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Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,855 ratings  ·  266 reviews
Find Me Unafraid tells the uncommon love story between two uncommon people whose collaboration sparked a successful movement to transform the lives of vulnerable girls and the urban poor. With a Foreword by Nicholas Kristof.

This is the story of two young people from completely different worlds: Kennedy Odede from Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, and Jessica Posner from
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 13th 2015 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 4.48  · 
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Ron Hoffman
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have not often read a book where I was brought to tears so many times. The life of abject poverty of Kennedy and the great love of him and his work, by Jessica are an incredible story of hope and charity.

I had not expected a book about social programs in Kenya to be a page-turner, but it was hard to put this book down. Kennedy ended up in Kiberia, the largest slum in Nairobi, and faced a life without any money or hope, until he realized that he could make change.

PLEASE read this book.
Bonnie
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
One of the best books I've read this year.

Kennedy grew up in Kiberia, Kenya - one of 8 children living in the slums. There was no electrity, no running water, no sanitation, no employment, no education, no health care. He lived on the streets avoiding his abusive father, his younger sisters being raped, opposing tribe members killing their neighbors. At age 16, he was inspired by the written words of Martin Luther King and others: through community there had to be a way to make their lives bette
...more
Joann
Wow! I just finished this awesome memoir and would not hesitate to recommend it to everyone I know. Kennedy Odede grew up in the largest slum in Africa, Kibera, and the two authors narrate in alternating chapters. He tells of his childhood of extreme poverty, abuse and struggle in the slum which I think would break most people. Jessica Posner, a privileged, 20 year old Wesleyan student on a semester abroad project in 2007 travels to Africa to help out with a theater group that Odede runs.
I will
...more
Liralen
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it
One of those oops-I-accidentally-saved-the-world books. She was a naïve American college student studying abroad, he a community organiser who'd grown up in—and still lived in—the infamous Kibera slums. She convinced him to let her stay with him instead of in a more comfortable homestay, and so it went.

Eventually they built a school in Kibera for young girls, but the bulk of the story does not focus on that. I imagine that there was a fairly heavy editorial hand, but the emphasis is on Odede's y
...more
Janice Smith
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The best non-fiction book I've read this year! In fact, words cannot describe how fantastic this book was so I'll just write a few tidbits. Kennedy & Jessica's story about founding Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and starting the Kibera School for Girls in the slum of Kibera was inspiring, heartbreaking and certainly eye-opening. I love how the book jumped back and forth to tell the story from each of their perspectives. They had big dreams that seemed impossible, but they showed that two ...more
Sarah
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: strongwomen
Wow. This is one of those books that you read and start to wonder about what you're doing with your own life. The story of Kennedy and Jessica is phenomenal, primarily of course because of the impact they are having on the world, but also because of the grit and determination it required for them to get to that point. Clearly there is a lot that had to have gone on that didn't make it into the book (the story definitely got jumpy the further into the timeline it went), but even just what is ther ...more
Christine Sokomba
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book was full of so much suffering but so much perseverance and hope! Deeply insightful look into extreme poverty in a slum in Kenya, and how one man dreamed and worked to change the futures of an entire community. Truly a must-read!
Keith Alverson
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: africa
I enjoyed this book. Definitely worth reading. I am impressed with both these young author activists. Kennedy's prose is left fairly raw, showing his roots clearly in the writing. The story of hope feels good. At the same time, I am not in the least convinced that this SHOFCO effort is fundamentally different from the various NGO's Kennedy criticizes in the opening pages, most of which learned the same lessons about local leadership and ownership that he calls for decades ago. "Is this really a ...more
Farrah
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow. Just wow. People like this are so amazing and inspiring. I really was in awe of this story and what they have built from the ground up. This was a good book, def worth reading.

One quote that I loved:

My mom shared some wisdom as we ate: “You have to know in this world that we live in, there are two things: God and small gods. You see, there is one God, but he is very, very busy. He has the problems of everyone in the world to worry about so don’t expect that he will get to yours anytime soo
...more
Patricia
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The partnership of Kennedy and Jessica has resulted in a successful model for positive change in challenged areas. They do not sugarcoat the problems but the combination of education for girls + social services for the community + clean water and improved sanitation = hope where there once was little of that. Their love story of two people from radically different cultures learning to connect and grow was also inspiring. I hope to read more of their story and the continuing story of the Shining ...more
Grace
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book! It was so powerful and I just didn't want it to end because it was so beautifully written. ...more
Linda Pursley
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They had a dream...

A powerful testimony to grasstoots community organizing, and the dreams of two amazing young people to transform their Kenyan community.


Kelsey Keith
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A truly inspirational and unbelievable story. Excited to discuss it with the IB kiddos!
K
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is co-written by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner. Jessica is a young white American college student who travels to Kibera, a slum community in Kenya, as part of a semester abroad program. There she falls in love with local Kenyan activist Kennedy.

If that is all this book was, it would be a cliche....luckily there is quite a bit more to the story although some of the cliches are still there which is why I gave the book 4 rather than 5.

