Category Archives: Africa

AFRICA CLICKS The Adventure Continues

Time is overdue for an update on Suzanne and Mike and their adventure in Africa and the launch of Wisdom Exchange TV.  My previous two posts on AFRICA CLICKS occurred at the beginning of their adventures in May when they were just launching.  Since then a number of interviews and presentations have been completed and can be viewed through their site.  
Suzanne and Mike gave up home and possessions to embark on this exciting year long Mission in Africa, a continent that Suzanne fell in love with during her years of travel there.  They are living their dream with long days of giving and learning.  
In July their Ignite Excellence Foundation gave out three scholarships!

Dear Chris

As a friend, family member, colleague, or supporter, I wanted to share very exciting news I received today.

I am very proud to announce that Wisdom Exchange TV (www.wisdomExchangeTv.com) is now is being viewed in 30 countries and on 6 continents. We may have a challenge getting viewers on the 7th 🙂 We launched in May 2011 with our first interview. This demonstrates the power and influence of the African Women leaders and their ability to effectively communicate Leadership Lessons, Words of Wisdom, Leadership Legacies and Edgeness Insights. These are the women that are the Change Agents of Africa. Read, view, or listen to their perspectives and leadership strategies. We all can gain insight in HOW TO be more effective leaders and receive another perspective into Africa, its culture, its people and its opportunities.

Thank you so much for your support! Please pass to friends and colleagues. We have two episodes a month. Subscribe FREE so you don’t miss an episode. (top right of home page)

My husband, Mike Gingerich, and I are off to Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia on August 20, 2011 to interview more incredible women leaders for Wisdom Exchange TV. If you have any interview recommendations please email us at info@wisdomexchangetv.com

The Wisdom Exchange TV is a resource to help African women to learn, lead and succeed in life, business, and community. It is a forum where women of all disciplines will be inspired from the achievements of African women in business, education, philanthropy and politics. These are the women that are the Change Agents of Africa’s companies, communities, countries and continent. They will inspire us to stretch our vision of what we can do, and what WE can be. New interviews and Expert Perspective blogs will be updated regularly with the insights of the women leaders of today for tomorrow.

Thank you for encouraging other to subscribe and for your continued support. Together we can impact the African leaders of tomorrow.

 

Suzanne F. Stevens 
Chief Edge Optimizer 

Ignite Excellence Inc. Group of Initiatives
Suzanne F Stevens – Keynotes & Coaching 
Wisdom Exchange TV – African Women Leadership web enabled program 
Ignite Excellence Foundation – Investing, developing & inspiring women in developing countries (We handed out 3 scholarships this week!) 
Ignite Excellence Inc. – Influential communication sales & leadership development company 
You Me & We – Join us on our Adventure travels through Africa 
African Business Women Connected Summit – International trade summit in Ethiopia April 2013 – unique sponsorship opportunities available

Follow us while we push the edge to our personal & profession potential 
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AFRICA CLICKS Suzanne Stevens Guest Blog

As you know from my previous guest posts, Susanne and Michael are a couple who have taken a year out of their lives to follow a dream.   Mike is my nephew.  As they post on their own website suzannefstevens.com I will post their experiences here.  Enjoy!

Sandwiched Between Creating Possibilities

by Suzanne F. Stevens on April 24, 2011

Filed in: Suzanne’s Perspective

 

Leah Ngini & Suzanne F StevensLeah Ngini & Suzanne F Stevens in Maasia Courtyard at St. Christopher’s School

Often when people think of the Sub-Sahara, they conjure up images of starving children, slums, and corruption. Although these images are real, in many places they only tell part of a story. The story they tell is the part of a society that is broken. That is not the complete story of Africa. Africa’s story is also found in communities where families insist on educating boys and girls. Its story is found when parents ensure they educate themselves on nutrition. Its story is found where parents try to provide their children with the best opportunities for education, and it is found where a woman finds a man that supports her and her dreams.

