You can never build your world on your own.
I had this quote printed on an A3 poster in my house to remind me every day that there is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.
The truth of the matter is that when we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, we all feel blessed. It is a mutual feeling.
A mentor of mine once told me that you have not lived a day until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. “That is the biggest reward here on earth,” she said.
And that became the principle of my life to date – bringing people together to build a camaraderie that makes us lift each other up as brothers and sisters.
My name is Joshua. I was born in Kakamega. I was born for society. You see back at home in our early days, a son was for the community.
Whenever you showed the signs of success back at the junior level, everyone called you their own. And in return, you called them your parents. So you ended up having like a lot of fathers and mothers, haha. Everyone would bless you on the way.
They would all reprimand you when you go wrong and celebrate every little milestone. There was a time everyone even wanted me to marry their daughters. You become the apple of their eyes. You are the testament to success and the example they give their children.
“Soma kwa bidii kama mtoto wa nani, unaona ameenda university uko Nairobi. (Study had like someone’s son. See they have been enrolled at a university in Nairobi).
So, there was always this kind of pressure weighing down on your shoulder to succeed. You had to make it for your parents, for society. I grew up in a well-off family. I never lacked, but I knew the pains other families were going through. Thus it was always my desire to ensure I give back to society.
In Nairobi, I was always the link person for my community, hosting those who visit the city for studies or for work. Assisting others to find a matatu terminus in the city, assisting them to apply for jobs and many more roles.
The truth is I benefited more than those I served as I learnt the ropes of life. Some run to you for advice. From careers to pursue, marriage, relationships, and break-ups, to life goals such as investment projects. Thus during my days on campus, I balanced both politics (student leadership) and my projects. For I wanted to change society for the better.
I almost gave up on my e-learning project until my lecturer convinced me otherwise.
“This project has the potential of assisting millions of kids,” she stated after reading my research paper. “It is so powerful, in the digital era, to teach young ones to be tech-savvy,” she added.
At first, I only saw it as a school project, until the start of the pandemic. I was back home after a contract with an NGO I was working with had ended. And the idea to start an e-learning website struck my mind. It was draining to put up all the necessities together. But I managed to contribute with a few donors who supplied electronic equipment.
But the mobilization phase broke my heart. Seeing kids at this age not tech-savvy and convincing their parents to allow them to participate in the program was quite a herculean task. 2 years running and the program attracted a few donors, converting the project into a venture assisting students in the estates.
We were struggling to keep it afloat, but the hope of seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces motivated us, every day.
“Thank you so much, my child does not have to enrol for tuition during the holidays,” a parent would say.
“The lunch program you introduced is saving us from extra costs,” another would say, referring to the incentive we introduced to have the children adopt to our tech program.
During the August holiday breaks, we, however, met a few challenges as parents were grappling with the tough economy and high cost of living.
“We can’t purchase data and at the same time support ourselves on our daily needs,” these were some of the issues raised.
We, ourselves, as an NGO, were also grappling to stay in business, struggling to assist the community. But all that changed when we were introduced to Safaricom.
It was our marketing agent who first found a way to assist parents to access our e-learning website.
“Safaricom introduced the Tuinuane campaign where we can lift ourselves again. They are supporting Kenyans through these tough times through various ways which I believe are helpful to our course,” Sarah stated. “We can mobilize parents to subscribe to the Tuinuane data, voice and SMS product offers where they can access all these for Ksh20 only,” she added.
Safaricom, she stated, introduced the Tuinuane campaign where customers can buy a 1Gb Data bundle valid for 1 hour at Ksh 20bob, or unlimited calls for one hour at Ksh20 bob.
They can also purchase unlimited SMS valid for 24 hours at Ksh20 bob. “The customer will dial *444*22# or use mySafaricom App,” Sarah added.
Say relief, huh! A big sigh of relief. But the best part was that we could also partner with Safaricom to achieve our dream.
Under the Tuinunane campaign, Safaricom introduced Ndoto Zetu, a campaign through which Kenyans can partner with Safaricom to have their community’s dreams and aspirations brought to life.
“Dreams are evidence of the confidence that people can better their lives despite prevailing circumstances. All Kenyans can apply online on www.safaricomfoundation.org/ndotozetu/ or pick, fill and drop application forms at Safaricom shops countrywide,” Sarah read, kickstarting our application.
“Application deadline is August 22,” she noted.
“It is amazing to see Safaricom seeks to recognize, understand and respond to vulnerabilities by being there for the people and helping us find a way out,” I responded after noting that the telco giant would also complement our work by enabling consumers to cater for their needs digitally by web or USSD through credible approved KICD material in a simple and easy manner.
It noted that with the harsh economic times, growing inflation and the pupil-teacher ratio at 40 to 1 in schools, consumers are grappling with the realities of struggling to maintain an affordable education for their children.
“Come read this,” Sarah pointed out. “Safaricom will also run a Bonga campaign to exemplify how to use Bonga points to pay for basic commodities such as unga, oil, milk etc.
“The customer will dial *126# or use mySafaricom App to redeem Bonga points at any point of sale that has a Buy Goods Till Number or Share Bonga Points with their family and friends who can use them to buy food,” she read.
I looked at a portrait in our office.
One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone
The inscriptions read.