BREAKING THE BARRIERS
This is what happened to me. I grew up in an average family in a small farm in Buuri constituency Meru County.
When I was two years old, I was left under the care of my grandmother Jennifer” May God rest her Soul in peace “and my mother went to get married to another person who was not my biological father. As a little girl then, it did not occur to me that my mother had gone to start a new life elsewhere and I had my grandmother to cater for me. After all as a child that young, you hardly know nothing about proper setting of a modern family.
It took about six years for my mother to settle and probably agree with her husband that I should join them in their new home and henceforth live together as a family. I recall seeing my mother once in those six years when she attended a funeral of my great grandmother who lived with us. I was about five years then. As fate would have it, I joined my mother and her new family. I was about eight years by this time and she already was blessed with two sons (my step brothers) aged five and three years old. It is at this point I realized I was in a whole new setting (family) from what I was used to for seven years. (Living with my grandmother).
In 1988, my sister was born and now our family was growing by day. My step father worked with Kenya Wildlife Service and was earning a normal salary for a modern day then. My mother stayed home to care for the home and at the same time work in the fields to provide for the immediate needs of the family. It’s of importance to note that our father worked away from home and it would take him about 3 months before visiting the family.
About this time my mother had to shift from the place she had known as home and had to move back to her parents’ home to seek for refuge as her in-laws did not want anything to do with her. I will spare you the details. If you live in Africa and more so in Kenya, you must know the drama that comes with in-laws. We settled in a piece of land provided by my grandparents, we built a new home here and we also had to change schools because of the distance. Life moved on and our to-be last born sister was born. It was until three years again later when our parents bought land not so far from where we lived. Again we shifted and settled permanently, the place where we now call home or (Ushago) if you like.
ODDS TO STRENGTHEN YOU
Life went on and it was time for me to join high school in 1998. I had passed my primary school exams with flying colors as per the standards of then. I joined Kaaga Girls High School in Meru. For those who know this school very well, it was regarded highly because of its high standards in terms of learning and students performance.
My life in high school was not very smooth. I remember in form two I missed two terms of school because of lack of school fees. We were five children in my family and all in school at different levels. At this time we had barely enough to cater for all our schooling and all other needs of the family. Despite many days at home in form two, I knew I would have to finish high school and join University/College for my life to change.
My mother was very determined to see that I get back to school. Therefore, she somehow managed to raise the school fees required for me to go back to school and boom! I returned to school. Most of friends I knew back in primary school had dropped out of school for either lack of school fees or had joined some bad company that led to early pregnancies for girls or boys who had sunk deep into alcoholism and drugs.
I knew I had to be different and make my parents proud. Luckily I loved school and books, so I put my best foot forward and decided that I had to defy the odds. I knew that if I had to be a barrier- breaker, I had to get rid of excuses and thinking about what I didn’t get, what I can’t get or how the odds were against me. I and God were a majority. I had what I needed. Time went by so quickly and in 2001 by the grace of God I cleared high school without any fees balance and had passed my exams.
During my time, it was common for any form four leaver to either join relatives/friends in the city of Nairobi if you had any or if you were lucky enough you would join some computer school/Driving school to keep yourself engaged before your admission to University/College came by.
Despite the fact that I had so many relatives in the big city, I did not join them nor did I engage myself with any further developments. Not that I did not want but money was of essence here. Every penny had to be saved for me to join University/College. Therefore I stayed home with my mother that whole year (2002) and helped to manage a canteen/restaurant that she was running. In high school I was a commerce student and hence business and management was something I was too familiar with.
At 19 years, most of my village mates (Girls) had either fallen pregnant and were young mothers or had completely fallen off-course and were engaged in more serious addictions. Those that were “chosen” (for lack of a better word) like me were still waiting to join institutions of higher learning or just there waiting for God to reveal their next course.
My interest was to join a business school and pursue an Accounting Course. I kept on waiting and waiting. My favorite scripture was found in Isaiah 40: “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint” As a nineteen-year-old, I had a spirit of faith. I believed that I could defy the odds.
In January 2004, I joined Kenya College of Accountancy, today known as KCA University to study Accounting. Here I am in a big City, all by my own, no parental supervision, “I mean I am my own boss now!” My parents decided that I should stay in a hostel while I pursued my studies just to ensure that I had maximum time to concentrate on my school work. After all accounting is not an easy course for those that know and understand what it means to sit a KASNEB exam.
