23 Feb 2024

Restoring The Villiage: Miriam Kaba

Josh Pereira


“It’s not just me, it’s we.” – Mariam Kaba

It takes a village to restore a village. Woonsocket High School senior Mariam Kaba, the Papitto Opportunity Connection 2022 Transform Rhode Island Scholarship (TRIS) winner, has spent the last year collaborating with a team from Leadership Rhode Island (LRI) to execute her vision of making her hometown of Woonsocket a better place to live and work.

“In today’s fast-paced world, with the challenges our communities face, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the sense of togetherness that ‘the village’ represents. This year, Mariam Kaba, a 17-year-old in Woonsocket, reminded us of the responsibility we all share to ensure that our collective village thrives,” said Michelle Carr, Executive Director, Leadership RI. “Mariam inspired us to envision our communities’ potential and to take action toward positive change and a more flourishing Rhode Island.”

With Mariam’s goal of Restoring of the Village at the forefront, 74 of Rhode Island’s experienced, skilled leaders comprising of LRI’s Tau II class, divided into teams and focused on three areas:

● Job Aid & Improvement
● Bettering Woonsocket
● Community Engagement

“Mariam gave us light to challenges facing Woonsocket’s adolescent youth that need to be sustainably and systematically addressed,” said Meghan Grady, a member of LRI’s Tau II Class. “As a result of our sessions, enhancements and projects we now understand the challenges face our village, the Ocean State, and the opportunities that exist to overcome them.”

Working together with intention, LRI and Mariam addressed systemic challenges in Woonsocket and have begun to create lasting, positive change.

Programming led to significant strides towards restoring the Woonsocket community. They held job fairs, career development workshops, donation drives, financial literacy workshops, events to support small businesses and cleaned up neglected gardens. In less than a year, programming impacted almost 3,000 individuals, built relationships with close to 90 community partners, provided expanded reading resources by securing more than 600 age-appropriate books for the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Rhode Island , increased accessibility to healthy food, mobilized 50 people to take action, and led to creation of nine garden beds which will provide fresh produce in the future..

“My goal was to see a community struggling to feel a sense of hope again,” said Kaba, the first-ever TRIS winner. “Working side by side with Leadership RI and POC we are accomplishing that goal. Seeing my vision of Restoring the Village come to life is impactful.”

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