Today I retired from Microsoft after 17 years, putting a capstone on my high technology career that spanned 34 years. Microsoft was an incredibly great place for me to work, learn, and grow! Each of my roles presented significant business potential to unlock and the opportunity to discover unmet customer and partner needs. I was given the empowerment to ‘dive in’ with all I had to open up new business and grow our existing business, to help customers and partners achieve more, and to make a difference in people’s lives in so many ways. I will be forever grateful to the many people who I have learned from, for my mentors, for the opportunities I had, and for the blessing beyond measure to work side by side with so many fantastic people. To all of you on my 34 year career journey, my deepest thank you! As I reflect, likely the most important thing I learned in my career is this: alone we can accomplish ‘some,’ but together we can accomplish vastly more – beyond our wildest imagination at times! What’s required? A shared vision, a growth mindset, combined with optimism and grit everyday. I suspect, at some time in the future, I’ll post more about my learnings throughout my career. But not today.
Today I’d like to share briefly about why I retired and what I’ll be doing. Since 2009, I have been involved philanthropically with World Vision and the Child Protection through Education program in West Pokot, Kenya. In the Pokot tribal culture, girls became child brides, married by age 12 or 13 generally to men much older and as a prerequisite for marriage, were subject to the brutal practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. World Vision has learned that, by providing an alternative to early marriage and FGM/C (specifically by providing access to quality secondary education for girls) combined with community leadership endorsing cultural change along with comprehensive advocacy work with parents and boys, and the establishment of Alternative Rights of Passage, these retrogressive cultural practices can be greatly diminished in less than a generation. :-)! Here are a few of the proof points from the West Pokot project:
- In communities where World Vision has been addressing FGM/C and child marriage, girls have stated that education is beginning to replace FGM/C as their new rite of passage to adulthood.
- In current project areas, long-standing beliefs are changing and harmful practices are being dislodged: 92% of families believe FGM/C should end; and 84% of families believe in promoting Alternative Rites of Passage.
- Importantly, community leaders took a stand for children’s rights, which created significant momentum for child protection initiatives across West Pokot.
Note: Please read more about the specific outcomes for the West Pokot project in the FY18 Kenya Child Protection Semiannual Report posted below – the impacts have been far greater than I ever envisioned in 2009!
Why I retired – the Kenya Dream: World Vision has a dream to build on the success of the program in West Pokot and take it to other FGM/C and child marriage hot spots in Kenya where they work to ultimately end these retrogressive practices so that every child, girl and boy, can live life in all it’s fullness. I want to lean in to help them do just that. It’s why I retired.
Consider this excerpt from the World Vision Kenya Project Concept paper: Kenya Project Concept Final
Together, World Vision and the people of Kenya believe that every girl deserves a hopeful future, free of abuse, violence, and the harmful practices of female genital cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage. We have an ambitious vision: to create a sustainable, growing, ground-level movement leading to the end of FGM/C and child marriage in all of the Kenyan communities where we work. We see a future where educated girls and boys graduate onward and economically thrive, helping break the intergenerational cycle of poverty in their families.
Building on powerful and transforming successes achieved in the West Pokot region of Kenya, we will significantly expand our program to other FGM/C and child marriage hotspots. Working closely with community leaders and affected families, we will develop a foundation of proven results and, with the right partners, take our work country-wide. The direction in which this work leads has, as a further horizon, an end to FGM/C and child marriage in Kenya and beyond.
How large could this project be? The map below represents, in orange, the first phase of communities in which World Vision plans to bring the new integrated program to end FGM/C and child marriage. Their initial focus will be the communities of Sook, Orwa, Kegonga Ntimaru, Ilramatak, and Lorroki. The communities of Osiligi and Soin are included in this first phase as ‘stretch goals’, based on their relative need and state of preparedness. Other areas marked in gray are future sites waiting for funding during a country-wide scale-up.
What will I be doing in my retirement? All of this takes financial support. I’ve committed to World Vision to be a volunteer ‘ambassador’ to help them raise funds for this expanded project. In transparency, I’ve made a substantial financial commitment because I believe in what World Vision is doing, the outcomes being delivered and the lives they’re changing. To help World Vision raise funds, I’ll travel throughout the US to share the story at events and meetings, and host webcasts reflecting on the transformation I’ve witnessed over the past 8 years (I’ve traveled to Kenya 11 times) as well as talk about what’s happening in the new communities where the work is beginning. I suspect I’ll co-host trips to Kenya with donors and prospective donors so that people can see and experience firsthand the good, the difficulties, and the heart-breaking and meet the people involved driving to the change. I’ll also keep this blog current, likely “tweet” and do other social media things (with the help of some friends!)
How can you learn more? Please take a look at the full World Vision Kenya Project concept paper: Kenya Project Concept Final In addition, I posted the FY18 Semiannual report for the current project in West Pokot as well as the full FY17 report so you can review the numbers for yourself at the end of this post.
Also, follow me on this site or check back for updates!
What if I’d like to start financially giving now? I’ve set up a giving site here: https://mycause.worldvision.org/event/KenyaCP-Margo-Day
- Microsoft employees: please note, there’s a special giving link for you on this site
In conclusion: I am excited beyond words about this next chapter in my life. I have put my life in God’s hands and am looking forward to continuing to walk where He leads!
The Kenya Dream:
Kenya Project Concept Final
Current Project: West Pokot
West Pokot Project Report: By the numbers
- 511,063 people, including 305,087 children, reached through child protection initiatives since the beginning of the project, including 114,368 people in ﬁscal year 2018.
- 3,087 girls and boys report taking action to prevent violence against children in their communities.
- 11,462 parents/caregivers are committed to reporting abuse against children.
- 1,884 students are regularly attending classes at the ﬁve project schools: 330 students at St. Catherine Girls Secondary School, 359 students at
St. Elizabeth Girls Secondary School, 361 girls and 309 boys at Morpus Primary, 152 girls and 140 boys at Tipet Primary, and 233 students at Mtelo Girls Secondary School.
- Nearly 700 children are actively participating in assemblies, school groups, and weekly life skills clubs to become empowered leaders for positive change in their communities
- 249 faith communities are mobilized and taking action to protect children.