A First Person Fight for the Millenium Development Goals

By Teddy Warria 02-24-2009

I am the tenth of 17 children from a polygamous East African family. I hail from the village of Kamnwa in western Kenya, near the shores of Lake Victoria, and grew up in Nairobi City. I attended the elite Lenana School (formerly Duke of York School) where my spiritual formation took hold in the school's Anglican Church tradition run chapel. While at Lenana School, I was an active member of the school chapel, first because it was a safe haven from bullies, than out of habit of a faithful Christian walk. While there, I was most fortunate to have two older boys, Simon Njoe and Charles Mirikau give us Bible studies and help us memorize numerous Bible verses. These hidden words became a treasure in times of family tragedy after losing my devoted dad at an early age, which was to be the first of many personal losses to follow.

After the loss of my dad 12 years ago, I began experiencing firsthand the financial and societal hardships single parent families encounter. My dad was our sole bread-winner, and his passing both interrupted our schooling and lifestyle. At these moments, my beloved mum would pray ceaselessly to God to protect, provide, and guide her children. The more she prayed the more I worked hard smiling. Regrettably, she passed away six years ago from a preventable and treatable disease in a region plagued by the burden of malaria and other neglected tropical diseases in a very poorly functioning public health system. I experienced this burden at a personal level after losing six family members and succumbing to a serious case of malaria myself. It is for these reasons that I created New Horizons Initiative whose vision is to empower, inspire, and enrich Kenyans, and to optimize their capacity to serve humanity through achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

In order for partnerships to function smoothly in a globalized world, it's integral that we not only understand the cultures and histories of our cross-continental ancestors and neighbors, but encourage development on their behalf. It is through this collective fashion that we may rejoice in their success and build partnerships that aim at achieving human development. In order to do this I am helping create Common Vocabulary: Shared Understanding for Global Health with the collaboration of Drs. Jeffrey and Sonia Sachs and The Earth Institute at Columbia University. This project will create the language and tools to mobilize global citizens to end extreme poverty and environmental degradation. It will help people, especially students, begin to make sense of how interconnected our world systems are and help everyone begin to take responsibility. It includes a layperson's guidebook to global health and workshops to deliver these ideas to students and community leaders.

In April, I will attend The Mobilization to End Poverty. I look forward to hearing Dr. Jeffrey Sachs share with attendees about how we can work collectively to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Teddy Warria is founder of the New Horizons Initiative, Inc. and Common Vocabulary project. He is the recipient of the Community Leaders Scholarship at The Mobilization to End Poverty.

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