The book takes “turns” by sharing points of view:
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Monica Tomasello
What a powerful story!

Kennedy is an amazing man. Growing up in Kibera, the biggest slum outside Nairobi, Kennedy was knocked down by hunger, lack of education and violence, yet he continued to get up again and again. He fought not only for himself, but for his family and everyone else around him in need.

As a young man, he organized a group of friends and started SHOFCO, an organization that works to empower the residents, particularly the women, he meets a dynamic young American woman named Jess
...more
Laney
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The writing isn’t stellar, but the story sure is. This is one of those books that makes you just sick about what is happening to people in the slums. What a reminder of my privileged and safe and comfortable life. This book made me feel alternately sick at the suffering described and incredibly impressed and hopeful at the work Kennedy’s organization is doing.
Vee
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be one of the best books I’ve ever read. The extreme poverty will make you cry, but the hope and love will inspire you. An incredible story!
Deepa
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s amazing what one person can achieve with the dreams and dedication and perseverance despite the circumstances that they’re born in.
Like they say it only takes one person to start making a change
Kari
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable story about two of the most determined, hardworking, passionate people I’ve ever heard about!
Christy
May 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed listening to this book and I whole heartedly recommend it. Not at all surprised by the percentage of 5 star reviews. PS: I found this on the Hoopla app.
Susan Tiberghien
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very inspiring true story of what one person and then two persons can do to make this world a safer home.
Sarina M
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, a
4.5 I really love cultural / travel memoirs, and this was a really great one. Started listening to the audiobook this morning and couldn’t stop till it was done. The romance was really sweet and very real (after reading a bunch of romance novels realistic relationships now seem novel). I wish we would have seen a bit more of the beginning of the relationship from Odede’s perspective.

I loved Odede's sections best. His childhood, work in Kenya, and perspectives of life in the U.S. were amazing an
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julie martin
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kimk
This book certainly gave me a window into the nexus of drive, luck, and privilege that is behind turning a passionate idea into a reality. Aspects of this book made me incredibly uncomfortable, particularly the dance around how involved someone coming from obvious connection and privilege can and should be involved in social empowerment of another's community. Sometimes money was refused on those grounds and at others it was welcomed. It is a difficult dance for certain, but as it is a work of n ...more
Karen Drake
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I know poverty on a level I will never understand exists, but because I've never had to confront it, I don't think too much about it. Find Me Unafraid forces readers to think about it, and I certainly don't know how people like Kennedy Odede survive a childhood under such circumstances. It's easy to use the hashtag #firstworldproblems, but that doesn't even begin to touch on the advantage even poor Americans have over people from areas like Kiberia.
I appreciated the back and forth from Kennedy a
...more
Elizabeth
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had seen first seen this couple and their work on the documentary A Path Appears by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. A week ago I saw this book highlighted on Facebook by A Mighty Girl and I knew that I wanted to read the book and that I wanted to give it to my daughter. So following the old custom that I shared with my high school friend, I bought the book as a Christmas present for my daughter but have already read it myself! ☺️

Even though I already knew a lot about their story, I couldn'
...more
Sheri
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The story centers on the slums of Kibera outside of Kenya. Jessica goes for what she thinks will be a semester abroad, but it turns into a project that appears to be the passion of her life. Not to mention meets the love of her life in the most unlikely place. I think you couldn't put two more different people together.

I found the story compelling as it is so current. The hardships that the residents endure in Kibera. You often hear about riots and destruction on the news domestic and abroad and
...more
Julie
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book of just what the title says love, loss, and hope in an African slum. I first encountered the story of the authors on a documentary and for almost every heartbreaking story there was a story of hope to counteract it. When you read this book you are left feeling inspired that with hard work and determination a small idea can really grow into a movement. This book leaves you feeling that there is good in the world and that you can make a difference.
Sara
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant and a must read for everyone! It's a love story in the obvious ways, and the not so obvious ways. You find yourself wanting to cheer out loud for Jess and Kennedy--and the wonderful Kibera School for Girls. Never underestimate the power of love and passion to get impossible and wonderful things accomplished. I've been a supporter of SHOFCO for some years now and only vaguely knew the story behind it. I'm so glad I read this book. It makes it even more special. ...more
Stacie
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't read this book fast enough. I just couldn't put it down. This beautiful , heartbreaking, inspiring, and hopeful story shines a light on communities in desperate need, helping others to understand the situations facing them, and helps me to know that real change is possible. It's clear that the path that these two individuals were led down was divinely influenced, and their story is incredible. An excellent read. ...more
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83 likes · 7 comments
“I thought, if we could just come together as a community, even if that just meant playing soccer together, that could be the beginning of something good. Coming together as a community, as a people, creates more power than exists when individuals are fighting each other for scraps. Soccer has always brought people together. Soccer was where I would begin.” 3 likes
“There are two way of escaping your poverty,' he offers quietly. 'One, you can use drugs, get drunk - escape. Or you can escape into the world of books; that can be your refuge.” 2 likes
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