As Lupita Nyongó once said “no matter where we come from our dreams are valid”. Being a village girl from pastoralist background I never believed that one day my dream of visiting United States of America will come true. I come from a small village called Torbi in Marsabit County in Northern part of Kenya,
I’m a last born in a family of nine and the only educated child upto the university level. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Kenya Methodist University.
My leadership journey started way back in Torbi primary school where I was a class prefect from class four to class six, deputy head girl in class seven and school head girl in class eight. I later joined Moi girls’ secondary school in Marsabit where I was appointed dorm captain in form one and two, deputy head girl in form three and head girl in form four.
For my undergraduate studies I joined Kenya Methodist University, and as well I joined student politics where I was elected as Secretary General of the students union for two years representing five different campuses. While in campus I also took part in the first ever Kenyan reality TV show called EXPEDITION representing my university, where two student leaders from 24 different universities in Kenya took part in leadership competition and I won the symbolic leadership torch. On the other hand while in the University I held several different leadership positions in various clubs such as,
- KeMU Nursing Students Association (KENSA).
- KeMU Campaign against drug abuse (KEMUCADA).
- Kemu Young Catholics Association (YCA)
- Kemu Red Cross members and others.
In 2013 I joined a new venture of leadership in the field of modelling to represent my county in a national modelling competition called Miss Tourism Kenya. I won two titles at the County level;
Miss Confidence and Miss Marsabit County, at the national level it was a competition between 47 counties. It was a tough competition among 43 smart models representing their counties, I was the only one from northern Kenya counties since Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir and Garisa didn’t participate. This was because Cushitic communities perceived modelling as an immorality from time immemorial, but I had to go against all the odds to give it a try to represent my county in the national modelling competition. During the final event I won two national titles, Miss Tourism Kenya Peace and Miss Tourism Kenya Investment 2013/2014. The two prestigious national titles put my county of Marsabit in the map because of the fact that it was the only Northern County that had representation.
With my titles I started an initiative called PAPA (Pads and panties), donation of sanitary pads and panties to village school girls in Marsabit County. This was an initiative to keep girls in school to avoid them drop out of school due to lack of basic necessities like sanitary pads. The initiative grew bigger and I had to form an organization called Qabale Duba Foundation (www.qabale.org) so that we could tackle different programs to empower pastoralist girls and women. Our programs included;
- Girls/Women empowerment through PAPA,
- Maternal health, Education,
- Campaign against harmful cultural practices and peace initiatives.
An opportunity came up in 2015 when a friend sent me a link to apply for a leadership program in America called Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). I didn’t have much information about the program by then but from the requirements I found out that I could qualify for it since I hadbeen doing initiatives to change the lives of pastoralists’ girls and women in a small way that I could. I applied for the program which was very competitive using my mobile phone and luckily out of over 7000 applicants in Kenya I was selected to be among the 60 finalists who made it to be the YALI fellows of 2016. The fellowship took place in United State of America where the selected 1000 Young African Leaders from all over the African Continent were placed in 40 different best Universities in America for the six weeks leadership program. I was lucky to be placed in one of the best known public management university in State called Syracuse University, New York. The fellowship ended with a Presidential summit in Washington DC where fellows were addressed by President BARACK OBAMA.
As Albert Einstein said “In the Middle of every Difficulty lies an Opportunity“,so grab any opportunity that will make you learn and grow.Remember your Network is your Networth and our opportunities define our lives even the missed ones.