I have to say that the enthusiasm and gratitude from the people impacted was quite substantial and very moving. People everywhere were happy to see us. From the Maasai tribesmen to the staff in the cities we visited, people were excited to see President Clinton, see us and were clearly grateful for all that the Foundation was doing.
Why I’m Optimistic
One of our stops was at an arena in Nairobi, Kenya, where about 5,000 students on scholarships provided by the "Wings To Fly” program were assembled. The students gathered to thank President Clinton along with the MasterCard Foundation and Equity bank, who sponsored the program through a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, for making their education possible. The assemblage was overwhelming and their enthusiasm and clear gratitude, rewarding. We heard from about 10 of the students who shared their poignant stories. The theme throughout was the rise from having nothing to becoming a person with a future; with hope. When President Clinton spoke he told the students that “everyone has a story.” He told a bit of his story growing up. He then referenced the recent terrorist attack that killed over 140 college students in Garissa and reminded us that we all have more in common than that which divides us. He went on to say that we can have our differences, but that everyone’s story deserves respect and needs to be told. He said that we have to let go of vengeance and replace it with forgiveness. Referring to the fact that the earliest evidence of human life on the planet was discovered not far from the spot where he was speaking, President Clinton closed by saying that “we just have to decide in this century whether those who would seek to kill off everyone who is different than they are will prevail, or whether, like the students in this room – those who can respect and appreciate our differences prevail? It’s up to you.”
I came away hopeful because the reaction in that room made clear that these students understand it. Over 10,000 have already benefitted from the Wings To Fly program. Barriers and differences in the world only exist if we give them the power to divide us. The fact that the Clinton Foundation is helping other organizations and institutions come together to make this kind of impact, person to person, country by country, leads me to believe that there is a brighter future.
Learn more about our work in Africa at africa.clintonfoundation.org.