Muanzo Mpya’s founder, Eunice Akoth, was born in Raila, one of Kibera’s thirteen villages; she had three siblings. Her eldest sister, Caroline, lived with her grandmother and helped farm, so Eunice did not meet her until 4th Grade, when Caroline moved back home and got married. Eunice was particularly close to her brother, John, who was extremely involved in the community and inspired her to start Muanzo Mpya. Eunice attended Kibera School for Girls (KSG) through secondary school, toward the end of which she started studying for the culminating exam of every Kenyan student’s career: the Kenya Certificate in Secondary Education (KCSE). Years previous, she met a representative from Miss Porter’s School at a conference and visited boarding schools around Connecticut on her recommendation. When Eunice scored highly on the KCSE and got a scholarship to Miss Porter’s, she had to make a decision. Knowing she would miss the culture of her hometown but also empowered by her community’s support, Eunice accepted Miss Porter’s offer.
When she first got to Farmington, Eunice was shocked by the luxury and privilege that surrounded her. In freshman year, she had trouble connecting with her peers. She felt uncomfortable speaking English 24/7, and people made assumptions about Africa, asking her if she rode an elephant to school, and, time and time again, she had to explain that countries in Africa are just as developed as the U.S., except for the higher poverty rates. Going back to Kibera over the summer gave her the opportunity to reconnect with her culture, and, by fall, she was convinced to change her attitude toward studying abroad. In tenth grade, she opened up to her friends about her roots, but the year was cut short due to COVID-19. The sixth months Eunice spent in Kibera after that she describes as the “best six months of [her] life.” She started to wonder how she could merge her two worlds and came up with Muanzo Mpya, which she and her friends started just over a year ago. She is proud of what they have accomplished so far and is thankful to everyone for believing in her and the organization. She says the next steps for Muanzo Mpya are allocating scholarships, ensuring its longevity (despite many of its volunteers moving for college), and registering it as a non-profit.