By Audrey Korir
From being a young boy living in the slums of Kibera, Kenneth Odede’s story is that of hope, determination, hard work and passion. He reminds us that no matter what our circumstances are, they should never be a limiting factor to keep us from succeeding. As they say, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
This is his story……
Kenneth Odede never once thought that his dream as a teenager would ever turn into a 200 million award-winning cause.
Growing up in the slums made him realize that he belonged to a different world, a world that had made him embarrassed to say where he came from because he feared rejection. “I was afraid to tell people that I came from the slums. I would say, ‘‘I’m from Kenya, Nairobi.’ I was hiding who I was. I thought if I said I was from the slum they would all run away”.
The wounds of poverty would never heal until he finally learned that saying where he was from is what made him who he is.
With that sense of pride and self-awareness, he started the Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) an organization combating poverty and gender inequality in the slums. This initiative would see him go as far as gaining international recognition, making him a hero to all who learned of his story.
His organization based in Kibera bagged the biggest global award given to humanitarian causes, making them the first local NGO formed by a local person to get recognized by the Hilton Foundation.
The Annual Hilton Humanitarian Award is presented to a non-profit organization judged to have made exemplary and extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering
His great achievement was widely celebrated with the likes of the Late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore and Famous Actor Tony Goldwyn who took to their twitter to congratulate him and the organization.
Kennedy Odede, SHOFCO’s founder says that when he got the call from the foundation concerning the award he thought that it was a joke until they backed the confirmation via mail which was when he believed it all.
“I thought they were joking, it felt so unreal until they sent me an email to confirm that we were to receive the award after being nominated,” he said.
He attributes this dream to gaining inspiration from the likes of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Wangari Maathai and his own Mother whom he contributes to his advocacy for gender equality. (rewrite)
“SHOFCO was a dream that I had as a teenager growing up in Kibera. A lot of foreign people would come and start organizations to help the community but none would last, that is when I decided that it was time for someone in the locality (area sounds better placed) to start something that would benefit the people in my community and would feel completely owned by the community,” he said.
What are His Future Plans?
Kennedy Odede says that the prize money will continue to sustain their fundraising efforts so that the organization can remain financially stable for a long period.
” The money will go to an endowment fund so that it can continue generating income and also rally my supporters both locally and internationally to see how we can grow the money to ensure that SHOFCO will be self-sustainable and that even without me being there the organization will continue running,” he said.
“The win was not only SHOFCO’S but also a great honor for our country Kenya he also urged the government to integrate communities in informal settlements especially the youth in their Big Four Agenda.
“I want the government and stakeholders to engage the community and stop negatively viewing them. They should see them as a resource and work with them to come up with proper solutions to empower and improve their lives,” he said.
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In The End
Kenneth’s story teaches us that no matter what all dreams are valid, don’t let anyone deter you from achieving your goals.