When Mary Auma dropped out of school in form three due to school fees, her hopes and dreams of uplifting their family economically came crushing as she surrendered to fate.
It was not long before the 16-year-old was forced to look for work as a cleaner and later as a house help, to fend for her siblings, who at the times went to school without food.
But for the three years she worked as a domestic worker, Auma who had been longing to become an accountant could barely sustain the needs of her family, who at times went without meals and struggle to pay rent for their house in the Kangemi sprawling slum in Nairobi.
“I wanted to be an accountant but lack of school fees couldn’t allow me to chase my dream, I had to do local jobs to help my parents in sustaining the living,” she says
Mary told KNA how she dropped out of school due to lack of school fees, but her insatiable quest to help her parents raise fees for other five siblings so that they pursue their dreams compelled her to seek employment as a house help in a desperate attempt to make ends meet.
“After I dropped out of school in 2017, I worked as a house help for one year later, I joined a certain company where I worked as a cleaner. In 2019 I had to quit cleaning job after my health condition started to deteriorate due to cold that affected my chest’’, said Mary.
Mary says being the first born in her family was a challenge since it behooved her to ensure that her siblings looked up to her to shape their dreams and the feeling pushed her to work extra hard to help her parents provide for their family.
It was during my tribulation that the idea to come up with a small Kibanda hotel in Kangemi kept calling, especially after she visited her aunt who runs a food eatery in Westland and has been able to provide for her family through the business.
Mary describes her aunt’s life being way better compared to when she was not in business, saying that the hotel enterprise had enabled her aunt to pay for her children fees with no trouble.
“At first, I was worried of loses but after I discussed my business idea with my parents, I realized that for someone to achieve something they have to go through ups and down. But also, the spirit of being a business woman pushed me to move forward,’’ says Mary.
Reflecting on the fluctuation of the economy, Mary said it’s been difficult for her to convince her customer on reduced quantity of food, she does that at least for her to get small interest from the high-priced products.
“ I hope the government is going to work on economical fluctuation so that we don’t go through the lose we are going through currently it’s so hard to get profit due to high purchase price,’’ she explained.
She called upon graduate youths to find something constructive to do than wait for white collar jobs, saying that with support from family, friends and personal saving one can come up with good business.
Mary hopes to expand her business and open up more branches in future, employ more people who are unemployed out there, to her family, she has hopes that she is going to be a source of change and help her siblings fulfil their dreams.
By Ondere Veronica