Her time to Lead
Irene’s life was set in motion when her dad asked her at age six, what she wanted to be when she grew up.
Most girls in Kenya aren't asked that question or given the opportunity to even think about their life like that but Irene was fortunate to have two parents who believed in her and her sisters and now Irene is fulfilling her purpose.
"We have four girls in our family and I remember my dad telling us," she says. 'I don't want you to grow up to be married to ministers, I want you to grow up to be the ministers.' From then, I knew I could be the minister, I could lead people."
Irene Muinde is One Girl Can's Program Director based in Kenya. She joined the organization in 2016 and is instrumental in the growth of the organization over the years. She works directly with the girls, the principals, teachers, and mentors to ensure the success of the programs and provides leadership for the organization in Kenya.
"When I first applied for this position, it felt like the job completely fit me. I wanted to be at the centre of gender equality and influence change."
"Once I started talking to Irene, I hired her on the spot and started the next day," said Lotte Davis, One Girl Can Founder. "One of the best decisions I’ve ever made with One Girl Can."
ROLE OF A LIFETIME
There's no doubt that this is the perfect role for her and she truly found her calling. She credits her parents for being instrumental in her development, success and driving her passion for gender equality.
She's passing down those lessons she learned from a young age to the girls in our programs as their mentor, coach, and biggest cheerleader. Every girl in the program looks up to Irene.
"Through One Girl Can, I met Irene," said scholarship student, Royashley. "I just like how she drives her own car and manages herself. And I really want to become like her."
"As a leader, Irene is trusted, respected, and admired by all who work with her or for her," says Lotte. "She is a strong and caring role model wholly committed to the success of the girls she leads, mentors and coaches."
The feeling is mutual.
"These girls challenge me as a person and even make me put a little effort in my life when I'm slouching," she jokes. "I often get messages from the girls and then I remember I am someone's role model, I am someone's influence and I need to live up to it and they are what keeps me going in this job. The girls motivate me."
"The notes we receive from the girls, reminding us how we are touching and changing their lives, is what keeps me going. The parents sometimes call me just to say thank you and that the work we are doing is changing their lives."
What drew Irene to One Girl Can is that the organization is grounded in supporting a girl from the time she starts high school to the time she finds meaningful employment. She is an advocate for this model that really helps to encourage growth and success for girls in her country.
Through the building renovations, scholarships, training and mentorship programs, she loves seeing students completely transform from girls to women.
"I've seen some girls that were very shy, like Faith when I first met her. She was quite timid - she would not even look you in the eye - but through mentoring and the workshops she attends, Faith is now able to stand up and talk to people, she is a go-getter. She is growing up to be a phenomenal woman."
She goes on to list a slew of names and details their stories that she's intimately familiar with. It is apparent that she creates genuine relationships with the girls in the program and works to ensure their success.
With Irene leading the way, we know that we can go far and accomplish so much. Seeing the impact firsthand, no one knows better the effects of what encouragement, support, and mentorship can achieve.
"I know that we are creating change. These girls are going to be women of influence and they are going to give back and help other girls."