My names are Ruth Nyambura Kimani. I was born and raised in a small village in central province of Kenya in East Africa. Both my parents are still alive. I am the 12th child in a family of thirteen children, eight girls and five boys. Being raised deep in the village, we all cramped together in our small home structures praying all the time and hoping that one day our lives would change for the better. With no tap water or electricity, the challenges of doing homework before sunset, fetching water from the nearby wells and rivers, and collecting firewood to do regular chores with were quite real!
Growing up and working in the farm to get our daily provisions from the farm, as none of our parents had a job, was the norm. During the weekends and holidays, when we were not in school, we would work on wealthy people’s farms to get extra cash to pay our school fees and other supplies. I recall going to the white settlers’ coffee plantations at the young age of seven to work with my sisters. Sometimes it was all day laboring in the farm with minimal pay, while on good days, I took home the equivalence of 25 Kenyan shillings, which is basically 25 cents in USA today. The long day without food or water were rather rough on our young bodies, but it soon became the custom to survive on one meal a day. The walks were quite strenuous, to say the least, with a distance of 5 miles one way, barefoot, climbing hills, and crossing valleys on unstable slippery bridges, occasionally stumbling upon snakes and wild animals.
I was among the lucky five out of the thirteen who went to high school, and the only girl to go to college. This was a big accomplishment then, as my father still had a hard time agreeing to educate the girl child. God’s ways are absolutely not man’s ways. The college I attended was totally tuition-free at least during the time I enrolled. The students who joined thereafter paid a hefty amount of fees, which would have been absolutely impossible for me to convince my parents to come up with such a ‘huge’ amount of money to educate a “girl child.”
Through a special door that God opened by an act of Congress in the USA, where nurses were in high demand due to severe nursing shortage, I was able to immigrate with my husband, Geoff and our three year old son, Willy, who is now sixteen. The transition has absolutely transformed our lives and we thank God for it. Nevertheless, while we are living a good life here in America, our hearts have never entirely settled. Our families and friends, our country, and certainly the continent of Africa needs every available source of everybody’s help, ours included, which includes, but is not limited to, educating and sharing the importance of educating the girl child.
We all were created equal, but the society has successfully sown the seed of inequality, “the lesser than others” kind of mentality, in the minds of many African cultures, which as a result has produced all prevailing inequalities and exploitation. I believe, especially as a firm Christian believer, that nothing is impossible. Together, as women and everybody in general, we can work and successfully change the ills in our society and make the world a better place for every one of us.
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