Kayalyn Kibbe is a long way from her native state of New York. As a participant in AIF’s William J. Clinton Fellowship Class of 2014–15, Kayalyn’s new home is the Hutup Village in rural Jharkhand. There, she works for Yuwa, an organization that uses girls’ team sports as a platform to empower young girls and combat child marriage and human trafficking. Since 2001, the Clinton Fellowshipvhas paired a select number of highly skilled young Indian and American professionals like Kayalyn with leading NGOs and social enterprises in India in order to accelerate impact and create effective projects that are replicable, scalable, and sustainable.
As a Fellow, Kayalyn ran an academic bridge program for over 100 rural and tribal girls, and provided critical support to Yuwa’s daily operations. Of her many projects, she wrote a recipe book based on mother-daughter relationships in rural village life. To conduct research, Kayalyn has been visiting these girls’ homes, cooking with them, and observing their relationships with theirvmothers. “A lot of these girls come from families that don’t necessarily value girls, or see girls as an economic burden,” said Kayalyn. Community cooking and meal sharing is something that she is extremely interested in studying as a form of healing and transformation in communities. She’s also interested in the act of teaching within the kitchen setting—particularly in the way that mothers pass down familial and communal information, and in how the act of cooking together and feeding one another can open incredible spaces for transformative and healing dialogues.
“Throughout my fellowship I was amazed again and again by how dedicated and hardworking the girls of Yuwa are,” said Kayalyn. “My biggest accomplishments were always centered around my students, whether that meant every student understanding a core concept, or watching students become peer leaders within their classes.” One of those accomplishments came after months of one-on-one tutoring with a student who had previously failed her 10th standard board exam. She had struggled with the English portion of the exam, and was forced to take the year off from school and retake the exam. She and Kayalyn worked together a few times a week on reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary, and after months of work, she scored the highest marks on her English section, and placed second overall in her school for the exam.
Kayalyn has not only transformed Yuwa, but she has gone through an incredible transformation process herself. “The Fellowship provided me a space in which I could truly push myself and learn from others. I left the Fellowship more confident in myself, more aware, and more open to the wonderful chaos of the world.”