Meet my friend Maqulate Onyango (Maqui for short).
If your looking for a great story to read, click on the link below as espnW shares how she is making with the Global Sports Mentoring Program in partnership with State Department.
Here's the back story on how Maqui and I met and became friends this past fall.
In October, I was able to meet and connect with Maqulate Akorot. In a room of 100+ people, I could hear from her accent that she was from Kenya (or at least Eastern Africa). Sheepishly I approached and asked where she was from. It was confirmed that she lived and worked in Nairobi! As you can imagine I immediately had a friend and confidant in the room.
Then I asked who she was working for- CHRISC with a man named Mike. I couldn't believe it, in the entire metropolitan city of Nairobi we had a close mutual contact. CRISC is the exact same organization that Baylor connected the Youth Sports Team to in 2006. Mike was the man that coordinated the entire CD of children singing that launched the Omega Kids benefit concerts to build the Liberty House with Boniface.
It was in that moment when looking at Maqui (we gave her a American nick name) that I knew I was in the right place for a purpose. Things became more interesting throughout the espnWsummit as it was her first trip to the U.S.
As a friend who knew her home of Nairobi I could explain our customs and see through her eyes our unusual surroundings. What we were eating and where we were located was not "normal" for all Americans. (We were eating the nicest food and staying at the St. Regis on the beach). Having her presence there reminded me even more of how thankful I was to be in the room.
One of my favorite parts of the summit, was many times Maqui and I would be talking with a new person and we would be holding hands, because we were so happy we found each other.
In Kenya, it is customary that friends will hold hands to show affection. Walking down the street, you will see all ages holding hands in friendship.
What a remember most about Maqui is her infectious smile and laughter and how easily she extended a her hand of friendship to me. In a room full of some of the most powerful women in the US she was not afraid to laugh loud and give amazing hugs. She was the definition of genuine.
If there was a person in the last 6 months that has encouraged me and spurred me on to continue doing meaningful work it would be Maqui.
I am so grateful to John Skipper of ESPN and Hilary Clinton (when she was Secretary of State) to create the Global Sports Mentoring Program through the State Department. Because of this program, Maqui was able to make the trip and take skills back to Kenya/Zambia to enhance their programs on the ground.
I hope to see and maybe even work with this wonderful woman again someday.
Until the, I celebrate this amazing woman from afar.