"Oh Thomas my son!" You should have seen my mother feel proud of me, staring at me with that lovely motherly look.
Both palms on her chin, before she pulled me into a hug. She was overwhelmed. It was quite a journey to reach here.
But here's how the story of my life begins.
I was born in a family of five. My father and my mother, both being retired teachers, yearned to see me follow either of their paths, but I chose my own, uncharted.
I always felt my passion is for assisting the community through advocacy, corporate social responsibility and activism, thus I pursued Communication and Journalism as a degree course and majored in Development Communication, the use of communication to facilitate social development.
Here, we development communication experts engage stakeholders and policymakers to create solutions to social issues.
I graduated in 2012 and I made my folks proud. I was to first find something relevant to keep me engaged.
My parents have a family SME business. So, I worked part-time in the family business but also volunteered in the society with some NGOs, leading community workshops, rescuing street urchins, and visiting the elderly.
I was building a voice and was lucky to land one or two short-term contracts. But life was speeding fast.
The jobs I desired and applied for were not coming through. I got accustomed to the HR messages. They are usually polite but hit right deep into that nerve.
"We thank you for your application. You passed exceedingly well but unfortunately, we settled for others who are more qualified than you." Haaaa!
Now, wait for the salty part. "We shall retain your application for future consideration." Haa. Bro, will they even remember my name?
But I journeyed on. Supporting the community had become my life's work. And to keep in touch with the new trends in my field, I undertook short courses online.
After campus, my classmates and I maintained our Whatsapp group where we usually chatted, celebrated each other's milestones or sent job opportunities.
I learnt that even those who were privileged enough to land the jobs we all desired often encountered the eye-opening truth that not all jobs are what we dream of. It's a whole new world, challenges here and there.
Anyways, the road ahead is always quite bumpy and unless we are able to move away from the precondition that we must secure employment after campus, then we shall always be stuck in the quandary of life's debacles.
But through the Whatsapp group discussions, I realized that a majority were self-employed, running their own businesses.
Jonathan, who was our class coordinator during the campus years, noted that he was expanding his own business soon after acquiring a Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) Business Plus Loan from Co-op Bank.
So I sent him a message in his DM to find more, knowing that such a loan could aid my parents to expand their business, which I was managing too.
“Co-op Bank offers Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) Business Plus Loan through the MCo-opCash App or via USD *667#.
“You can have your parents open a Co-op SME bank account and get the loan. Via the MCo-opCash App, you can bank anytime and anywhere without physically visiting the bank,” he texted back.
I forwarded the message to my folks and asked to visit the bank as Co-op bank’s MSME loans were said to be affordable.
That was a few days before my turnaround.
It was after my firstborn daughter, Gabrielle was born. I had taken a walk out of the maternity when I met this young man called Martin, a 23-year-old
He recognised me in an instant and rushed towards me, overwhelmed with emotions.
"Thomas, my wife was operated on and the bill is so outrageous. I am stranded, man. Nisaidie morio (Kindly assist me)."
We sat down and discussed the legality of his case, which I forwarded to an activist in the area as by that time my 1-year contract with an NGO had expired and I was back home planning to manage my folk’s business full time.
By the day's end, a few friends and some Kenyans online came through and we raised funds for him. It was overwhelming to see how Kenyans were eager out there to stretch an open arm.
I topped up with my Co-op bank savings and saw him off.
"Bro, thank you," he appreciated.
Anyways, no person is an island. We are social creatures, and it is not until we are able to truly accept that we cannot build our lives by ourselves.
On the next day, I was referred to a job application, for a director’s post at one of the NGOs in the estate.
During the interview, It happened that one of the senior figures had heard of how we coordinated to save the youth. Word travels faster in the estate.
This formed part of the conversation and I was slotted in for another interview, with only two applicants then, from six.
It was on, a Monday afternoon when I was called in to discuss my contract the next day, a Tuesday,
That same Monday was when we were elated at my folks securing Coop banks Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) Business Plus Loan when I received the call.
“I got the job,” I told her when I came back, “With a Ksh100K salary,” I added.
“Double blessing for us. We expand our SME and you get to follow your dream,” my father told me as he made a wish.
“I believe you are a testament to self-belief,” my mother added.
To reach this far, I believe is because I had far more impact on my wellness than I thought.
Sometimes we are always close to making it, then we let go. I hope what you are chasing in life comes through.