Your success is not determined by your background, your success is determined by what you believe in and how hard you work to achieve your dreams.
— Doris Mugambi

Whenever I meet girls or young women from underprivileged backgrounds, I am quick to state and emphasize that their success is not defined by their socio-economic background. Their success is determined by what they believe in and how hard they work to achieve their dreams. I have a deep and personal appreciation for affirmation, and have made it part of my being, to ensure that I encourage and let every little growing soul know that she or he can make it.. You would be surprised what a simple very good! or well done would make to a child.

My appreciation for these words comes from my own personal journey and struggles, where I had to motivate and believe in myself. Simply because I had very few or none at all of these words said to me. I was orphaned at an early age which meant that I had to fend for myself and had no one to give me these words of encouragement. In fact, to many of my neighbors young and old, I and my siblings had earned a direct birthright to the cycles of poverty. And the society rubbed it in so deep, that it was engrained into my mind that because of parents’ absence I had to resign myself to a life of struggle; struggle for a meal, to attend the schools I desired, to wear a nice dress like any other girl did. Worse still, as a girl I was more vulnerable to early child marriage, sexual abuse and prostitution that was highly practiced in coastal region where I grew up. Every day was scary to face.

But in the midst of all the discouragement, I found hope and strongly believed that education was my saving grace, that if I acquired education I would achieve my desires and things would fall into place. I found more inspiration watching television programs that exposed me to a different world. I desired to express and speak like the actors and actresses from my favorite programs. I wrote every word I did not understand, checked it in the dictionary and practiced to use it until it stuck in my mind.

My desire for this acted life on TV programs would not allow me to bow to challenges. Thoughts of me getting married at an early age for example, which many of my neighbors proposed as an avenue to save me and my siblings from sinking deeper into poverty had no room to settle in my mind.

So I worked hard and my good performance in school in both primary and secondary school caught the attention of my school teachers. This motivated them to ensure I remained in school even when I did not have the money or means to cover my fees. And so the sun shone on me, and I managed to get into college. Here I met great mentors who encouraged and believed in me.

Today I look back and attribute my success to my mentors. They have made me stronger and smarter. I am acquiring education that I desired as a little girl. My childhood struggles as a girl and a young woman encourage me to hold a sister’s hand. My desire is to share my story and journey, as a living example that you can achieve your dreams in spite of the obstacles you face. Akili Dada shares my personal goal and I am motivated to join a team with similar passion. There is no good leader like a leader who understands and shares the struggles of her followers. And these are the leaders Akili Dada is nurturing

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