From Africa to America With Love: Two Soul Sisters Stand Up For Children, Education & Better Lives for All

November 8th, 2014 by Bita Milanian - Leave a Comment

Today I am happy and honored to share a story about two women who reached across continents and two very different worlds to bring one vision to light.

Kwamboka Okari shelters, feeds, clothes, educates, and advocates for 230 orphans in Kisii, Kenya.

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Margaret Okari’s Sister, Kwamboka, with a future leader in Kisii, Kenya

Peg Campbell heads up the U.S. team on the Board of Directors for the Margaret Okari Children’s Foundation to raise funds for operational monies.

Together, these two powerhouses are providing future-ready lives for the children, giving them the care and guidance that will enable them to change their existence—and our world.

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Peg Campbell, blue scarf, with Kwamboka, friends and daughters in Kenya

Kwamboka’s name in Swahili means bridge. How telling; how subtly appropriate. It may as well mean grace and goodness and unconditional faith. The children at the Okari School could have no better role model and teacher. Her title is Executive Director of the school, but to the children, she is Auntie Kwamboka. What I have learned about her is that she emanates grace, a grace that belies the struggles that test her daily. This grace is born of perseverance and patience and in the belief that goodness isn’t just around the corner, but is on the doorstep at all times.

And on that doorstep, literally, on different trips to Kenya was Peg Campbell. Peg sees the world in larger concepts, the kind that speak of possibility and inclusion. She was struck by a Swahili saying that Kwamboka shared with her—and keeps it by her desk at work at Philips Healthcare as Sales Enablement Manager, North America. Peg draws inspiration from Kwamboka’s hand-written note that says: “Kidogo Kidogo Ujaza Kibaba/Little by Little We Fill the Cup.”

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Happy young gentlemen, housed, cared for and educated at Margaret Okari.

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Little by Little: two girls walking and rising at the Margaret Okari School.

The two women, who have come to refer to each other as “Soul Sister” truly share a special bond and have galvanized many efforts through the years that have kept the orphanage thriving. Fundraising efforts have built a new girls’ dormitory; brought large donations of shoes, school, and medical supplies; and the most recent one, through the diligence of the Andover, MA Rotary Club in concert with the Kisii Rotary Club, a well to provide clean water to the school, adjacent health clinic, and the rural village, among others. They will be hosting their annual fundraiser, Moonshine, in Andover, MA on November 8, and have compiled their first book of poetry, Little by Little, a compilation of cross-cultural poems shared by the children in Kenya and children from the U.S. and UK.

Peg, Kwamboka, and a small group of women will be traveling to NYC on November 19 to attend the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, celebrated at the United Nations. The group is particularly excited because Kwamboka is being named an advisor to the Women’s Entrepreneur Day team, and is being considered as the chairperson from Kenya in 2015. I’ll be posting live from the event which I encourage everybody to participate in, whether in NY or elsewhere around the world.

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Meet us at the first annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations November 19th or support wherever you may be.

Peg attributes the success of the school to the diligence of the many supporters through the years that have given of themselves—in either time, talent, or funding—to ensure that these children, who were orphaned when the AIDS pandemic hit their community—receive the educational equity that every child should have. Her philosophy of inclusion also extends to her sense of gratitude—recognizing that it takes a lot of littles to fill the cup.

Their story of success is an inspiration to us all, and more inspiring still are the children there who are growing into future leaders in Kenya, each one of them with the potential to in turn inspire so many others. And this is how love scales.

At the United Nations, Kwamboka Okari will be reunited with President Obama’s grandmother, Mama Sarah Obama, who recently established the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation, a moment I’ll cover in this blog in a few weeks. It is amazing what we can accomplish together.

Please support me in supporting www.margaretokari.org – learn how you can join in! And deepest thanks to Margaret, whose legacy endures, “sisters” Peg and Kwamboka, and their entire, tireless team for all the joy, inspiration, education, confidence and love they are bringing to so many children.

bsig

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