Maureen grew up in Bomet. Her father passed on when she was in class two and the little earning her mother made from growing and selling vegetables and milk, could hardly get them by. “The first transition was transferring from a private to a public school. Life was hard. We didn’t have food, or wear shoes to school,” She says. The sisters in the Catholic school she moved to soon noticed her academic excellence and sponsored her. Then life got better. She focused more on education and passed well enough to join Starehe Girls. “Life was much better in high school,” she says. “Starehe was kind to me. I learnt to stay in course, to be patient and to work hard.” She got an A- (minus) in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). She later joined JKUAT to study Landscape Architect, graduated and now works as a site supervisor with a local firm.
“Was I intelligent enough and worked hard in my school days?” She self-questioned. “Yes. I did. But all I have become is because of KCDF, who came to our school when I was in form two and picked a few of us to attend workshops which taught us various life skills. I think my life started shaping from this point. I started looking at life with a different mirror. These workshops gave me the courage to face life. The other thing that changed my life is my mentor, whom I got under the KCDF/GGBC program. Her name is Vanessa and she is based in New York. She is amazing. She is like a sister, a mother and a friend all rolled into one,” She shares.
Maureen talks about her mentor and it is easy to see why. They speak all the time. She has shaped her life, her thinking and her career. “Before I make any important decision, I have to seek her perspective because she always makes me see things differently. I’m so blessed to have her,” she says. However, Vanessa does not offer straight solutions. She lets her make the final decision by asking questions like, “what do you feel about that? Why do you think that happened? What does your instinct tell you to do at this point? What is your greatest fear at this point? “It’s only after they have talked about it, and what she thinks she should do, that she will weigh in her opinion. I think she is amazing.” She speaks.
She knows that she is lucky to have her mentor in her corner. “I feel like there is nothing I can’t tackle in life with Vanessa being just a phone-call or email away,” she offers. And because of this fruitful relationship, Maureen felt the need to mentor and inspire other girls who do not have access to mentorship like she does.
Currently, she mentors with a group called The Malikia Mentorship Program. They mentor girls at AIC Kajiado. “These are Maasai girls who have been rescued from early marriages and FGM. Most of these girls have low self-esteem and it is our job to talk to them and raise their confidence again. It gives me great joy to see how we help build and grow their confidence and dignity. For me that’s how life should work - when someone holds your hand, you have to hold another person’s hand and that way, we create a big strong ring.”