is a 20 year old boy from Kilifi County, Kenya. In 2011, during the second year of his Aiducation scholarship, he got the great opportunity for a school exchange in Iowa, USA, which was sponsored by the American Councils for International Education. Mwalimu recognized key differences between the United States and Kenya and he initiated a water development project for his home village in Kenya. He also shared his story by writing a book “Mwalimu’s dream” and is leading fundraising for the construction of a Health Center.
Mwalimu managing work at the Health Center
Mwalimu, how did you find the opportunity to be an exchange student in the United States?
This opportunity was announced by one of my teachers when I was in form two. The exchange program based its selection on leadership skills among other qualities. I found myself to have an advantage because I developed key leadership skills during the mentorship academy in August 2010. At that mentorship academy Jan Rihak, an Aiducator from Switzerland, was talking about business opportunities, project organization and interviews. The application process was very competitive because only 16 finalists in the whole country were to be selected.
Do you remember your first impression when you arrived in the United States?
What impressed me on the first day I arrived in the USA was the way everyone utilized time. I realized that time was the most important factor to consider before anything. And the high level of technology application in almost everything was amazing.
What was your most important experience during your stay abroad?
My most important experience was about community service. I realized that, even though America has much to offer, people took some time to give back to the community
During the time in the Unites States, you initiated your own development project. How did this come off?
This idea came up after some time of my stay in the USA when I was looking at the differences between Kenya and the USA. Clean water is a big problem in Kenya that many people in the USA take for granted. So, together with the help of my host parents, a coordinator of the American Councils program, a pastor from Kenya, my American high school and some friends, I raised the money to build a modern water well in my village which draws drinking water at a touch of a button!
Clean water by a touch of a button: Mwalimu’s well.
You wrote in your book that the well was a revolution for your village. What did you mean by this?
I love this question. When I said this, I was referring to the rapid positive change the well would bring to my people. For example, it also promoted other things like agriculture. To the nearby primary school, students did not need to go search for water anymore and the time gained was now spent studying. The positive effect of this well on education is evident because the school improved to be among the top in this area after the well was built.
Can you tell us about your current project to build a health center?
The current project that I am working on is construction of a new Health Center and the building has been completed. This Health Center will comprise a laboratory, a pharmacy, a perioperative care center and a nursing station. It will serve more than 12,000 people in the district. The government said that it would take over when the Health Center is equipped. Right now, we are waiting on more funding for the walls to be plastered and the rooms to be furnished. This includes technical equipment such as a glucometer, a centrifuge, infusion stands, and wheel chairs, just to give a few examples. We are still seeking donors to help us finish this project and we need $30,000 to finish the Health Center.
You wrote in your book ”I strive to be a role model for young people“. How do you live by this slogan in your daily life?
To me, this means being the first person to do what many think is impossible. I am proving to the young that there is nothing that is not possible. Talking to them and encouraging them at the grass root level is what I do in most cases. Very few people pay attention to them. Imagine if there were at least four people like me in my village. Encouraging the young and supporting their ideas is a great thing to do and I look forward to seeing their ideas become real.
The skeleton of Health Center has been finished.