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Mark Laichena

Director, Girl Capital (Education and Livelihoods), CIFF

Bold Question: What if local leaders, accountable to communities had the funding and resources to make sure that none of Kenya's youth are left behind?

Pathway to Metis: Growing up in the diaspora and coming back regularly to visit Kenya, Mark remembers being struck by the unfairness of inequality – that peers and relatives with the same intelligence and aspirations were held back by limited school opportunities, barriers to healthcare, and social norms that didn’t protect them. In his own education, he was a beneficiary of scholarships and donor support which opened doors but didn’t fundamentally address that unfairness.

He moved back to Kenya eight years ago, after working in health in the US, trying to reduce barriers to care, and pursued similar goals in Kenya, working on community health, cash transfers to households, and now on SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights) access and girls education to ensure girls have choice and power over their future. 

Over time, Mark has come to recognize the importance of engaging communities, not just individuals, and seeing how different sectors are interconnected. While running a livelihoods cash grants program in Mathare, he was taken aback by a young man who insisted on addressing police brutality and the daily indignities he faced that money alone couldn’t solve. Similarly in education, what children experience in school is linked to home, to their safety in communities, to bodily autonomy, to social norms about who and what they can become in the future. 

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