My name is Rosemary Njeri. I was born in 1993, as the first born of three children. I grew up in Wangige Lower Kabete, which is on the outskirts of Nairobi. Over the past couple of years, my Mum has been the sole breadwinner for our family, having to pay our school fees and taking care of all the expenses of the family.
Growing up was not easy, my parents had a small hostel, which burned down completely when I was in class six, and that is when the real struggle began. I remember when I finished my primary school final exams, I had performed very well and we were at a family gathering. One of my aunties said something that has since stuck with me. She mentioned that her son had not performed well in his primary school final exams, but nevertheless, he could enter high school because they could cover his school fees. It was very painful, but it was the truth because high school is not free in Kenya.
I applied to high school none the less and the day I was accepted into Kijabe Girls’ Secondary School I rejoiced. However, I was brought back to earth with the reality that there was no way my family could afford the school fees, let alone the requirements.
A friend of my mother visited and told us about a scholarship at St. Martin’s Secondary School in the Kibagare Slum. My Mum took a loan from a Chama to get me what I needed to get started. Unluckily, after admission, I found out that I did not get the scholarship we had hoped for. It was a struggle, but somehow we managed through the grace of God. Unfortunately, at the beginning of every term, as my school fees were paid late, I was sent home. This is when the school bursar took notice of our situation. They called my Mum and helped us secure a scholarship. It was more than I could ever ask for.
In July 2010, I was selected to join the Global Give Back Circle. I was in my last year of high school. I was immediately matched to a mentor, Angela Harris, a Senior Learning and Development Program Manager at Microsoft from Seattle, Washington in the USA. She has been the most amazing gift in my life. She helped me make sensible career choices, guided me in my Give Back Commitment, and when I almost gave up, she was always there to pick me up and give me just one more reason why I should never do so. She has been more than a mentor; she’s a big sister, and almost a mom. She plays all those roles in my life. She is God-sent and a wonderful woman. She has been my best friend, who somehow understands me, even before I can figure out what’s happening. I am one of the lucky ones, my mentor actually traveled all the way to Kenya to visit me. Imagine that.
Upon graduation, I learned that I would receive a scholarship from the MasterCard Foundation and Microsoft for a 9-month ICT Lab. I was told I would have a chance to study windows 7 configuration and CCNA. Math and logistics came easy to me, so I was very eager to learn about the world of computers and technology.
The ICT courses opened me to a totally new world that I am still exploring. The skills and all the sessions have been the most amazing thing, and have contributed to the confident and responsible person I am today. I am just about to complete my BS Degree in applied statistics and computing from Karatina University. This amazing scholarship came from the people from the United States of America through the organization USAID Kenya. I love statistics and I love computing. I would never have aimed so high had my confidence not been built up so during the ICT Lab.
For the last two years my Give Back Commitment has been about restoring hope. I have focused on people with the same problems I had while growing up. I help students acquire scholarships from the same organization that helped me when I was in high school. I also mentor these same students and I visit their schools and family, just to get an overview of how they are doing in general. It has been a very motivating journey to see someone having hope again, and I hope that with time I will be able to expand and help more kids with scholarships. I am now working on registering my Charity-Based Organization in order to be able to reach more students and also get more funds for their studies.
I am passionate about empowering young people. I believe in “Education for all, but especially for girls.” Communities need to be enlightened on how they can balance youth empowerment, without taking for granted any specific gender. I am grateful for KCDF for implementing the Circle in Kenya. The Circle has been a great community; it brings several people from different backgrounds together to break the circle of poverty.