Elijah was the 2018 grand prize winner of $1,000 for this year's "I Have A Dream" Business Pitch Competition. He used his winnings to launch a summer program for at risk students with a focus on inspiring academic excellence among boys of color. His program will continue as an after school program. Elijah was also selected to travel to Columbia for two weeks over the summer! See more about his journey here.
Coming home after my first week-long trip to Kenya, I knew that spending my summer in Africa was something I was purposed to do. After traveling back with my mom early last year then again with both of my parents in December of 2017, that dream turned into a reality. In 2016, founded a nonprofit ballet program called Ngoma (en-go-ma) Kenya, in which I teach ballet to the children here. I am currently spending six weeks teaching special needs classes here at Happy Life Children’s Home based in Juja, Kenya.
After school on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays I teach ballet classes at 5. All the kids love the ballet classes and ask to do “ballerina” every day. I love teaching them ballet as they are such a joy to teach. My work as a "Girls Can Do Anything!" ambassador is so relevant because here girls aren’t taught leadership. In Kenya, there has been many years of male dominance. And there are very few organizations like One Village Alliance that teach that girls can do anything. Not many fight for the girl child here so I believe my role as a GCDA ambassador is important. I let them know that you can grow up to be doctors, lawyers, scientists and even professional dancers. I was excited to hear that a couple of the girls here want to be doctors when they grow up which is amazing!
I am going into my fourth week and to say that time is flying is an understatement. When I first started teaching my special education classes I started out with one little boy Zephan who is six. But the next day I was given seven students to work with ranging in ages 5-11. I am really enjoying working with this class and planning out our lessons for the day. I teach from 8-4:30 which is a very long, but fun day. I love that I have full control and able to decide what I want to do with the class. For example, we recently worked on the color blue. We went outside and found objects and different things that were the color blue which was very fun. And for the color yellow, I was able to get a few bananas for us to snack on after learning about the color.
After traveling to Kenya for the first time in 2016 my life has changed in a massive way, these past two years have been crazy, but crazy awesome! I love wearing my GCDA shirt and when OVA provided shirts for all the girls (and boys!) to get their own, they were so excited. We proudly wear it and more importantly, represent the knowledge that girls can do anything! I am loving this path that God has put me on and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me and my nonprofit!
Many thanks to United Healthcare, the City of Wilmington Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Playmakers Fatherhood Collaborative. As a result of your support along with every vendor, exhibitor, family and awesome dad who came out, our inaugural G.A.M.E Day: A Celebration of Fatherhood was a HUGE SUCCESS!!!
OVA YOUTH SPOTLIGHT: Sophia Andrews, "Girls Can Do Anything!" Ambassador
OVA YOUTH SPOTLIGHT: Elijah Jones, 2018 Raising Kings Business Pitch Winner