The Moja Tu founding board members first visited Kenya in 2012 to inspect a water project located here. One of the first people they met on this trip was James. During this trip, the visitors from the US wanted to know more about the education system in Kenya.
“We discussed the topic at length, and especially the obstacles that many students from low-income families in Kenya face when it comes to accessing education. Many students have to drop out of school after finishing the primary level because of a lack of school fees. This seemed really touch the team members’ hearts,” James recalls.
Moja Tu was formed after this trip, and James became the de facto tour guide for the organization. Beyond this working relationship, James understands from his own experience Moja Tu’s mission of providing educational scholarship to bright children from impoverished backgrounds.
“My father passed on when I was young, and my mother struggled to feed and educate us. She was left with six children to look after. When it proved impossible to educate all of us, three of my sisters had to drop out of school to help my mother on the farm,” James recalls. “Back then, girls’ education was especially discouraged. I am glad to see that things are beginning to change now.”
At the time, all public primary schools had a bursary system called remission. “If you had three children in the same school, the third one would study for free,” James explains. “In our case, we were three: my elder brother, one of my sisters, and I. The free slot fell to me, and that meant that I was supported through school by the bursary system from class three,” he explains.
His problems, however, were far from over. James had to trek long distances to attend class, and he did not have all the supplies needed to succeed in school. Nevertheless, he persevered and worked hard. He posted excellent results in the primary exit exams, which earned him a scholarship with one of the leading high schools in the country.
“After high school, I enrolled at Kenya Utalii College and pursued a Tourism, Tour Guiding, and Management course. I joined the tourism industry in 1987, and I have been in the industry since then. It was in the course of my job that I met the Moja Tu team,” he explains.
James’s journey epitomizes what Moja Tu is doing in the students’ lives in the program – an opportunity to transform their lives through education. As such, James relates to Moja Tu’s work and is more than happy to be part of this transformative journey.
While working with Moja Tu, James says he has also learned a lot about kindness and love.
“I am a product of sponsorship, but it was only financial. I admire the bond the Moja Tu students have with their sponsors. I am amazed at how sponsors take their time to hold Skype calls and write letters to the students. Some even come to visit their students in Kenya!” he exclaims.
James hopes that Moja Tu’s story will inspire people to make a difference in other’s lives and to be agents of change in their communities.