Auma Obama is in town!
The German paper, Die Welt caught up with her at the Gut Clarenhof Golf course, where she is practising for an upcoming gala to raise funds for her foundation, ‘Sauti Kuu’.
Although she shyly confessed that her golfing skills need polishing, she has played golf for a worthy course in various galas in Kenya and abroad
The sociologist, who studied at the Heildberg University, left her job at CARE International, to start Sauti Kuu. She explained that her main reason for leaving the international NGO was her need to make an impact. “Most NGOs run their projects based on the amount of money they get, when the money runs out, the projects end. The goal is usually to meet the numbers and quick results and not necessarily to meet needs of the community they work in”, she says.
With Sauti Kuu, she works with the youth in Alego, where she encourages them to lift their voices and be heard. Dr. Obama says through sports the youth become active, strong and confident members of the community.
Sauti kuu which has an office in Munich raises funds for the youth and orphans in Kenya. The name of the foundation which translates to powerful voices, speaks of her vision for children and youth.
Currently, the foundation has embarked on the construction of a youth center, once completed it will cater for up to 1000 youths. The center which takes a model of the German Jugendzentrale, will be equipped with classrooms, hostels and sporting facilities.
It will offer vocational courses in mechanical, construction work and tailoring. Auma says that skills learned at the center are realistic and practical in the Kenyan setting.
Although she recognizes that in Kenyan culture, capable members of the extended family bear the financial burden of the family; she believes the youth should be encouraged to use their creative skills.
“Young people should not see themselves as poor, but should be encouraged to use what is locally available to make something out of their lives’’, Auma advices.
So far, 300 young people in Alego K’Ogelo are involved in Sauti kuu. Auma is quick to add that the foundation does not replace schools but instead gives a new lease of life to especially brilliant students from poor backgrounds that would otherwise miss out on such opportunities.
The courses are offered across genders, but women have shown a keen interest in Agriculture. She says, with training in Agri-business the women can grow food to sustain their family and sell the surplus. With this approach, more men are deemed to show interest in the endeavor.
She credits her drive to her grandmother Mama Sara Obama, whom she says has been instrumental in shaping her life. She makes a point to visit the 95 year old granny for valuable advice.
She also attributes Sauti Kuu’s accomplishments to the Obama name. She points out that the name comes with utmost responsibility. ‘’While my brother’s position has opened doors for me, I have to be diligent not to be seen as sailing on the Obama name’’, Auma quips.
Although her brother US president Barack Obama signed the Alego youth football team in 2012, he has not had time to join her in her work. However, she is hopeful that once her brother leaves office, they will get to work together to give back to the Kenyan community. Apart from that, Auma is eager to challenge her brother on the golf course, once she horns her golfing skills.