Ahmad Alhendawi Visits Kenya on His First Trip to Africa as Secretary General of WOSM
Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi made his maiden trip to the Africa Scout Region since assuming office as the Secretary General (SG) of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) when he visited Kenya between 15-17 May 2017.
His visit was informed by the fact that Kenya holds a special place in the history of the Movement by being the last resting place of the Founder, Lord Baden Powell, and his wife Lady Olave Powell. Kenya also hosts the Africa Regional Office of the World Scout Bureau (WSB), which is the Secretariat of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in the Sub Saharan Africa, for the last 25 years at Rowallan National Scout Camp in Nairobi. The Kenya Scouts Association is also the largest National Scout Organization in Africa and the sixth largest in the world with over 1.4 million members.
Revitalizing the One World Scout Bureau
On his arrival, he was received by the Regional Director for Africa, Frederic Kama-Kama. He then proceeded to a meeting with all the staff members of the WSB Africa Support Centre. With the staff, he shared his agenda for the revitalization of the One World Scout Bureau and gave highlights of the seven operational objectives and 50 actions contained in the agenda.
While thanking the staff for the work they do in supporting delivery of Scouting in the region, he challenged them to find new and innovative ways to re-energize Scouting in Africa. “We are in the most difficult sector in the world - which is getting the attention of the young people. But it is also very greatly rewarding as well,” he said.
He also mentioned that while Africa’s youthful population is its greatest asset, young people are generally faced with an equal share of great passion and frustrations. “Scouting therefore needs to engage young people more to channel their energies for positive action. This we can achieve by refocusing our work on achieving the mission and vision of Scouting” he added.
He ended the meeting by reiterating his commitment to work with the leadership of Scouting in Africa to grow and enhance the WSB’s support for better Scouting in the National Scout Organizations (NSOs). “NSOs expect us to do and offer more, so as the One World Scout Bureau, collaborating between the Global and Regional Support Centres, we need to do just that,” he concluded.
After the meeting, Ahmad had the opportunity to meet each of the staff members individually to get insights into their work and the challenges they face in the process. He later joined them for lunch and thereafter on a walk around the lush-green Rowallan National Scout Camp that hosts the Africa Support Centre. This gave him an opportunity to get a feel of how the staff interact outside the office business.
Later in the afternoon, the Regional Treasurer, Jeremy Miriti, took him to see the proposed site for the new WSB office block within Rowallan Camp and discussed the progress made so far with the support of Kenya Scouts Association, Government of Kenya and the Africa Scout Foundation.
The day ended with a meeting between the Secretary General, Regional Director and the Regional Treasurer during which they discussed various issues relating to Scouting in the Africa Region.
Celebrating the Achievements of Kenya Scouts Association
On the second day of his visit, the Secretary General visited the Kenya Scouts Association (KSA) headquarters at Rowallan Camp. Here he held a meeting with the Chief Commissioner of KSA, Mr. Ray Charles Musau; the Deputy Chief Commissioner of KSA, Ms. Lydiah Kiburu and the Deputy National Executive Commissioner of KSA, Mr. Josephat Gitonga in the presence of the Regional Director.
In the meeting, the Chief Commissioner welcomed the SG and thanked him for choosing to visit Kenya as his first destination in Africa. He also took the opportunity to highlight some of KSA’s achievements over the last 5 years and the plans for the coming years. Ray pointed out that of the 1.4 million scouts in Kenya 40% are girls although NSO still faces challenges with attracting and retaining women into various positions of leadership. “With the rich Scouting history Kenya has, we do owe the movement to be a good NSO. Even with all the progress we have made, we will continue challenging ourselves to become even better,” he concluded.
On his part, the Secretary General thanked Kenya Scouts Association for the many years of collaboration with the World Scout Bureau. He also appreciated the kind gesture from KSA that has seen the WSB allocated land within Rowallan camp to build a new office block to serve as the headquarters of Scouting in the Africa Region. He further congratulated the Chief Commissioner and his team for the good leadership that has seen the NSO make great achievements over the last five years. “Having learnt of these achievements, we are keen on using Kenya Scouts as a model to inspire many other NSOs in Africa with the message that good governance is possible,” he observed.
The Regional Director pointed out that Kenya has a big role to play in Scouting as many of the things we do in Scouting were written by the Founder while in Kenya. “Kenya needs to package and share its story of growth and transformation to inspire other NSOs in the region and around the world,” he said.
After the meeting Ahmad proceeded to inspect a guard of honour mounted by young Scouts. Together with the Chief Commissioner, they then planted commemorative trees. This was closely followed by another meeting with the KSA staff members. Here the Secretary General had the opportunity to hear more about the Association’s path to strategic change management, strengthening its structures and achieving transformation and growth in both quantity and quality.
