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Shaping the future

Kenya, November 11, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Job Matseshe/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Timothy Lusala, the founder and Programs Manager for Africa Sports and Talents Empowerment Program, a Mercy Corps partner organization. Photo: Job Matseshe/Mercy Corps

In pursuit of a mentor or a role model, most people aren’t always fortunate enough to have someone who can serve as both. Most times, the mentor is someone they look up to and have a personal connection with, whereas the role model ranges from world-changing physicists to the Laureates of yesteryears. Most would opt to have the Richard Bransons of this world as role models, which is well and good.

But l have opted to choose from home, and I believe l am blessed enough to have found one who fits the bill right here in my part of Kenya: Mr. Timothy Lusala, the founder and Programs Manager for Africa Sports and Talents Empowerment Program (A-STEP), a Mercy Corps LEAP Sports local partner located in Uasin Gishu County, Eldoret.

Mr. Lusala is one of the few people with a record of building an organization with roots entirely embedded in the community from just a dream to the size that it is today. He once said, "Those who dare not dream will never realize their full potential because every reality sprouts from a dream." These are words that l will carry with me for a long time.

The idea that he and his colleagues shared was to come up with a community-based organization that embraces sports as a way of empowering youth socially and economically. To date, A-STEP is liberating young people from social ills that plague Kenya such as drug abuse, crime, violence, poverty and prostitution.

Harvesting from his teams’ hard work model, and with financial support from Nike through Mercy Corps, Mr. Lusala has managed to empower and encourage many youths in and out of school in the Uasin Gishu and Marakwet Counties. Their priority now is in engaging the youths and others through sports for peaceful coexistence among various ethnic inhabitant communities. They also encourage equality in gender, race, age, class and tribe. This has helped A-STEP to grow by leaps and bounds and, as a result, help more and more deserving youth.

Just like the proverbial Oak tree coming forth from a small seed, Mr. Lusala has managed to cultivate his dream of helping his community to a reality. This has been all through observing community work ethics, hard work, compassion, empathy, foresight and relentlessness. All this is sometimes done at the expense of spending time with his five-member family, who is fully behind him as he continues to work wonders in his community. His personal traits and values are also contributing factors to many people appreciation of him as a role model.

This, by any standards, is no small feat. For A-STEP as an organization, the sky is the limit. In the three years that it has been in existence, it has managed to achieve substantial goals through its partnership with both Mercy Corps and Nike.

From the humble beginning of a small shanty for an office and a handful of visionaries, Mr. Lusala and his team now coordinate more than 300 youth teams also registered as self-help groups with more than 3,000 members. It is no doubt most youth would want to identify with Mr. Timothy Lusala, just to share or be part of his vision.