Here now I met friends in college and outside of college. Some were from rich families, poor families and others like me were here to curve a notch for themselves. It’s here that you decide what you want for yourself. It really took me time to settle down. I mean being in the city with all these friends and lots of freedom was something that took me a while to digest and realize that I had to choose a path to follow.
Time passed very fast and my fast year in college was up. By this time I had acquired a certificate in accounting called KATC (Kenya Accounting Technician Course.) Nowadays I understand it has been renamed to something else. With this certificate I could now go out and get an entry level job in the market in any institution. Like I have mentioned financing of my studies was not an easy task for my parents. At this time I was required to pay the hostel fee monthly and at the same time pay for my tuition fees at KCA University.
It was not easy going through my first year in college. I had to return home in Meru numerous times to collect the fees required. Mpesa was not founded by this time. So please spare me the many questions. I could stay home several weeks before my mother could gather enough for me to return to Nairobi. I remember one time I went home and stayed for two months, and remember exams were done every after three months. This was the last term of my first year in College. I vowed that I would never go back to Meru, unless I had bus fare to take me back when I needed. By this time I had established few contacts that I would reach out to for help if things were that bad.
By this time, equipped with my KATC Certificate, I decided to run my own race. Many of my friends of course came from well up families and even others chose to get “Sponsors” to finance their lives. I knew I had to do something too to improve on my finances and life too. God is so faithful I got a job as a receptionist/cashier in some computer repair shop along the famous Kirinyaga road in Nairobi. My pay was meagre but it was something altogether at this time. Competing with anyone at this time was not the right thing for me because I knew if I start competing with people I will get distracted and lose focus, and before long I will be wasting time on things that are not moving me towards my purpose. Someone said, “Successful people are so focused on their own goals that they don’t have time to look around to see what everybody else is doing” I ran my own race and when somebody passed me by, I wasn’t intimidated. I got inspired because I knew if God did it for them, he can do it for me too.
FINDING YOUR PURPOSE
This small job meant the world to me at this time. At least it was enough to pay for my hostel and a few personal needs. My Mother had other of my siblings to cater for considering they had also advanced in school and needed quite a lot in terms of financing their schooling at different levels. I asked her to stop paying my fees and concentrate on my other siblings. I put my studies at KCA University to a halt and continued working. I would barely manage to pay my hostel fee and a few personal effects for the next two years.
I knew I would get a better paying job so that I could get back to school and complete my course in Accounting. I must confess that during this time, I felt depressed, rejected and as if things were never going to change for me. I had the urge to go back to school to complete my course but money was such a big issue. Remember now I was living in Nairobi and there were all these pressures that came with it. I felt beaten. I knew I had to get out of this. I am a prayerful person and I kept on asking God when things were going to get better for me. I surrounded myself with people who spoke of hope. By the way you need to be careful about whom you surround yourself with, especially in difficult times. You may have an illness, but don’t go find other sick people to hang around. Misery loves company. If you are struggling with something, don’t hang around with people who are also struggling. This is only going to get you stuck. If you are depressed, don’t go for five other depressed friends so you all can be depressed together. Find people who have what you want. If you are struggling with finances like I was, get around blessed people, generous people who are well off. There should be something about you that says “I want a better life”
I kept on believing and hoping for a better tomorrow. One day lady luck came knocking at my door. I had been very active in looking out for positions that suited my qualifications and paid better for my level of experience. I interviewed for a position I was called for and God is gracious I was hired to fill the position.
I enrolled back to school to continue with my studies. I was now able to pay for my upkeep and at the same time study. It took me 3 years to achieve this and get on track again. It would have been easy to give up and say that it will never get better. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself in situations where if feels as though the odds are against you. You don’t see a way out of your problem. There is no logical solution to your problem. God put you there on purpose so that when he turns it around, nobody else will get the glory but him alone. When your circumstances seem impossible, instead of being discouraged, leave it up for the Lord. You are in perfect position for God to show out in your life. He is amazing. I can attest to this. He has been faithful.
Now with my new income, I managed to study and attained a CPA (K) status. This is a certification given by ICPAK after successfully completing all examinations for six sections divided into three major parts examined by KASNEB. I am not here to brag, but this is not a simple accolade in the accountancy profession. It takes hard work, determination and focus and the intervention of the almighty God to achieve this status.
So don’t be fooled by all the odds. Know who you are. It will help you to stay focused because there will always be pressures to be this and that. Everyone will have opinions about you, but down in your heart you know who you are. You can’t let the pressures of life squeeze you into becoming something you are not. Of course you need to connect with the Devine to find your purpose. It’s possible, do not underestimate the power and strength in you.
