Graduate’s First Steps Story: Kally, Nigeria, 2023

This week, ARI and American Friends of ARI are fundraising for rural leaders to travel to ARI, with our Little by Little fundraising matching campaign on GlobalGiving. Read our story and consider supporting them with a donation.

Spring marks a new class of participants at ARI. Rural leaders are preparing for their journey to Japan.  For some ARI participants, this is their first time on a plane. Others travel more than a thousand miles to attend the Rural Leaders Training Program in Tochigi, Japan, leaving their families and community work behind for 9-months. Today, we’re highlighting Kally from Nigeria. Rural leaders like Kally travel to ARI for the betterment of their communities. Here is her story of traveling from Nigeria to the Asian Rural Institute.

My journey to ARI was the best experience of my life. My community is close to the airport, so traveling itself was not stressful. The thought of leaving my kids nearly killed me, but I knew I had to go because I work for my people and community.

At the airport, I met another participant for the first time from my home country. She has been a friend and and sister since. At Addis Ababa, we met many more participants and were so happy seeing them, because it was not just the two of us. I am afraid of heights, and was prepared in case I was sick, but the flight was safe and easy.

We reached Narita airport the next day and were picked up by ARI staff. When we went to buy a drink, we didn’t know what to pick. We saw a drawing so beautiful that we thought it was a fruit drink, but were shocked when we found out it was tea. We laughed, “Japan will not kill us, is it tea that has this beautiful label?” Later we realized that tea was the best thing you can give offer to someone. It was a challenge to try new things, but a good and wonderful experience to learn that we may live together.

Transportation is the most significant barrier to attending the Rural Leaders Training Program, yet it is the first step to achieving both personal growth and community transformation that lasts for generations. ARI and AFARI invites you to join our Global campaign to help ensure that all ARI participants have the funds available to take that first step. Join us in helping a new class of ARI participants start their journey of transformation.

If you would like to support rural leaders like Kally, please consider donating to our campaign.