A few years ago I was struck by the poise and eloquence of an inspiring woman I met from Meru in Kenya, called Karambu Ringera. She was attending a workshop at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland and later joined the Centers Gathering hosted there in May 2012.
Karambu is the founder of International Peace Initiatives (IPI), a Kenya and U.S. based organization that provides Homes for orphans and vulnerable children, supports African grassroots organizations and community leaders, and provides trainings in peace education and conflict resolution. The IPI tools are education, enterprise and empowerment and we have long shared the vision of a Centers Gathering in Africa one day, bringing together many of the centers and people involved in transformational initiatives there.
One of the positive aspects of Facebook is being able to stay in touch with friends in far flung places and follow their latest news. I noticed recently that Karambu had posted about the New Generation Leadership Program and this immediately captured my attention. Offered in partnership with Mind Transform Africa, I was curious to learn more.
Karambu and I exchanged a few emails and she explained, “This program began in 2016. The program was a leadership action plan (LAP) from a year long leadership program I did with the McCain Institute for International Leadership from September 2015 to September 2016.” Part of the program required participants to create a leadership action plan (LAP) to intervene in a problem in one’s country. “The original LAP has changed,” said Karambu. “We are now using a more heart-centered approach rather than the mainstream way of training – we wish people to realise they are leaders (find the leader in them) and one has to lead oneself before they can lead others”.
I felt a resonance with the programs we offer in our various holistic centers; the Findhorn Foundation in particular emphasizes the practice of inner listening as one of the founding principles, and attuning to the wisdom within, the wisdom of the group, and the wisdom of spirit. I felt excited by the opportunity of linking up more deeply with a like minded center in Africa. As centers we are all grappling with the issue of diversity; a greater intergenerational, socio-economic and cultural mix, and the network at it’s most powerful is an interwoven web of unity and diversity.
Participants in the New Generation Leadership Program (NGL) come from all over the world. It was offered four times last year and now in it’s second year will be offered six times. Since it began in September 2016 there have been 145 graduates. I asked Karambu if there is an ongoing connection after the training. “Yes, we have a level two program and a continuing mentor/femtorship program for those wishing to become facilitators or team leaders (Organizers of the NGL programs).”
Karambu’s main focus is in Kenya and Africa, “This is where we wish to change the mind-set concerning who a leader is. We are, however, getting more and more requests to do it in USA – and we hope to do this when we get funding to be able to move to other parts of the world.”
IPI needs initial funding to get them up and running as fast as possible and a fundraising effort has been established online. The initial $10k goal is for the programs this year, as the first phase in a larger vision. “We hope to raise about $40,000 for a three year plan to be able to train facilitators as well as team leaders,” Karambu explains. As she and co-facilitator David are getting older they want to begin training of trainers programs immediately to ripple out as fast as possible. “My goal is to have spanned the whole of Kenya by the next three years and to have young leaders wishing to run for office in 2022 using a character/ethical leadership mind-set in Kenya”.
Centers Gathering feel inspired to support this vision through our Bursary Fund and we’re exploring ways to most effectively support individuals in the program and collaborate with IPI to bring more empowered leadership into the world. We aim to offer scholarships to a number of participants who have already indicated that they need financial assistance, and who are willing to share about their experience with us here online.
New Generation Leaders (NGL) are from all cultures and faiths. They are of all ages and are comprised of men, women and youth. They are from all educational and economic levels. “Though so totally diverse, they are united in their desire to become the kind of leaders the world needs,” Karambu says. “And to be honest, we can all be those leaders not only for ourselves, but for our families, communities, organizations, businesses and yes nations too”.
This beautifully follows the theme of our last Centers Gathering webinar, devoted to exploring leadership from different perspectives. Prior to the call, participants were invited to reflect on the following questions and then share their insights;
- Early influences – high profile leaders as well as people in everyday life that have inspired you along the way
- Power and responsibility – what are the personal edges in your current role
- Engagement and commitment – how can we as leaders empower others most effectively
During the call we spoke about the unique challenges within non-profits, the style of servant leadership, and the importance of authenticity and being true to ourselves. We discussed;
- Leadership beginning with ourselves – our values, influences and philosophy
- Leadership within our centers – different styles and how to nurture and develop emerging leaders
- Leadership programmes – offered in our centers to both participants and co-workers
- Leadership as a network – how we can step into our collective potential
It feels no coincidence that the opportunity to further explore this wide ranging theme should emerge just weeks later, in the form of the Centers Gathering International Peace Initiatives (CGIPI) Leadership Scholarship Fund. A creation in progress through our collaboration with Karambu and the NGL program, it also links in with the theme of our webinar this month – expanding diversity.
Our hope is that one young graduate will join us for the International Centers Gathering at Omega next year and that a multitude of people will eventually join the NGL facilitators and team leaders training program – becoming the future facilitators and leaders of today. We’ll share more news in the coming weeks. In the meantime if you wish to donate to the Bursary Fund please click here or follow the NGL Facebook page and hear from participants.
Our role as a network is to be a point of synthesis, to link centers, people, projects and initiatives together, to see where we can collaborate and help strengthen our collective vision of a more conscious, peaceful and united world. When Karambu joins us for the Centers Gathering in Hawaii this May it will be wonderful to hear firsthand how this project is making a difference.