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Author Shares his Story of the Founding of Carolina for Kibera

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“Talent is universal.  Opportunity is not,” Rye Barcott told students in the nonprofit minor at NC State University and members of the Institute for Nonprofit’s Community of Nonprofit Scholars (CONS) on August 14th

Barcott is the author of It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine’s Path to Peace.  As an ROTC student at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2000, Barcott traveled to Kibera, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, to gain a better understanding of ethnic violence.  During his research, he met a nurse, Tabitha Atieno Festo, and a community organizer, Salim Mohamed, and with them established the nongovernmental organization Carolina for Kibera (CFK).  Barcott worked with the organization while he completed his tour of duty with the Marines.  He now is employed at Duke Energy and continues to serve on the CFK’s Board of Directors.

The focus of Carolina for Kibera is to help train young people in the slums to be future leaders for the next generation.  The nonprofit connects talented young people with opportunities.

Barcott says the three founders wanted the organization to help people living in the Kibera community determine their own development projects.  One of the cornerstone projects is the Tabitha Medical Clinic started with $26 and now serving 40,000 people a year.   

In his presentation, Barcott outlined the steps he took to raise the first $20,000 to fund programs for Carolina for Kibera, reporting that “fundraising is not easy.” The organization now has a budget of $700,000. 

Barcott talked about the establishment of the organizational structure and its management and local governance in Kenya.  The nonprofit is run by a staff of individuals from the community with one paid staff person in the United States to coordinate the U.S.-based activities and assist with fundraising.   Volunteers in Kenya and the U.S. are a very important part of the work of CFK. 

Barcott’s book is the summer reading selection for NC State University freshmen.  Barcott was on campus to meet with discussion groups.  He notes that “universities create opportunities for students to tap into resources [like book discussions with authors] that any one individual could not provide.” 

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