Muhunyo (Ephantus) Maina – Executive Director of Happy Kidney (HAKI) Foundation.

Receiving an award at the Inaugural East Africa Philanthropy Awards held in Entebbe in July 2012 was indeed the highlight of my participation at the Annual East Africa Grantmakers Conference. The award for Youth in Philanthropy recognized my outstanding contribution to strategic social development and to the growth of philanthropy in the region.

I am grateful to the East Africa Association of Grantmakers for  the thought of putting these awards together, the people that nominated me for their trust and recognition of my leadership ability and the work we are doing at HAKI. I was moved by the fact that people have taken note of our dedication, contribution and commitment to great leadership and governance in HAKI Foundation. I’m grateful to the Friends of HAKI, our partners, Board of directors, Staff, Ambassadors of Lifestyle Change and all other volunteers that continue to provide support to improve access to medical information and services in our society.

I’m driven by a personal philosophy that life is not based on what you do not have or what you did not achieve. What counts for growth is that you expose yourself and your commitment with unyielding effort to excel with what you have at that specific moment. This belief that stirs my heart to the commitment to social development, and so being recognized for outstanding contribution among likeminded youth like me has been very humbling and very inspiring at the same time. This award has been like a lease of new life to me. I’m also fully convinced that you should keep doing what you do with boldness and courage and without giving in to weariness. No retreat, no surrender!

The EAAG platform has been the best recipe for streamlining my vision, speeding my learning, sharpening my leadership and governance skills, increasing my capacity to set strong structures at HAKI Foundation such as monitoring and evaluation and ensuring that our values are consistent with our strategies and impact. I have also had an opportunity to learn best practices and broaden my network rapidly.

I remember a comment that was made at a previous EAAG conference in Arusha- Tanzania; ‘giving without a structure is like putting finances and resources in to a bottomless pit’, therefore; with time you become weary and unable to sustain your acts of generosity or initiatives. I’m personally delighted having witnessed the way this association and the recently well attended conference has created a hub that is enhancing individuals and institutions get into structured forms of giving. Through formal structures we will have long term sustainability I also trust that through organized philanthropy in East Africa we will be able to pull resources together, apply best practices, share knowledge and best practices and move faster to achieve collective goals such as the millennium development goals.

In conclusion I’m a deep believer that what you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. I encourage you to take charge of your diet, exercise regularly, seek medical advice more often, reduce salt intake, avoid self medication, drugs and alcohol abuse. Talk about it with others and always remember: it’s your life, it’s your health therefore it’s your responsibility.


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