She Sings Arias. She Speaks Swahili. She’s Nadia!

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You know Aaron, Jake, Katy, and Barak. Now we’d like to introduce you to our classical-singing, Swahili-speaking technical director, Nadia Kist. Although Nadia is a native New Yorker, she’s lived in Nairobi, Kenya, for the last 11 years. During her time there, she has visited 11 countries on the African continent, and learned to speak nearly fluent Swahili!

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While we wish we could see her more frequently, we love it when she puts her awesome photography skills to use, and sends photos of our partners and their work on the ground! And even though she spends the majority of her time on the other side of the globe, we know she’ll always return stateside—her family still lives in the New York house where she was raised.

The great distance is worth it for Nadia though because she is living out her calling of working with communities burdened by HIV/AIDS. She discovered this passion in 1999 when she traveled to East Africa on a mission trip. In the days before ARVs were available, AIDS was claiming the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people daily, and she knew she had to get involved.

At first she wasn’t sure what her work would look like since she is not interested in medicine. However, 16 years later, she remains committed to affecting policy and practice in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, particularly among marginalized groups.

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We are so very grateful for the work Nadia does, her dedication to our partners, and her part in ending the HIV/AIDS crises.

…especially now that we know she was on a very different career path before; one that would have led her to become a classically trained singer of German and Latin arias! She was hesitant to disclose this little tidbit—likely because now she knows she’ll have to sing a little song on our next staff retreat, in addition to cooking one of her fabulous African meals.