At a recent event I attended in Atlanta, Usher Raymond & his New Look Foundation was honoring President Bill Clinton for his work with global youth through the Clinton Foundation, and Ciara, Usher & Justin Bieber performed. The night was star studded but the message was strong and clear – that Usher’s New Look Foundation was truly changing the lives of young men and women globally – by creating leadership programs for many youth who otherwise may not have an opportunity to grow in their communities.
It was however, one woman from Kenya, who took the stage and exemplified what is means to be a change agent on this planet today. Hital Muraj is a a true leader for advancing youth in Kenya. In her role as a Manager at Cisco East Africa, Hital Muraj is responsible for Cisco’s Education Initiative and Corporate Social Responsibility and Development across the East African region and North Africa.
Hital is also responsible for Cisco’s CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) commitment in Africa where she is working with non-profit organizations such as Inveneo, and Aga Khan Foundation on using the power of ICT (Information & Communication Technologies) to address basic human needs such as access to health care, education etc for sustainable development. However, her commitment to the advancement of women goes far beyond her corporate role. It is a personal calling.
I was honored when Hital agreed to speak with me via Cisco technology the following week (from Atlanta to Nairobi). As the interview details, she first began working with young men and women in the slums of Nairobi. I learned from Hital that the largest slum in Africa, with well over 1 million people living in a 20 sq. km area, is called Kibera. Beyond the job training she helps provide to these youth for Cisco corporation, she has expanded her role beyond her corporate expectations and into her own personal calling. This is a woman with a mission to create and effect change in the lives of as many young people in Kenya as possible.
Considering that over 70% of the country’s population are under the age of 35, it is critical that this community be advanced if there is to be a positive future. Hital understands that it is her mentorship with women, in particular, that will have the biggest impact in changing the face of the country. In our conversation, Hital shares with me the unique challenges in working with women (and men) in Kenya and how she hopes to live a life like Mother Theresa. During her description of the woman as a lioness, I had a very profound realization that perhaps the human race is the only species on earth that has learned to suppress the feminine. I would be curious to hear feedback on that topic after you all listen to the video on The Lioness. Thank you Hital for your strength and directed purpose.
VIDEO 1 – ON HER WORK WITH YOUTH
VIDEO 2 – ON HER WORK WITH WOMEN
VIDEO 3 – THE WOMAN AS A LIONESS
VIDEO 4 – ON MEN SUPPORTING WOMEN
Reprinted with permission of Ms. Muraj from Women Are Saving the World Now on 28 August 2010