Raphael Obonyo’s story is one of a dogged determination that has seen him fight all odds to be an influential youth leader.
Raphael grew up in Korogocho, a sprawling urban slum in Nairobi, Kenya where he has co-founded vibrant community youth led initiatives.
Raphael, 32 is the external adviser and a member of the UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board, which advises the agency on how to engage, integrate and respond effectively on issues affecting the youth. This puts Raphael at the global sphere of influential young leaders who can help shape the world by addressing post 2015 thematic issues that touch on the youth.
Recently, the German Marshall Fund of the United States has recognized Raphael Obonyo from Kenya as one of the emerging leaders.
In 2001, he co-founded Miss Koch initiative to promote girls’ empowerment and education. The initiative has done remarkable work of advocating for the rights and dignity of the girl child. In 2006, together with other youth in the area, he co-founded the Koch FM community radio, to give voice to the urban poor. He is also the founder of the Youth Congress, a vibrant youth organization that promotes youth leadership and participation. He also co-founded the K Youth Media, an organization that equips youth from the slums of Nairobi with skills on media and film.
Having been born and raised in harsh conditions in the slums, Raphael has a first-hand experience and has been conscious of the negatives effects of urbanization, underdevelopment, poverty and its related problems. Raphael, has certainly come a long way from the days when he was a boy studying in the dim light of a tin lamp.
As such, Raphael tends to understand deeply the issues affecting the urban poor and their families. This could be one of the reasons as to why nothing beats his sheer determination to see young and needy brilliant students from Korogocho, Mathare and other urban slums get an education and liberate themselves from their hardships. In the true sense of the word, Raphael is an enemy of poverty.
In 2008, he started a noble initiative to promote education as an important tool for development. He started by awarding best performing students. Through some of his friends in the Netherlands, he has managed to give full scholarship to 20 needy students from the slums of Nairobi to get them through secondary school. All the students go to Our Lady of Fatima Secondary School in Nairobi.
Such efforts to serve the community where he grew up in and better the lives of other young people have not gone unnoticed. In 2010, he was nominated by young people from Korogocho to sit in the UN Habitat Youth Advisory Board. In May 2012, the UN Habitat officially confirmed him as a member of the Board.
Raphael will soon be heading to Morocco to meet with high level policy maker, business leaders, media and opinion shapers from across the world to discuss a range of global issues.
Raphael who was pleasantly surprised by the recognition as an emerging youth leader in the world believes that being a member of the UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board has given him immense opportunity to serve the youth causes at the national and global arena.
He says that to be recognized as an emerging leader in the world is not only humbling, but calls for more determination in his part to give back to his global and local society. It has given him more enthusiasm and momentum to continue serving the youth and his community with determination.