Dear Mr. Khalif
On behalf of Ms.Weitzman, Mr.Ajana, and the student body of PFA, we wanted to reiterate our thanks to you. Thank you for giving an interesting and great presentation to the students.
The presentation has sparked some questions and thoughts which some of the PFA team would like to know if you could please answer or share your opinion on?
The questions for you and the comments are here below.
Asante Sana (“Thank You” in Kiswahili), PFA Communications Liaison, James, 7th grade.
Note: To read the bio of Mr. Khalif on the PFA Executive Board, kindly click here.
Jake: During our talk with Yema, I learned a lot.
I learned how much work it actually took him to get here, to Marin, from his studies as a graduate student from Dominican to helping to educate girls as well as start a thriving company.
Yema: Yes, it takes continuous hard work (when you live in a slum) to get out. Sometimes things don’t pan out the way you want them to but we have discovered that we have to maintain hope. Hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and hence our burning desire to keep working hard.
There are not many opportunities in the slums so people creatively create their own opportunities through: arts, music etc. That’s why there is so much color and pomp in slums.
Jake: Though he has been afforded the opportunity to have an education he doesn’t stop giving back to his Kenyan community.
Yema: I believe giving back is essential to our existence. When we stop giving back, societal problems escalate to problematic levels. We should should all aspire to give back.
Jake: I have, for a long time, thought about what it would be like to live in the slums and how different my understanding of the world would be.
I could tell by Yema’s large muscles, his big heart and dreamer personality that it was hard to make it by some days which created a fire within him to succeed.
Yema: You can always visit a slum to experience it. It will be an eye-opening experience for you.
Yes, it takes continuous hard work (when you live in a slum) to get out. Sometimes things don’t pan out the way you want them to but we have discovered that we have to maintain hope.
Hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and hence our burning desire to keep working hard. There are not many opportunities in the slums so people creatively create their own opportunities through: arts, music etc. That’s why there is so much color and pomp in slums.
Jake: Overall, I see Yema as a role model and a teacher.
I am glad he is now on our PFA Executive Board.
Yema: Thank you very much Jake.
We should all aspire to be role models in our respective communities.
Mandy: Good afternoon Mr. Khalif,
I really enjoyed your presentation on Thursday during the PFA meeting, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us. Lately, I have been really interested in helping out the homeless and helping them get jobs and live their dreams.
I don’t exactly have a lot of boundaries or specific ideas but I was wondering if maybe you had ideas on what could be improved in the community you grew up in. If there is anything I could do to help the schools I would love to jump in and be a part of the project.
Your speech really touched me and I would like to help. Let me know what I can do. Thank you!
Yema: Thank you Mandy! I am happy you feel inspired and motivated to help.
There is always something to do. I am glad you are thinking about ways of helping the less fortunate. I will definitely let you know of the things we can do to help.
Riley: What was the hardest part of the transition from Kenya to the United States?
What was the most surprising to you?
Yema: The hardest was leaving my whole family behind.
It was really tough since I grew up with 3 brothers and 3 sisters.
I love them all very much and leaving them behind wasn’t easy.
The most surprising thing to me was the culture shock.
The way of life over here is very different.
Catalina: Mr. Khalif, thank-you for coming into our school today to bring new knowledge and understanding about people that have a life harder then most, and harder on a day to day basis, then we do here in Marin.
Yema: Thank you Catalina. And yes of course. My mom raised chickens for a bit but she did it for family meals. There are people who raise chickens on a small scale. If taught how to properly do it, I think they can tremendously improve this craft
Catalina: I was wondering what books you have read that have helped you make decisions to better your life?
Yema: I’ve read a lot of African literature by Chinua Achebe
I’ve read a lot of African literature by Chinua Achebe
Catalina: What role models did you have growing up that made a difference in your life?
Yema: Growing up, many of my role models were my teachers and friends who had made it out of the slums because they inspired me to dream to be a go-getter
Ceci: Mr. Kalif, you were really a fun speaker in our classroom and have inspired the PFA team. I appreciate your honesty and excitement about life.
My family raises chickens and use the eggs every morning for our breakfast. I was wondering if raising chickens and selling the eggs would be a good way to make money in the slums. Also, I wanted to know what the ages are for your students in middle school, and what subjects do they study? Out of your graduating class how many students will go on to high school?
Yema: Thank you Ceci!
The students ages are from 5 – 20 years. Middle schoolers are 11-13 years. They study all subjects (English, Math, Kiswahili, Art and Craft, Agriculture, CRE, Geography, Home Science)
Unfortunately, them going to high school or advanced education is not a given. They have to excel in national exams in order to progress. I talked about this a little when I came to your school.
So, they have to really study hard in order to pass these exams.
Mackenzie: Dear Mr. Khalif,
Thank you again for your visit last Thursday. I learned a lot about the education system of Kenya which helped me become more grateful for opportunities that I have.
I hope that I am able to keep this sense of how lucky I am throughout life.
I was also inspired when listening to your MBA graduate Dominican speech. I found it awing that not only have you found your life goal at such a young age but also it’s one that cares about the community and addresses a international problem.
Questions that I still have are at one point did the Unites States start to feel like your new home and if you describe your experience at Dominican with one word, what would it be?
My experience at Dominican was uber-amazing!
Yema: Thank you for your question Mackenzie!
The US started feeling at home after 3 years of being here — My junior year of college at Dominican. My experience at Dominican was uber-amazing!
Thank you guys… Please let me know if you have any more questions.