Visiting Kenya last weekend, Barack Obama stirred hearts and minds with his words on the country's potential to become a development success story. Gracing a summit on African entrepreneurship, the President rightly celebrates the efforts of the inspirational men and women working to bring prosperity to the country and the wider continent.
As we packed up our kit in the hot sun and Mary showed us the way back through the village and scarce trees to our car I thought about how hard it had been to hear Jane and Mary's stories, but was wowed by their powerful determination to end FGM and tell others about its dangers. Mary's final words to me are ones I'll never forget...
One of the things I love about my job is that I get to be optimistic every day. That's because I, and my colleagues working in international development, look at the problems of the world that are rooted in poverty and inequality, and refuse to accept that the world is not smart enough or rich enough to defeat them.
In Kenya and Uganda children who are both deaf and blind face huge challenges. Many are literally hidden away from the world around them, as parents struggle to understand what is wrong with their child or how to communicate with them while dealing with the social stigma of raising a disabled child.
Crossing the road to my office from lunch recently, a tiny girl ran after me and held my hand to ask for money. I told her that it is not right for children to beg. She looked at me sternly as if daring me to do anything about it. Looking over my shoulder I saw her young mother sitting by the roadside keenly watching, encouraging her.
At the end of the invigorating and stimulating three day Skoll World Forum I met with Kennedy Odede, founder of Shining Hope for Communities, (SHOFCO) and Kibera School for Girls. Our meeting was inspiring and poignant and echoed many themes I had heard throughout the conference regarding the importance of girl's education. It seems fitting that I tie my interview with Kennedy to these issues in this article.
When parents and those in-charge of small children are asked what it is that they have done all day, the answer can be hard to quantify. The exact details may be hazy, some of it may sound like nothing much at all and there are probably moments they've forgotten to account for, but it covers a great deal.
We were told that someone requiring treatment for Aids had died because they could no longer afford to pay their medical bills. Wives of some of the workers started to turn up at our house (R now worked from home as the company offices had no electricity) with babies and small children, asking for help we couldn't give.
The Mara has long been the image of Africa. It is hauntingly beautiful, wild and largely untamed land with vast, open plains that roll on for hundreds of square miles. I was struck when I first came here by the way the Maasai seem to glide across each blade of grass, their feet barely touching the ground.