IAP Fellow 2020: Kiara Wahnschafft Part III

Read Part II of Kiara’s fellowship here.

Read Part I of Kiara’s fellowship here.

I’m sad to say goodbye to the friends I have made both at Sanergy and outside of work here in Nairobi, but what a month it’s been! Over the past four weeks, I’ve developed a detailed framework for analyzing the cost of different waste treatment methods, created multiple designs for sites where this waste treatment can occur, and presented my work to the team so they can carry it forward!

I feel that my four weeks at Sanergy have been incredibly valuable in my own growth professionally. In the future, I hope to enact deep-rooted change in the lives of those around me. I do not want to simply add convenience to the world and I do not want to perpetuate inequity by propelling the select few farther forward. Starting a social impact venture in a developing community is one way in which I have envisioned myself making this impact. Being at Sanergy, for the first time, I got to experience what this would actually be like in practice. I learned from those who started the organization about its origins, its tumultuous journey of growth, and its projected continuity of that growth. At a more tangible level, I learned what the day-to-day looks like in a social impact venture – whether it’s the fires that have to be put out (not actual fires, luckily) or what exciting prospects may unexpectedly arise. 

My time at Sanergy also introduced me to new ideas for my professional path. Prior to January, I felt my path diverging: one side held on-the-ground impact (as in a social venture) and the other held high-level systemic change (as in policy-level solutions). Sanergy showed me that it is possible to combine the two: while they make an immense impact in Kenyan settlements with their own solutions, Sanergyworks at a higher level as well, interfacing with the Kenyan government and international policy makers to make strides in sanitation policy. This interweaving of policy and entrepreneurship is exciting to me and I’m very glad to know it exists!

Outside of Sanergy, during my time in Nairobi, I met people from all over the world. My roommates were from Italy, the Netherlands, France, and the U.S. As all of them worked within international development, I learned about the pain points and successes of their organizations. We constantly shared our differing perspectives and experiences in relation to this work, debating effective and ineffective approaches or implementation. But we also constantly shared and discussed other topics – the state of the political climate in France (or the U.S. because – how could we not), Italian culture within the family, treatment of refugees in the Netherlands, and more. It was incredible to be surrounded by such thoughtful friends who I loved talking with, learned so much from and feel sure that I will meet again one day. 

Tags: Fellowships IAP 2020, Health & Medicine, Kenya, PKG Fellowships, Water & Sanitation

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