|By Faith Katumbi|
Celebrating two decades of unwavering dedication, transformative moments, and boundless compassion, we embark on a heartfelt journey through the testimonials of those whose lives have been transformed by our remarkable Community Outreach Program (COP). From humble beginnings to a powerful force of positive change, we reflect on the countless lives touched and the resilience of our community as we reach this momentous milestone.
This story dates back to 2016 at the Strathmore University (SU) Auditorium, where Janet Kore discovered her calling amid a chaotic world that craved compassion and positive change. Though she joined Strathmore to pursue a degree in International Studies, she found a true home in COP. The Program’s profound values and mission deeply resonated with her, capturing her heart and igniting her passion for making a difference in the world. As a first-year student, she was inspired by the stories of senior members and the impactful projects the COP had undertaken in the past.
Janet’s COP journey began with a visit to Familia Moja in Mangu, where she found more than just a project to support – she found a family. Overwhelmed by their love and joy, she looked forward to each encounter with them, realizing that even the smallest gestures could positively impact someone’s life. The joy of giving enveloped her as she ventured into prisons, children’s homes, and mentoring work camps, inspiring her to dream bigger – a dream to be a beacon of hope for those without and a light in the darkest of nights.
Participating in a work camp in Kitui as a mentor left a deep impression on Janet. The experience imparted essential life lessons about resilience, empathy, and embracing diversity, fostering a newfound sense of compassion and comprehension towards the challenges confronted by underprivileged communities. The compelling stories shared by the children she interacted with further fueled her determination to create a lasting and positive impact on society.
The Program has been instrumental in shaping Janet into the person she is today, filling her with courage and confidence. Reflecting on her transformation, she shares, “When I first joined the program, I was incredibly shy. I couldn’t even speak up during our weekly meetings with my colleagues. But now, I am amazed at how far I’ve come – I have grown into a mentor and a partner at a community-based organization.”
On every journey, one is bound to encounter potholes, and in the realm of mentorship, trust stands as a delicate yet essential foundation. For Janet, establishing and nurturing this trust with her mentees posed a considerable challenge. However, her dedication, patience, and adoption of the right approach allowed her to break down barriers and effectively address even the most sensitive issues. Through her mentorship role, Janet not only empowered her mentees but also became a source of inspiration, encouraging more individuals to get involved in making a positive impact on underprivileged communities.
Her experiences during the work camps played a pivotal role in shaping her mentorship approach. The resilience, empathy, and diversity she witnessed among the children left a lasting impression on her. She learned that mentorship involved listening, understanding, and creating a safe space for the mentees to express themselves.
Having witnessed the challenges endured by various communities, Janet developed a profound sense of gratitude. Motivated by her experiences and a common vision shared with her friends, she played a pivotal role in co-founding the Cherished Smiles Organization. Established in 2020 and officially registered in 2021, this non-profit organization is dedicated to making the world a better place by giving back to the community. It is committed to pursuing initiatives that create a positive and productive impact on society by spreading love and putting smiles on people’s faces. Their vision is to empower the youth to become responsible individuals in society, guided by core values such as respect, integrity, responsibility, and equality.
The organization is actively involved in mentoring, providing healthcare, and participating in environmental conservation efforts. Over time, they have initiated various projects, starting from Wings of Hope Rescue to the Kibera Pride Children’s Home and the Angel Center in Dagoretti. Currently, their focus is on monitoring and supporting pupils from grade 4 to grade 8 at St. Martin Primary School in Mashimoni, Kibera. Mentors from the organization visit the school every term to empower, encourage, listen, and offer advice to the students.
Janet Kore’s story is a shining example of the ripple effect of determination and support. As we celebrate COP’s 20th anniversary, she stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us that through volunteerism and compassion, we have the power to create positive change in our communities and beyond. Let her journey inspire us all to embrace the spirit of giving and step forward with compassion, for it is through such acts that we can truly change the world, one cherished smile at a time. Together, we will continue to build a brighter future for generations to come.