Growing up in an underprivileged community was not always easy. However, my experiences, both good and bad, have taught me the best of life’s lessons and made me appreciate all of the little things that each day has to offer.
Coming from a family of four children was difficult at times with my parents working all day to provide for my siblings and me. My mother maintained seven different jobs, from cleaning homes to carrying bricks and water on her head for construction jobs; my father worked in multiple construction sites. Regardless of how much effort they put in, their wage was never guaranteed and when they were paid, my parents usually made under $2 a day. With having to pay rent, electric bills, school fees, home utilities, and more, sometimes there wasn’t even food on the table. On these tough nights, my mother would boil hot water for us to drink to help us feel as though our stomachs were not empty. Whenever we were struggling, our community always helped us rise back up, whether it be by sharing food or just providing a shoulder to lean on. The youth of Kibera experience the harsh realities of life through these unthinkable moments, causing us to be wise beyond our years. Because we have already experienced the worst of what life has to offer, we focus on the bright side and hope for a brighter future.
Living in Kibera has allowed me to grow and learn, and has taught me so many lessons I cherish. Even in the worst of situations, the community stays positive and urges one another to live each day with hope and love. As I walk around Kibera, my eyes bounce across the many laughing and smiling faces, and I find myself smiling along with them all: the energy is contagious.
In 2015, my life changed completely when I went on my first trip to the United States to speak at the Women In the World Summit. This first trip gave me my wings, and it was heartwarming to see that during my performance, over 250,000 streams were coming in from Kenya. My community and country were supporting me from across the world. I feel so fortunate to be able to travel across the globe and speak my truth. Then, in 2018, I received a full scholarship to attend Miss Porter’s School, an all-girls boarding school in Farmington, Connecticut. I am so grateful for all of my experiences, but not everyone is as fortunate as I have been. Every time I return to Kibera, I am again faced with the everyday struggle of a common citizen. Despite this, when I look around, all I see are hope-filled faces.
When most people think of a slum, like Kibera, they often think of a place full of poverty where people have no hope for the future and are in need of rescue. This notion, however, is not accurate. What my community needs is a safe space, a place that does not judge people for where they come from, but rather celebrates what people are capable of. When I look at Kibera, I see bright youth full of potential and hope: the only thing hindering them is opportunity. It is our mission as Muanzo Mpya to share the stories of these youth, and be a light they need in the world.
Learn more about what makes Kibera special here:
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Link to GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/224dcac6
Link to the Future Stars website: https://www.chaffinch.org.uk/future-stars-kibera/