Ruth Messinger

On a recent trip to Kenya, I reflected on the meaning of power and the impact of powerlessness when a Kenyan environmental activist shared the following insight: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. And if you’re on the menu, someone will eat you up.”

As president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS)—an international development and human rights organization—I’ve traveled to Kenya many times. It is among the world’s 30 poorest countries, with 46 percent of the population living below the poverty line. The majority of Kenya’s rural population relies on farming, fishing, or grazing, with villages and nomadic tribes clustering around the arid country’s few natural water sources. Many of these people are subsisting on the same crops and livestock that have fed their families for generations. But in the last several decades, a new threat to their livelihood has emerged—modern industry, and its hunger for salt, titanium, and oil.

Keep Reading Show less
Trending Stories