What comes to mind when you hear of Marsabit County? Is it the cradle of human kind? An isolated part of Northern Kenya? A rich cultural County? Or do you visualize pastoralists roaming in vast land?
On June 20th, 2017 we set on a journey to inspire Marsabit next generation of engineers. Marsabit is North of Nairobi and a distance of 537Kms from the city. A drive will take approximately six hours. The occasion was organized by Iladho Galgallo, one of us.
I was impressed by the punctuality of all travelers when we met as per plan, perhaps motivated by many unknowns. Our first stop over was Thika for breakfast. Impressed by the hard work, we also took selfies with goats and cows in a nearby farm.
Isiolo where the security team joined us, has beautiful landscape. It lies between two cities, from the ranches to the green farms of Timau. The road heading north is in good condition with minimal traffic. Contrary to the picture we had in mind, the landscape is dotted with beautiful mountains and wide rivers around foothills of Mulima Wamba.
Our mission, to inspire the young girls went down at Moi Girls Marsabit schools. Nine schools from around Marsabit County attended the mentoring sessions. All fourteen of us talked with the girls to ignite some curiosity in them for technology. To simplify the concepts, we coined some names based on our areas of specialty like “mother of network”-Laura ” mother of internet”-Jennifer and “eyes of Network”-Maryann “ police of network”-Lilian. There was a bit of surprise on our part on the level of understanding of Telcom 101 amongst these promising techies.
The girls also got to learn about Women in Technology, its vision, and success stories. When Galgallo shared her story, i noted the audience became very attentive. Here was a lady who went through the same struggles they faced. Having grown up in north Horr with no basic infrastructure, lack of school fees, three threats of early marriage strong cultural practices. She spoke to their hearts and they could relate. I remembered Mandela’s words “if you speak to me in a foreign language, you speak to my mind, if speak in my language, you speak to my heart” She has overcome a lot of odds and turned her challenges into opportunity to be where she is. Her story brought hope to the Marsabit girls.
Our colleague, Abdi Aziz, who also grew up Wajir a neighboring country having the same challenges also inspired girls a lot. Like Galgallo, he overcame a lot of challenges, secured a chance to study in China and is now a success story speaking an impressive six languages. He advised the girls not to give up, change their attitude and embrace Maths since it’s crucial for technical careers.
Nancy insisted self-confidence to the Marsabit girls. Her tag line was “it’s not where you come from that counts but the destination”
On the feedback session, there was a lot of appreciation from the girls on how their lives were enriched. The best part of this story; during the final session, they pledged to embrace and take up Maths and Sciences.
(by Allan Mwangi)