Esther: “My heart was always in community development”

What most people don’t know about me is that I’m a fully trained engineer, but I veered off that path to pursue that which sets my heart on fire – working with underprivileged children in the slums of Nairobi.

I studied telecommunications and information engineering for five years but only practised for two years. My parents initially thought working with children was just a hobby- something I did with my spare time, but slowly realized and accepted the gradual shift in career. I have always had a passion for working with children and at the back of my mind, I knew that was where my true purpose lay. While I was still a 21-year old student, I gathered a few of my friends around Christmas time and we decided to be good neighbours to the orphanage that was close to our university. This orphanage exposed us to a world that was very different from ours and we realised that there was an even greater need than we had initially imagined and that we could do more for not just the children here, but for more children across the country. From this charitable endeavour is where the idea of Star Kids initiative was born and the dream to take it even further was conceived. Eventually, I decided to leave the engineering world because my heart was not in it, my heart was always in community development, in working with kids and empowering them to be the best version of themselves.

I truly believe that the future of anything is in the next generation. Star Kids initiative was then founded in 2013 to empower children from underprivileged backgrounds through mentorship and providing scholarships. We partner with schools in the informal settlements to work with children who have dropped out of school for various reasons such as lack of school fees, substance abuse etc. and we educate them and provide scholarships to enable them to go back to school full time. We also provide mentorship to the kids.   We realised early on that a lot of the children believe they cannot get out of the cycle of poverty that they were born into – we aim to show them that they can and to empower them with the skills they need to break out of this cycle.  For them to contribute meaningfully to the society they live in.

It has only been slightly more than a year since I made that full transition and there is not a single day that I have regretted it. There is a sense of fulfilment that you cannot find if you do not pursue what you love. I find pure joy and fulfilment in doing what I do. We have so much more potential than we think we have as human beings to help each other. As we go through life in our societies, our aim should be to help the person next to us and that is what I’d encourage anyone out there to do – be a helping hand to your neighbour. My faith also plays a big part in my life and the direction of my work. I strongly believe that imparting children with Christian values and bringing them up in an upright way is a powerful testament for the world.

I love this quote by Mother Theresa – ‘’If everyone cleaned the front of their doorstep, then the whole world would be clean,’’ – and that is what I would urge everyone to do.

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