A Youth Ambassador Steps Up to Lead by Example and Discovers Her Strengths
My name is Abigael Kima Kiprono. I am a passionate environmentalist with a drive to achieve a sustainable world for all. In February 2019, I became a MAPS Ambassador, a role that came so divinely. I was at a place in my life where I needed something to do. I learned about Parvati.org on Facebook through one of the MAPS ambassadors who introduced me to the team. I was a bit skeptical at first, but MAPS eventually became a part of me. I joined a group of amazing people who were equally as passionate as I was to protect and conserve our environment.
After I was trained, I picked it up quickly and started off with presentations in Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University, alongside Polly Owiti who is also a Kenyan MAPS Ambassador. We organized the first MAPS event in Kenya, in preparation for the United Nations Environmental Assembly, with my colleague Omesa Mokaya leading the team. It was a great time of bonding and of getting in touch with Nature. We have organized more events and reached out to more universities along the way.
We prepared to welcome Darcy Belanger, Parvati Foundation’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, in Nairobi for the United Nations Environment Assembly, UNEA-4, in March 2019. Tragically, he died aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on his way here. That time wasn’t easy for all of us working on MAPS. But it surely renewed and refreshed my commitment to MAPS. I was stirred from within to strive harder in order to achieve what Darcy had worked so hard for. He became the inspiration for everything I did. The first day at the UNEA-4 without him was particularly hard since I was new and there were a lot of expectations, but it was indeed a life-changing experience. The support we received from the team was immense and it brought us together. We became a family bonded by love.
A few weeks later I was given the role of the Africa Youth Lead for MAPS by Parvati. It was an honour to have been trusted with such a huge role. I wasn’t sure I would do it well, but I figured Parvati must have seen something unique in me and I was willing to take up the challenge. Handling the team in Kenya was easy, since we had formed a strong base of friendship from the first day we met. This made things run smoothly when it came to organizing events and making ourselves available whenever we were called upon. My role, however, required me to spread my wings even further and reach out to people and recruit new MAPS ambassadors within the African continent. I have learned a lot throughout this period.
During the process of outreach, I realized that you can only hope that someone would carry MAPS with as much seriousness and commitment as yourself, because then you can work in sync. Being a leader comes with responsibilities, and the most important is in leading by example, which inspires others to be up to task. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, which has made me resilient during tough times. I have gained good interpersonal skills as well as leadership. My brain has been prompted to come up with new ideas for effective engagement and outreach, which is a gift I only recently realized I have.
I have learned that we are all interconnected no matter where we come from. We all experience the same challenges in our own ways. The team at Parvati Foundation, especially Omesa and Alliance Coordinator Karen Ho, has been a great source of inspiration. Karen has made the environment conducive for us to share our day-to-day experiences and challenges, and taught us that it is okay to ask for help whenever we feel overwhelmed. We are a family that lifts each other up even in our most vulnerable state.
Growing the youth campaign has been interesting. Getting to meet new people and spreading positive energy is something I look forward to every time. We have done quite a bit with the youth portfolio, but there is definitely still room to do more and reach as many people as we can. MAPS is one action that can yield such great, positive impact to improve the quality of life for people all over the world. It works for the benefit of all; thus the need to bring everyone on board.
There are various lessons I have taken home. New strategies of youth engagement will be put in place in the coming months to ensure effective outreach. The youth are energetic and are a promise for a sustainable future if they are well informed. I look forward to a time when MAPS will be on everyone’s lips, once the world realizes that it is a step toward stability for all life on Earth in terms of food and water. Information is really important, so we need to reach out to as many people as possible. Lastly, there is hope: hope for a brighter future, hope for a better tomorrow. The youth are the future and their voices need to be heard louder and clearer.
I am MAPS.
Abigael Kima is a passionate environmentalist focused on making positive change toward creating a sustainable world for all. She finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science at Kenyatta University and is the Africa Youth Lead for MAPS at Parvati Foundation. Abigael also loves music and dance, and co-founded the Christian-based Jubal Band.