In December 2009, I had an opportunity to travel to Kenya for three weeks through a study abroad program for my Master of Science degree in International Public Service from DePaul University. When considering why I chose Kenya, I must be honest and say that it was because
I knew that it was only 6 hours away from my homeland, Tanzania and more importantly I will have an opportunity to visit my grandmother.
Never in a million years did I think that I would fall in love with Kenya. I visited several women cooperative organizations, but one organization, in particular, stirred up something inside of me; The Kibera Paper Project (KPP) is an organization that makes greeting cards using recycled materials. Meeting the women of Kibera Paper Project changed my life and confirmed the one thing I had always known, which was that in Africa with hope, determination and hard work it can be done. I ended my journey filled with both excitement and frustration because I was confused about the next step. While my trip to East Africa ended, my contribution towards the economic development in Africa was just beginning. As an African woman, I understand my responsibility towards it.
Early 2010, I began volunteering with KPP helping the organization sell their cards here in the United States. Within months of selling cards to family members and friends, I realized that my involvement needed a strategic plan. As a result, the formulation of ILAVA: It Can Be Done! came into existence.