Growing up in a mud house without electricity in Kenya, 19-year-old Mumbi faced many challenges. She was unable to do her homework in comfort, and there were times when she did not even do her homework because the price of kerosene was beyond the reach of her parents who relied on menial jobs for a living. At times, she developed watery eyes as a result of the hazardous soot emitted by the kerosene tin lamps that they used at night. This painful experience led her to want to seek a solution – she wanted to be an electrical engineer when she grew up. Unfortunately as she grew older, many naysayers discouraged her saying that engineering was for boys not for girls and that she could not make it. For a while, she believed them and she almost gave up on her dream. But then, she decided to turn to her sponsor of over 11 years for advice.
“I wrote to my sponsor telling her about my dream to be an engineer and the challenges I was facing. Her response is what reignited my passion and made me decide that nothing would hold me back. She told me to believe in myself and to follow my dreams no matter what. Those words have stayed with me ever since. She made me believe that my dreams were valid.” Mumbi says.
Last year, Mumbi finished high school, she is now enrolled in a youth polytechnic where she is pursuing a certificate course in electrical installation. So far, with the help of her tutors, she has designed a solar powered lamp that she uses to power up her home. “This solar lamp is my first project, not my last. It is a sign of bigger and better things to come,” she says.
Mumbi’s education from primary school, high school and now college was possible through the support of her sponsors, who have been with her since she was 7 years old in grade 2. Through their support, Mumbi’s family, including her mother, father and four siblings, has also received additional support including; school uniforms, regular medical checkups, roofing iron sheets to renovate their old house, a donkey to help fetch water from the river and training on various income generating activities.
“I want to make the world a better place. I want to provide solutions to the problems facing many families in Africa. Every house should have decent lighting. Thanks to my sponsor, I believe I am on my way to being a renowned female social innovator. I am so grateful to my sponsor for all the support and pray that God will bless her and her family.” Mumbi concludes.
Over the years, Mumbi’s sponsors have corresponded regularly with her, sending letters, photos and birthday cards. She has kept all the letters she has received over the years and says they are her daily source of hope and inspiration.