MOVING TO THE NEXT LEVEL
By the time I completed my CPA (K), I had already met my husband and my son Ryan had been born. Two years post that, my son Robin was born too. I knew I had so much potential and wanted to study a Bachelor’s Degree at some point. Now, I was a mother of two sons and also had a full time job as an Accountant. Responsibilities had doubled for me. However, in 2014 I went back to school to study a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. I had to encourage myself into doing this because I knew what I wanted and the life changing opportunities this would come with. I must admit that this was not a mean feat. Juggling between school, work and taking care of my young family demanded a lot of commitment and strength.
God is awesome. When he created you, He put in you everything you need to fulfill your destiny. God is a strategic God. He’s not random nor did he just create you without a plan. He’s intentional down to the smallest detail. He knew what you would need and what would take to get you there. He gave you the talent that you need, the creativity and strength, and fully equipped you for the race that he designed for you. You have to stop all the excuses and focus on what God has given you. Push yourself to the limit every time you feel like nothing is working to your favor. God knows exactly how to push you to the next level.
While studying my undergraduate, it felt like I was never going to make it. It demanded a lot of planning in terms of finances, time and commitment. Has fate would have it, I graduated on 27th of November 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree (Finance) from KCA University.
They say “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” I started and I made it.
I have done things before and felt very proud of myself but this was one of my greatest achievements. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree made me realize that really there is no limit to what God can do in our lives.
My life so far has been a roller coaster. Many challenges but somehow I managed to get through them all. I have learnt to be patient with God and myself. I always ask God to guide me, and I have learnt to trust him because I know that that the plans he has for me are of prosperity. As is, it’s already too difficult to thrive as a young person in an environment where the oldies are not giving you a chance. You need a strategic plan, stick to it, and commit it to God. If you want to try this, please go ahead. It has been tested and proven to work. If anyone holds you against it I will be there to testify. I am a testimony of what God can do if you trust him.
OWNING YOUR SPACE
I am a mother of 2 young boys and a kick-ass wife to a man who makes it worth. I got married at a time in my life when so much was going on. Where did time go? It has been twelve years in this journey. (12!!!)
My family during a recent visit to the coast (Mombasa, Kenya)
If I say that the twelve years in marriage have been easy, then I will be lying to you. However, I can teach you one or two things about marriages. Like they say, “marriage is not a bed of roses.” It’s neither for the feeble. You need to recognize that it’s an institution and requires lots of commitment and good will from all the parties.
For anyone willing to retain a healthy marriage, I will highly recommend the below actions. Please note that this is my own story and not anyone else.
- Spend time with each other. Married partners need time together in order to grow strong. Don’t allow room for distance.
- Learn to negotiate conflicts. In marriage, couples argue over something to nothing. Be the one to compromise for the sake of peace and co-existence
- Show respect for each other at all times. Say thank you for the little things.
- Learn about yourself first. Sometimes we are too fast to condemn our partners without realizing that we are actually the problem.
- Explore intimacy. Don’t be a boring spouse
- Explore common interests. Realize what your partner loves doing, support them by involving yourself in it.
- Create a spiritual connection. Always pray for your spouse. This could be the only thing they need to that big break.
- Improve your communication skills.
- Take care of your appearance. It’s not for you but for your partner. It saves.
I am in no way a marriage counselor, but in all this I am trying to show you that you can be absolutely anything you want to be or do. Whatever it may be, you must step out and boldly pursue it. Keep reminding yourself that you have tremendous reservoirs of potential within you, and therefore you are quite capable of doing almost anything, “set your mind to” All you must do is figure out how you can do it. Be a risk taker and take a step of faith.
I have been intending to enroll for a Master’s Degree in a foreign university, precisely in the United States. You might wonder whether I know what this means. Don’t worry, I am perfectly aware that I need a visa, finances and also very well aware that my family needs me. I have a young family that needs my presence all the time.
Not only do I trust in Gods ways, but I also trust in his timing. I have processed the necessary paper work and I am set to relocate to the United States with my family this fall. Since I completed my undergraduate in 2017, I have had to sacrifice a lot, just preparing for this moment. I am a believer of “where you start is not important. Where you finish is what matters.” You have to own your space firmly, and let nobody tell you otherwise. I am work in progress, and I believe I can do great things.
I hope my little story can encourage you to make good choices and to know that you have too much potential within you. Be mindful that every adversity, and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.