I was born on 11th November in Githogoro, Kenya, as the third child in a family of five. My parents lived in Githogoro for many years and were both laborers in the coffee estates that surrounded the region. It was a task that did not require any credentials, therefore a job that attracted the most underprivileged.
When I was eight, my mum died from an unknown disease. My two elder brothers, Nicholas and Phanuel were in classes three and four, respectively, while the two younger siblings, Freedom and Philip, were in pre-school at the time. It was apparent that my parents valued education and took initiative to ensure all of us attended school. From what I remember, life was relatively good until Mom passed away.
Following Mum’s burial, things took a negative twist. Dad bore the sole responsibility of fending for all five of us from a daily wage of KES 90 (slightly under $1), which was hardly sufficient to place a single meal on the table. Basic items such as clothing became a luxury alongside anything else. A day with one meal was considered an extremely good one.
Because of the intensified hardships, my four siblings and I dropped out of school. Each turning to the endless search for a meal. The ‘meals’ were scavenged from the garbage bags of the neighboring affluent Runda suburb residences. Dad spent a lot of time away from home, sometimes taking a week searching for something. His prolonged absence gave us children a lot of freedom to do whatever we wished. There were disappointing times when he came back home empty handed. This got us even more desperate. The street life became normal, until four years later, when the government of Kenya introduced free primary school education.
I had grown taller than my peers. My stature gave the impression that I was older than I really was, so I was not placed in the class where I deserved to be. The school authorities did not care whether or not we would catch up with the rest of the children who had been in school. The objective was to ensure that children went through the system, irrespective of performance. On the other hand, the school provided lunch—beans and corn—and that was a great incentive for us. We ate us much as we could at school because supper back at home was never guaranteed.
I managed to get a B+ average by the time I finished class eight. I actually qualified for admission at a national category high school. I yearned to go, but my dad’s salary would not meet the cost required for school fees. At the realization that I could not afford school fees, I despaired of ever attending high school and joined my brother in collecting scrap metals and used plastics for recycling, which we sold to get ourselves simple meals.
Not long after, Dad came home with some news of a high school that was being started in the neighboring Huruma village. He informed my brother Nicholas and I that he wanted us to join. Even thought I knew there was no way he could afford the secondary education fee, I decided to check it out and visited the school. Many who had been out of school for years and could not afford the secondary education were interested when it was confirmed that the school was offering free education. This was music to our ears! The only requirement was for students to bring to school a bundle of firewood for cooking of our lunch. I was in high school at New Dawn Educational Centre with no fees required, no school uniform necessary and as if that was not enough, there was free lunch provided. A miracle of miracles!
It did not matter that the classroom was a bare-floored church hall made from rusty iron sheets. The same hall served as a classroom on one end and a staff room on the other end. We sat on benches without any writing space. Our laps served us well. Despite the fact that there were not enough qualified teachers (most were volunteers), we were proud students who were eager to learn and had the opportunity. That was all that mattered.
My experience at New Dawn transformed me totally. I came in hopeless, but I was filled with hope. We found a mum in Mama Irene, the school director. She was so assuring that a lot of good would come out of our lives. Mama Irene ensured that we received a holistic education; intellectually as per the curriculum, socially by meaningful and impactful interaction amongst ourselves and the community around, as well as spiritually through the word of God. We had regular devotions and sessions of what was known as ‘vision conferences’. These spiritual forums provided opportunity to be affirmed and assured of God’s love and purpose for our lives. Our confidence was boosted and the sense of hopelessness gradually faded away. Where else would students be treated to good meals and even offered food to carry home for the next meal for the family? We were loved.
The love of God was so evident at New Dawn; I decided to give my life to Jesus Christ. For the first time, I felt whole. How I thank God for having denied me resources to join a fancy national school, just to have a chance to be at this place where he used circumstances to show that He truly exists! Like His word says, God raises His own from humble beginnings and makes them kings. This became a reality not only for me, but I can also testify to the fact that none of the students in my class left New Dawn the way they came in. Thanks be to God who was the real founder of a school in close proximity to these two villages, in the right time, to transform many lives.
To my greatest amazement, upon completion of high school, I topped my class and qualified to join public university. By this time, I had matured and made much progress in my walk with Christ. New Dawn had taught me how to relate to God as my father and therefore I enjoyed a great son-Father relationship. I stayed home another year due to lack of fees to pay for university. This time was different, however, in that I did not engage in hustlers’ businesses but volunteered to teach at New Dawn, as I trusted God to come through.
Mama Irene contacted me with grand news: a donor had showed up and was willing to pay the university fees for anyone qualified to join university from our class! God again provided the resources in my time of need.
I was enrolled in a five-year degree course at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geomantic Engineering and Geospatial Information Systems. All this was accomplished with the help of that scholarship.
Today I can confidently stand and say that if it were not for the Lord on my side, I could be nothing. I appreciate God’s work through the ministry of New Dawn and all those who contributed towards the transformed life that has become mine. You did it not only for me but for the many others that have walked along the same path. My journey has brought me to a point where I desire to sow the same love I have received. I believe that God will enable me to transform another life. To give them a chance to be loved, to be thought of, and to be considered. I want to educate a needy person all the way through university, as was done for me at New Dawn, because I believe God would have me do it.
Give me bread today and tomorrow I will ever be at your door knocking, but give me education, the key to life, and you will have transformed the world.