why I chose Kisumu (or how it chose me)

in march/april 2010, over our regular dinner of cocktails and chocolate at my friend Liz’s apartment in DC, I confessed to her that I was planning to quit my consulting job a little early and “do something for myself” before I went to business school in the fall.

some background: I was just recovering from a really tough year full of heartsickness (in the form of boy drama + GMAT torture) and therefore NEEDED a trip/experience/whatever that would help me take back my life and nurture my soul. thank you for understanding.

I mulled over all sorts of ideas (yoga certification training in Samoa? cross-country bike tour of the US? trekking through New Zealand?), but nothing was RIGHT. i didn’t just want to travel. i wanted this very special (read: debt-free) time to have a purpose. it needed to be something I accomplished all on my own, and had to have a very clear start and end (usually I function well in gray spaces but this was non-negotiable).

my rando brainstorm ended with something like “maybe I should volunteer somewhere? I love the gender work I’m doing at Booz, wish I could keep doing that…” (insert six pieces of Dove Dark Chocolate into my mouth)

and of course Liz, being the wealth of knowledge and genius that she is, mentioned the Value Girls project funded by the Nike Foundation. implemented by Cardno (formerly Emerging Markets Group), it has been already been heralded as super successful and incredibly innovative. the purpose of the project is to create value chains for girls in the poultry and vegetable markets so that they are no longer forced to work in the abusive fishing industry, where some must trade sex for access to fish.

… so, work with girls? increase their confidence through skills training? spend more time in Africa? um, hello ideal job for me. push me to learn more about the girl effect.

and this is when life again showed me how lucky a person (read: me) can be. in 2008, I happened to have spent some time in Uganda with a very cool person at Cardno, who thankfully sent my resume to the Value Girls Project Director, who actually thinks I can help. (let’s all cross fingers that I don’t disappoint.)

so now I’m living and working in Kisumu, Kenya, just taking it one day at a time. it does seem like it all happened so quickly and easily to be REAL. despite that feeling, it’s very real. like, every-morning-I-swab-down-with-a-mosquito-wipe-and-take-a-bicycle-taxi-to-work kinda real.

hopes are high.

pic: chez moi in Kisumu


One thought on “why I chose Kisumu (or how it chose me)

  1. Even though you are in the not- so- good – state of mind, you make a wise choice. Working with GIRLS to inspire you to become a better person. I’m so proud of you.

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