At +Acumen, our goal is to share tools that can help unleash the full potential of all the aspiring social change leaders in our community. Through our course Acumen Essentials I: Intro to Moral Imagination and Challenges in Poverty Alleviation, participants dig deep in developing their personal leadership skills and discover their own leadership styles through the lens of moral imagination – the humility to see the world as it is and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be. The challenges and activities make you think, question, discuss and debate what it means to lead positive change and build a world based on dignity. Rhoda, a past course participant from Kenya, shared her story from her Everyday Barriers assignment with +Acumen over the phone. This is her story:
For the assignment for Everyday Barriers I chose to spend time with a female security guard, Everlyn.
I thought that it would be interesting to learn this woman’s story because this job is usually male. I learned that she had lost her husband – she didn’t say how – and that she had to get a job to care and provide for her family of three children, and this was the only job that she could get.
Everlyn lived in Kibera, which was far from her new workplace, so she travelled far each morning to arrive for the morning shift.
She was given one uniform to wear, daily – and it was torn and worn. It also meant that she could not wash it, despite asking for a second so that she could alternate.
She had a chair, but it was broken and only had three legs, so she couldn’t sit comfortably.
She had no weapon for protection, or shelter from the weather, so even while I was sitting there, I caught a cold because it was quite cold out.
It wasn’t until after I got home and was writing about the experience for the assignment that I realized while I had sat and listened, I hadn’t really done anything to improve the life of this woman. I went to buy her a new chair, and sat with her again for another visit.
Everlyn was surprised and confused. She said that she never felt anyone was paying attention to her or thinking about her. She was surprised at the generosity of a stranger.
The course taught me to go out and not turn a blind eye to the pain in the world, as cynics typically do, and I considered myself a cynic. It really allowed me to see myself in a new light, and put hope where there was a lot of cynicism.
Everlyn embodies the true strength of a woman and I hope to have half her courage as I live out my life. I hope to be able to see more of the ‘invisible’ people of this world and not just pass them by. But more than that, I hope to be able to not only see but also have the courage to do.
I learned that a little can go a long way in the world, and you don’t have to be a big shot to do a lot. It’s about empathy, but even more I was inspired to action, to act on the empathy and to make a difference.
Registration for the next session of Acumen Essentials I: Intro to Moral Imagination and Challenges in Poverty Alleviation is open now. Don’t forget to register by February 16th.