Monday, June 16, 2014

Saran Kaba

 The Importance of Knowing

 Where You Come From

Tales have always held a special place in Saran Kaba's heart from childhood. They have kept her grounded and close-knit with her roots, and for that reason she took it upon herself to use storytelling to educate the youth on the importance of knowing where you come from.

Kaba is the author of "The Three Little Birds," a children's book about three little birds "that learn the hard way that when you're not united, things don't go as planned." She took a traditional tale shared by colleagues of her mother's  who had heard the strory growing up (originally from the Susu tribe), and added her own twist.

She was "the first to contribute a Guinean story to publishers: One Moore Book" and has received good-feedback since it was published. Several public schools have reached out to her asking to introduce her book to the youth and educate them on Guinean tradition. 

"[Guinean] culture is so strong in oral history; sharing stories will educate our kids," she said with a glow in her eyes and friendly smile.

Although Kaba was born in America, she speaks with never-ending appreciation for her connection to Guinea (where her father is from). As a teenager, she had the privilege of experiencing "the best of both worlds," living in both the United States and Guinea.

"It's very important to know where you come from," said Kaba. "That is what helps you decide what you want to do with your life."

Knowing where she came from and seeing Guinea's conditions during the time she resided there in the 90s, helped Kaba rest her head on becoming a philanthropist.  

She is the co-founder of Guinée Espoir, a New York-based non-profit organization. "Guinée Espoir (meaning Guinea Hope in French) is dedicated to promoting youth development in Guinea, West Africa. Guinée Espoir's vision is to create a lasting change in the lives of children living in Guinea by working to increase the access to education and addressing important topics such as healthcare and professional development. We work together with other organizations, local partners, and established groups, on projects aiming to better the lives of children in Guinea," explained Kaba.

Ihaku Ngokwey, a long-time friend of Kaba had this to say about her: "Saran is one of the strongest people I know. She's a very driven person...has a great work ethic, and is all about personal development, bettering herself."

Engulfed with a desire to show the world that moral values are instilled in Guinean tradition, and the passion for giving back, Kaba's journey has just begun, for she has plans of returning home to discover more stories to share with the world.

A Glimpse of Kaba's World

"I am obsessively determined...I talk about things and plan to make them happen."-Kaba
Kaba holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Studies from City College and a Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College

"If you don't ask for what you want, you will never get it...keep pushing and do what you can until you can't."-Kaba

"I know it sounds cliché, but I get my biggest pleasure from helping others."-Kaba

Since Kaba graduated in 2005, she has been working in the non-profit sector. Some of the organizations she has worked with include: Equality Now (an international women's rights organization), Foundation for Aids Research, Children's Brain Tumor Foundation, Ubuntu Education Fund, she is a co-founder of Guinée Espoir, and is now working at Center for Reproductive Rights 

"There are so many organizations out there with the same goals. Why don't we all talk to each other and make these projects happen together? If we work together, we can get these projects done quickly."-Kaba

Twins and Founders of Guinée Espoir
(L-R) Sarata Kaba-Fofana, Saran Kaba 
"I am very fortunate to work with my twin's amazing to have someone who has the same goals and vision as you... we make a good team because we're good at different things (I'm good at talking and she's good at planning)... we are go-getters, we never take 'no' for an answer."-Kaba

Ways to Reach Kaba

Facebook: Guinee Espoir/ Saran Kaba

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