To hear this story, you would need to know a woman such as Leah Ngini, Executive Director of St. Christopher’s School, and namesake of the newly developing Leah Ngini Community Centre at Africa International University, in Nairobi, Kenya.  Leah’s spirit is contagious. Her purpose is focused, and her vision is realized. This is the third time I have been to Kenya and on my last two visits I had the pleasure of visiting a couple slums and orphanages. I always left with a hole in my heart not because the kids were so bad off, but because in spite of their circumstances they smiled and played and welcomed you with open arms. While I visited St. Christopher’s my experience was completely different. First, there were no kids, due to spring holidays. Secondly, this was a school that would be envied in the West. They thought of everything when they built this place from small toilets for the little ones, to themed rooms, to Maasai (semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania)and Eco-themed courtyards. It was a place to admire. The school was just finished in January 2011 after Leah had the opportunity to buy more land and extend it to include younger ages. She now educates kids from pre-school to Fourth Form.

I had the pleasure of listening to Leah speak in November in Toronto, Canada at a conference I was producing hosted by my foundation, Ignite Excellence, to raise funds for women leaders in Africa. To hear Leah speak of where she came from was truly inspiring. She was a storyteller that drew you in with every word. Leah is the third child of ten and is now in her sixties. At the time when Leah was born, it was not common for a mother to have ten children and for all of them to survive. When I met her mother, however, it was not hard to see, even at ninety-one, where Leah received her spirit and determination. Her mother ensured that her children were well-nourished and educated no matter what the cost.

I think if I asked Leah why she has been so successful, she would first credit her mother, for her dedication and fortitude. I think she would then speak of her late husband and of his commitment to her and their children. Then perhaps speak of her daughters and their insight and drive to keep their mother’s vision alive while ensuring the school operates at the highest standard.

Leah speaks of her husband with such fond memories and a glow in her eye when she admits that the school was her dream, but building it and expanding on it was realized only with his support.

Leah Ngini tells the story of the education, the obstacles, the opportunities and the possibilities she has experienced. She is part of a legacy of women who were committed to education.  Her grandmother ran away from her village so that she could go to school at a time when girls were not considered worth educating. Her mother made sure that Leah was able to go to school.  But even then, girls just went to school if they had nothing else to do, so it was no surprise that Leah became a teacher so that she could influence the next generation.

Leah seems to be a woman who was sandwiched between all that was good. The determination of a grandmother, the insight of a mother, the support of a husband and the pride of her children. Leah has a family business that focuses on educating the future children of Kenya. Leah would admit that she has a special place for education particularly amongst girls. Leah started a school where girls and boys studied together, and saw from the beginning that girls could do just as well as the boys, or better, and they did.  Today, St. Christopher Schools are visible around Nairobi, and their reputation for excellence is well known.

Daughters educated in law and accounting have proven to be quite an asset in the running of the family business. In meeting them both, you can see their spirit, insight and determination, and perhaps the most visible trait is their pride in their mother and their grandmother for being women that had a voice and an opinion and made sure people heard them.

This is the Africa I am coming to know: the one filled with possibilities and leaders that have a voice, and seem to use it with authority and grace.

Leah Ngini will be interview on wisdomexchangetv.com in July.  Leah’s interview will be located under business & education. She will tells a bit of her story, but more importantly the lessons she learned and the leadership lessons she suggests.

Visit www.wisdomexchangetv.com to hear women inspire us to stretch our vision of what we can do, and what WE can be. New interviews and Expert Perspective blogs will be updated regularly with the insights of the African women leaders of today for tomorrow.

Suzanne F Stevens
Chief Edge Optimizer
http://www.suzannefstevens.com
Nairobi, Kenya

 

 

AFRICA Clicks…Beginning..Suzanne’s Guest Blog

I am often asked the question, why Africa? Sometimes I would like to respond by saying, why do you love your spouse? The truth is sometimes you don’t know why, you just do. It is they way it is. You feel a pull to a person or a place and the ‘Why’ really doesn’t matter, it just is. 

