Osman Kabia, '99: Sharing What He Has
September 10, 2013 by Lisa McMahon, M.A.'09
From the time when he was a little boy in Sierra Leone, Osman Kabia, '99, has seen the example of service to others. This example has stayed with him and inspired him to launch an organization dedicated to just that.
S.H.A.R.E. (Sustainable & Holistic Advances for Rural Education) was established with a vision to strengthen and advance shared responsibilities, shared values, shared opportunities, and shared leadership among rural inhabitants within the Republic of Sierra Leone.
“The name reflects my values of sharing what I have with others,” Osman says, noting that one of the most important things he can share is access to the resources people need, such as education and financial assistance. “I've met individuals who have helped me gain access, and now I want to give back.”
To that end, Osman is spending eight months in his home country to talk with people and learn what programs they feel are important. He'll also identify individuals who can help run these programs once he returns to the United States.
Osman's initial focus will be on education, including developing a summer camp where students from diverse tribal affiliations will learn more about their country's history and leadership so that they might become more engaged, civically responsible citizens. He'd also like to launch computer literacy programs in rural schools, and tutoring and tuition assistance programs to help students prepare for the national exams that are required to advance in their education.
Other ideas he intends to pursue include providing economic assistance for women to start businesses and water filtration systems and chlorine tablets to schools and clinics.
Osman has seemingly prepared for this endeavor through his entire post-NU life. Initially planning to pursue a career in international law, Osman stopped at a Peace Corps table during a career fair his senior year and became intrigued with the idea of assisting communities around the world. Because he was not yet a U.S. citizen, the representative suggested he consider applying for AmeriCorps.
From 2000-01, Osman worked in Atlanta as a member of AmeriCorps, serving the needs of residents living in impoverished neighborhoods. Two years later, and now a naturalized citizen of the United States, Osman was accepted into the Peace Corps' domestic and international volunteer programs. Assigned first to Mali, where he provided HIV/Aids education and helped to launch income-generating activities for women, then to Zambia, where he taught grantwriting to directors of non-governmental organizations and surveyed the community about their health practices and needs, Osman witnessed firsthand the importance of getting local residents involved when determining what kinds of projects would benefit them.
After his service in Zambia, Osman found employment at the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 2012, he was named a Foreign Service Limited Officer with the United States Agency for International Development and assigned to Afghanistan to assist during the drawdown. He returned to the U.S. in May and began working on S.H.A.R.E. He hopes that he can establish a solid foundation for the organization before returning to government employment.
“I'm not looking to change a whole nation,” Osman says. “If I am able to help one student compete for his or her livelihood in a global market, I'll be happy.”