“I am deeply inspired by what you have done. And for everyone who doubts the relevance of Scouting today, our ability to connect more young people and offer solutions to a challenging world and for youth development, Kenya has offered a solution. What you have done - shown relevance, growth, improving governance, connecting with more young people, and offering the magic of Scouting is truly amazing.” stated Ahmad. He went on to say that in his reflections on what makes Scouting unique, he has not come across any programme in the world that tackles, in one tent, all the elements of youth and community development, while having fun.
While congratulating the KSA, he challenged them to continue on the journey of growth and in innovating the youth programme and to extend a helping hand to other NSOs in Africa that could benefit from its experience. “Our task today is to bring forward Scouting for another generation of young people - more innovative, stronger and bigger, and really tackling the big challenges we have in our world today,” he concluded.
In her vote of thanks to the Secretary General, the Deputy Chief Commissioner of KSA, Ms. Lydiah Kiburu said, “Your vision, your promises, your challenges and your words of encouragement actually speak and breath life into our next growth phase. We want to assure you that our commitment is unending, both for staff and volunteers. The things you have said have landed on fertile ground. KSA is a movement that has evolved towards full maturity - where people are relinquishing their positions with a feeling of gratitude acknowledging that its time to pass on the mantle to a new crop of leaders.”
After the meeting, Ahmad had some moments of fun with the Scouts engaging in song and dance, after which he travelled to Nyeri.
Reconnecting with Baden Powell's Legacy in Nyeri
While in Nyeri, Ahmad was received by the Office of the Governor of Nyeri County, where Baden Powell spent the last years of his life and chose to be buried. After a meeting with the representatives of the County Government, that focused majorly on protecting and promoting the great Scout heritage that exists in Nyeri, the Secretary General addressed members of the press from different media houses that had come to cover his historic visit.
He thereafter had the opportunity to visit and have lunch at Baden Powell’s House “Paxtu” located within the grounds of Outspan Hotel. Here he came face-to-face with the rich history of Scouting housed here, both from Baden Powell himself and from thousands of Scouts who visit the house every year from all parts of the world.
Ahmad also held meetings with the County Commissioner of Nyeri - who is the National Government’s official representative in the County, with who they discussed matters relating to securing Scouting property and heritage in Nyeri as well as plans for the development of Nyeri International Scout Centre on a piece of land allocated to the World Scout Bureau by the Government of Kenya.
Scouting being and educational movement, the Secretary General also met the Nyeri County Director of Education. They exchanged thoughts on the value of non-formal education in complementing School curriculum and the value of Scouting’s educational programme in the development of young people.
A visit to Nyeri would not be complete without paying homage to Founder of the Scout movement, Lord Baden Powell and his wife Lady Olave Powell. In a brief ceremony held at their graves at St. Peter’s Cemetery, the Secretary General paid his respects to the man and woman to whom we owe the Scout movement as we know it today. He laid a wreath and re-affirmed his promise, while facing Mt. Kenya. He also took that opportunity to share a few words with the Scouts who had come to join him at the graveside.
Here he also held a one-on-one interview with the media and shared his thoughts on different issues facing young people in Kenya, Africa and the world. He also held a brief meeting with the leadership of Scouting in Nyeri County at the Baden Powell Information Centre located within the BP Memorial Gardens.
Scouting is Africa’s Solution to Challenges Facing Young People
The Secretary General came with a message of peace and solidarity with Kenya and Africa as a whole; and the potential of its youth. His visit highlighted Scouting’s contribution towards the growth and development of young people while presenting the movement as a solution to maximizing youth development potentials. Mr. Ahmad also sought, through the different meetings, to deepen the collaboration with the movement’s stakeholders to further support WOSM’s vision to become the world’s leading educational youth movement, enabling 100 million young people to be active citizens creating positive change in their communities and in the world based on shared values.
One of the key messages of the Secretary General during his entire visit has been to challenge on how Scouting is unlocking the potential of young people in Africa. “Our responsibility today is how we can connect Scouting in Africa to become part of the solution for this continent’s massive potential that is called young people - and which is the biggest asset Africa has,” he said. Ahmad however remains optimistic saying that thanks to strong leadership and commitment - of both staff and volunteers - it is possible for us to offer Scouting as the solution for youth development.
The Secretary General concluded his visit with a promise of continued support and collaboration among the World Scout Bureau Support Centres across the globe towards supporting National Scout Organizations to innovate, grow and make Scouting available to many more young people across Africa.