30 Jan Find Me Unafraid by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner
Book Review By Saima Bukhtiar
Have you ever been stuck in a tough situation and were ready to give up? Do you sometimes think that life is unfair and nothing could change your circumstance? In “Find Me Unafraid,” an autobiography by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner, you find that anything can be achieved when hope and true love are by our side.
Kennedy and Jessica, two people from completely different worlds, come together and with the power of true love, make an invaluable contribution to the community of Kibera, one of the largest slums in Kenya, Africa.
Kennedy, a poor man, raised in Kibera, goes through many ordeals. Despite life’s hardships, Kennedy manages to hold on to hope and perseveres through the toughest of times. Regardless of being homeless, starved, abused and exposed to gangs, he continues to pick himself back up and keeps going. His mother, a strong woman who was his inspiration, believed that:
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
What further inspired him and gave him hope was a book, A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King. Hopelessness can lead to self-destruction if frustration is not used in a positive way. Kennedy, though feeling trapped by poverty, does not fall prey to despair. He does the best he could with what he has in that moment and uses his positive energy to build and create, benefiting his community by bringing change one step at a time. It all starts when Kennedy buys a soccer ball for 20 cents and starts a youth empowerment program, SHOFCO or Shining Hope for Communities, which brings the people of Kibera together.
Jessica Posner, born in Denver, Colorado, and studying at Wesleyan University, comes to Kenya, for a semester abroad. She is bold, fearless, and persistent. Deeply touched by the harsh living conditions and gender inequality faced by the people of Kibera, Jessica becomes the cofounder of SHOFCO, with the slum’s first free school for girls, Kibera School for Girls, established in 2009. Jessica falls in love with Kennedy. She helps him escape Kenya to protect him from political violence. Through her unwavering persistence, she manages to get Kennedy admission in Wesleyan on full scholarship. Jessica works hand in hand, from the initial stages of offering her labor in the construction of the school, to staying in Kenya to help run the school, while Kennedy finishes his college education.
This book is an unbelievable account of how to face cruel realities of life full of seemingly inescapable poverty, loss and betrayal and yet hold onto hope. To fall and yet have the courage to pick yourself back up and continue to give. It inspires us to take baby steps toward bringing a change and making an impact. Each one of us has the power to make a difference in this world. We must always hold on to hope tightly. We must never give up.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”