I do however have a why. We hear so often the problems with Africa, and how ‘we’ can fix it. “There is so much poverty and corruption.” “AIDS is an epidemic worse in Africa then anywhere else.” “We need to help them.” 

When I am in Africa, although I see poverty and I have toured areas were starvation is definitely mission critical, I see something very different. I see happiness, contentment and giving. I have always said, “There is nothing that can warm my heart more than an African smile.” The children will often run up to you hold your hand, touch you, and welcome you. They run to you not away. When you visit a community or school you are greeted with song and celebration. When you go to a person’s home, they welcome you to their palace, even if it is a one room tin hut. They are proud, and they are not trying to compete in a material world. They seem to be satisfied.  Of course this is not everywhere and not every one, but this is my experience. I know Africa and every country in it is not perfect, but I also know that in North America nor are we. 

I do think we can learn from Africa. I think we can learn to be more of community focused, more giving to our neighbour, smile more, and cry less. I do think that we can learn to be satisfied with what we have and not be so materialistic. I do feel that we should welcome people with pride with a smile on our face and love in our heart. I think we should be a country, community and continent of WE, and not ME. 

We can teach Africa too. I am a very proud Canadian and I am blessed with what I have and what I have achieved because I am in a country of opportunity. But to some degree I am ready to leave that behind for now, to pursue something much more simple – genuine gratitude. 

As I embark on this journey I know I will learn more about the African culture, about my husband, about me and about we. For the last few months while I wind down some of my Ignite Excellence training and business responsibilities and preparing for the business and philanthropic journey ahead, it has felt like I have little time to breath. My goal over the last few months was to set a foundation for opportunity with new initiatives. Mike and I have sold almost everything and I am very aware that we need to have something to come back to. Mike and I are in our mid 40’s and I do want to be smart about our financial future. So although we are going to Africa with charity in our hearts, we are also trying to be practical about our future.

This is the first time we have worked together, spent every waking hour together and travelled for over a month together. This blog will focus not on what we left behind but what we are walking into – you, me and we.  This blog will encapsulate a true celebration of Africa, our relationship and my journey.

AFRICA CLICKS Wisdom Exchange TV

Yesterday I posted on a couple traveling and working in Africa. Suzanne Stevens and her husband Michael Gingerich. Mike is my nephew.

. PLease note the correction to the foundation addy!

Their project is Wisdom Exchange TV and they are looking for subscribers to the site which is free.

I am posting their letter in it’s entirety below. Please enjoy, subscribe, and pass on!

Jumbo Chris

As you know my husband, Mike Gingerich, and I are travelling through Africa for the next year interviewing women leaders for Wisdom Exchange TV, amongst other philanthropic initiatives.

This is a pioneering initiative that not only are we excited about, but we believe will provide some fundamental leadership lessons for inspiring and already achieved women leaders.

Women are the change agents of Africa, and with higher education they can change many of the injustices that are done to women in the developing world.

We are asking you to subscribe to Wisdom Exchange TV and share the site with your friends. The subscription is FREE, and we will just inform you when a new episode is upload (by the way, this is quite the process in Kenya due to limited bandwidth).

The reason we are asking,

1. You will gain insight and perspective into Women from a huge continent.

2. You will also be assisting in helping us create awareness of the site, which will assist in gaining sponsorship for Africa Business Women Connected Summit taking place in Ethiopia in 2013 – promoting international trade.

The more people who subscribe, the more compelling to sponsors, the bigger impact we can make on women in Africa.

3. You will also help create awareness for the Ignite Excellence Foundation (www.igniteexcellencefoundation.org), where Mike and I are presently handing out three scholarships for under-graduates and post-graduates to invest in women leadership.

The belief is, the more women in leadership the more women will own land, be able to get passports, and will not be violated.

Please go to http://www.wisdomexchangetv.com and subscribe.

We appreciate your support and we look forward to hearing your updates on facebook, linked-in and via email.

Sincerely,

Suzanne F Stevens

Chief Edge Optimizer

Ignite Excellence Group of Initiatives

suzannefstevens@igniteexcellence.com

info@wisdomexchangetv.com

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