Special Correspondent for NBC’s Rock Center Chelsea Clinton traveled to Kenya to interview Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09. She traces their love story, which has led to founding Shining Hope for Communities, an organization that is changing lives with a tuition-free school for girls, a water tower and a health clinic.
“In 2007, as Jessica Posner prepared for her junior fall semester abroad in Nairobi, Kenya, one of her mentors at Wesleyan University suggested she reach out to Kennedy Odede. Jess’s mentor had recently heard Kennedy speak at the United Nations about the challenges of growing up in Kibera and how he was organizing theater performances throughout the slum to educate people about gender violence and HIV/AIDS. Kibera is one of the largest slums in Africa where approximately one million people live without roads, clean water, a sewage system or a single school or hospital. Jess’s mentor could not have known that suggesting Jess reach out to a man born in Kibera and committed to improving the lives of Kibera’s residents would change Jess’s life and countless others in the years to come.
“Shortly after Jess first arrived in Nairobi, by far the furthest she had ever been from her hometown of Denver, Colorado, she emailed Kennedy asking if she could come to Kibera, to see his theater group perform and maybe even work with him. Kennedy replied and asked for her resume. Wary of would-be slum tourists, Kennedy wanted to ensure, as he told me, that this newly-arrived American was, ‘serious’…”
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Image: via NBC Rock Center.
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