Author: Kate Keller
It’s that time of year again when the streets come alive with bright lights and sparkling garlands of all shapes and sizes. Despite these difficult times, you can still hear laughter, chatter, and carols singing. In my country, Russia, the biggest holiday is New Year’s day. A couple of years ago, I happened to be in New York during this time of the year. Crowds of people were walking in a hurry, everybody seemed to mind their own business without taking care of one another. But then, I witnessed a woman hurrying like everyone else suddenly stopping in front of a homeless person and smiling as she gave him a present wrapped in colorful paper. He quickly unwrapped it, and I could see that it was wool socks. The man smiled so broadly as this gift not only brought warmth to his feet but also his heart. Such a small act of kindness, so simple, but so powerful in its beauty.
Wool socks are a very practical gift. Unfortunately, it cannot solve all problems or sometimes be of any use at all – especially in countries that are warm all year round, like East Africa. There, people struggle with the increased poverty rate, high rates of unemployment, lack of education, steady food, and clean water. According to the United States agency for international development (USAID), “East Africa is [also] affected by a wide range of climatic shocks and stressors, including droughts, floods, heatwaves, pests, and diseases, among others”.
Women suffer even more due to the historical patriarchal nature of society. As reported by an East African community, “despite constituting over 60 percent of this population, [women] are still marginalized in the decision-making processes and have limited access to education, finance, information, and communication technologies compared to their male counterparts”. Nearly a third of women carry deep-rooted scars of gender-based violence (GBV) – scars of abuse, sexual harassment, child marriage, and/or domestic violence. During the pandemic, the situation has intensified under lockdowns with “a 48% increase in the GBV cases reported to the police or through the GBV toll-free lines”.
The world is not without kind-hearted people who wish to help others and see a change for the better in East Africa. There are several social organizations that fight gender, health, and education inequalities. Unfortunately, most of them are still early-stage, which is why they lack the visibility and credibility needed to make a real impact.
We at Lightup Impact support the founders of these organizations in their changemaker journey to reach their goals, become sustainable, and accelerate growth. Lightup Impact is a networking, educational, and social platform. It is a community for early-stage social entrepreneurs with shared values and goals.
We build new partnerships to amplify underrepresented voices, empower women, improve their health, and give them access to education. This will not only enable better lives for women but will also lead to successful achievement of overall development goals in East Africa because every human being will work together towards the same goal.
Let us do magic together!