Kenya/ AU backed candidate for the position of Secretary General at International Maritime Organisation IMO Ambassador Nancy Karigithu is kind enough to share with us a memory.
“In 2016, Dr. Alice Ochanda, a Program Specialist at UNESCO Nairobi, invited me to join a mentorship team for girls under the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Program. I jumped at the opportunity and thus became part of a dynamic group of ladies providing real-life role models and mentors in various unique science-based careers, women who have broken glass ceilings and attained firsts in careers previously reserved for the other gender. I stand in awe of them.
Every year since we spend a week in camp with students from different schools, and each time I mentor and coach, I am also enriched by interaction with fellow mentors and the students themselves, whose energy and enthusiasm are always so infectious. During the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, we were downcast to be missing in action, but even more at having to lose a year in the program until Dr. Alice came up with the best solution – each of us would record a message that would then be played on a national radio program in an interactive session. And so we did; for a few hours, we rode the national airwaves explaining and taking questions from a national audience of curious young minds all eager to learn as much as they could on different STEM-based career options as well as both the academic and soft skills they would need to cultivate to join and succeed in those careers. My chosen topic has, of course, always been career opportunities in the maritime sector. After hours of preparation, recording, retakes, and re-recording under the careful guidance of Dr Ochanda, my recording was aired to a very enthusiastic, happy audience. Only to later see my presentation repackaged into a single lie (story for another day), but then, public life is undoubtedly not for the faint-hearted.
I also realize how much I missed this year’s STEM Camp in Tumutumu Girls School with a camp audience drawn from 21 schools. Due to unavoidable circumstances (campaigns and all), I could not attend the occasion, but God works in mysterious ways. I want to sincerely thank Ms. Betty Murugi, ITF Ship Inspector for East Africa and WOMESA (Kenya) member, who kindly agreed to adjust her schedule and take my place, but even more gratifying, tag along her daughter Ilham Kendi, herself an alumnus of Tumutumu Girls school but most important now a second-year student in Ship Navigation at Oman Maritime University (and home on holiday) -a real-life peer mentor whom the girls could relate to and identify with. I understand the excitement was electrifying.
Thank you so much, Betty and Ilham, for this selfless gesture. To my fellow women mentors on this call, all the best wishes as you raise the next generation of courageous, self-assured, confident young ladies in STEM careers. Thanks to @UNESCO and the @EduMinKenya for this event’s excellent arrangements and hosting. Lastly, let me thank the vision carrier, Dr Alice Ochanda for bringing together this dynamic team to walk with the girls.”