For those of you who do not know me, my name is Brian Odina. I was born and raised in Kibera with a single mother. We were three in my family – mom, one sister, and myself. The harsh reality of poverty was the unrelenting backdrop of my childhood. I spent much of my childhood worried about the people closest to me, and whether we could meet our basic needs.
As a teenager, I got involved in a Youth Empowerment Program at Facing the Future School (FAFU). The school was funded and built by Crossing Thresholds. At FAFU more than 8 years ago, I was blessed to meet the people who were involved with this organization. I can only say ‘they have been so instrumental in helping me realize more of my potential’. First, they provided a scholarship for me to attend college. A few years later, they gave me a chance to be trained as a certified fitness coach. It has been a great relationship.
I have learned many lessons. One of the biggest lessons has been the power of social connections. Growing up in Kibera, my social connections were important to me. But they were also limited. Through Crossing Thresholds, I have grown as a person and my life has become bigger. Even more, I have become more positive and see myself as a top, upcoming fitness coach.
I would remind everyone that we are social beings. And as it turns out, we are going to be a lot healthier if we continue to grow our social connections. The correlations are huge and inspiring – less psychological trouble, and improved physical fitness and health. So please, everyone, do what you can to develop more connections whether it’s speaking to strangers or spending more time with existing friends.
Last year with my new conviction about connection and the chance to empower others, I intentionally decided to become more engaged in my community. My goal was to create a space where everyone discovered their God-given power and potential. If I can beat the harsh reality of poverty, I know that others can too no matter their circumstances.
As a fitness coach and NOW on staff for Crossing Thresholds, I am confident I can be a good example to all the children in Kibera. While I still worry sometimes, I believe in myself and I believe I can be a positive influence in every connection I make.
Assistant Director of Kenya Operations