Eunice Akoth is my inspiration – and I hope after seeing her in this video she’ll become yours too.
She is my personal symbol for something I call my “Bigger than Me Why?”, that calling that transcends my own ego, financial status, personal growth and betterment.
She’s my reality check – a young girl with so much potential who has risen from absolutely nothing to stand up and share her story of hope confidently with the world alongside the likes of Angelina Jolie.
She shows me how in life we all need a mission bigger than ourselves to be fully expressed.
In 2009 I met Eunice on my first trip to Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya. Kibera is the largest urban slum in Africa. Needless to say I was shocked – nothing prepares you for poverty on that scale.
I went to Kibera to help a charity called Shining Hope for Communities, founded by a couple dedicated to hope, to create marketing materials to raise funds for their Kibera School for Girls.
Immediately a bright, sparky super-smart kindergartener caught my attention. That child was Eunice. I knew then that her passion and determination would take her places despite her tough beginnings being born into slum life. Six years later in 2015 at the 6th NY Times Women in the World Summit in New York, Eunice took to the stage captivating the audience with her emboldened speech encouraging all women to follow their dreams. She was in Grade 6!
For me and the My12for12 team, investing in girls is highly personal. It stems from the moment in the 80s when I was a kindergartener and saw a little girl just like me close to death in an advertisement for World Vision during the Ethiopian famine. It broke my little heart - I just couldn’t understand why every little girl didn’t have enough food to eat, access to quality education and a roof over her head. Mum and dad supported me to take immediate action and sponsor a girl just like Eunice and I agreed to do extra chores to repay them.
I believe we all need to connect our mission to something outside your own ego or betterment to truly get fully expressed in your life. I derive my meaning from running programs that facilitate ongoing investment in girls like Eunice and the other students of Kibera School for Girls.