Global Social: Kenya and East Africa

Global Washington, along with HUB Seattle, hosted its fourth Global Social this evening. The event, held monthly, brought together a diverse group of members, consultants, and individuals working in Kenya and East Africa.

Ellen Taussig, Executive Director of the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia, spoke briefly about ILAE’s newest schools and projects. ILAE was founded by two members of the Ethiopian diaspora here in Seattle; both men had a “passionate concern and connection to their home country,” and both wanted to find a way to deepen their commitment to democracy and development at home. Democracy, Taussig said, “depends on great leaders, and great leaders are formed by great education.” Giving young people access to the best education means that they will be able to transcend international and cultural borders and become world citizens.

Carolyn Anderman, Director of International Programs at One by One spoke movingly about the importance of obstetric fistula education, treatment, and prevention in western Kenya. Although obstetric fistula, which develops as a result of obstructed labor, results in many young women being socially ostracized and often destitute, it is treatable and preventable. Anderman estimates that between two and three million women live with fistula and there are between 50 and 100 thousand new cases each year. One by One’s program in Kenya, launched in September of 2011, works to eradicate this condition altogether. Additionally, One by One trains survivors and sends them into remote areas to find other fistula sufferers and grant them access to medical care. Fistula repair surgery costs $500, and each surgery allows women to reintegrate into society and re-start their lives.

Cynthia Breilh, World Vision’s national director for Women of Vision, gave a brief overview of the organization’s programming structure and listed some of World Vision’s programs in East Africa; the organization works in over 100 countries and supports a number of water, education, food security, and maternal and child health programs in East Africa, including, but not limited to, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Kenya. In Ethiopia, in particular, World Vision funds a fistula hospital in Addis Ababa and trains survivors in community organizing and advocacy. Breilh emphasized the importance of gender equality in all of World Vision’s programs; the organization pays close attention to the ways in which food aid, microloans, and resources are distributed to grantees and families, and works to ensure that women and girls are equal recipients.

Guests and attendees mingled after the presentations and discussed their own projects and priorities in East Africa over wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Global Washington’s next Global Social will be on Wednesday, September 11th, and will focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. We hope you can join us!