I was blown away by a story called “Learning Curve” about a young woman named Jessica Posner, who went to live in Nairobi for the fall semester of her senior year. She ended up living with Kennedy Odede, a young man from Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, the size of Central Park, in Kibera, where more than a million people live without proper roads, a sewage system, electriticy, police, hospitals or schools. Kennedy is a young social activist who created Shining Hope for Communities in Kibera, an organization to educate the residents of Kibera about AIDS, gender violence, sanitation and microfinance.
Kennedy eventually had to flee Kenya during a political uprising and he ended up getting a scholarship to Wesleyan University, where Jessica also studied. Together, amazingly — they were able to create a tuition free school for girls with 100 students, a 100,000 liter water tower that provides clean water to 2,000 households, a clinic that treats everything from typhoid to pneumonia, and offers pre-natal care, HIV testing and treatments. They’ve constructed public restrooms and sustainable gardens. Newman’s Own Foundation contributed $1,000,000 and they are now getting funds from other investors.
Jessica is only 25 years-old and Kennedy is 27. I am so inspired by what they have been able to accomplish so far and I can only imagine how much more they can do. If you can, read the story in the May 2012 issue of Vogue, page 112, “Learning Curve.” I will post a TED talk that Jessica’s going to do in June, I can’t wait to see it.