Friday, December 14, 2007

Resident of Nairobi Slum Graduates from University of Manchester, U.K.

by: Jennifer Kumar

Question everything. Anything is possible. Dare to expect the unexpected. Take the path less traveled. Go against expectations.

This is the life story of Sammy Gitau, a lifetime resident of one of Nairobi, Kenya’s poorest communities- a slum in the middle of the city. The story of his life is commendable. He has definitely seen times most of us are afraid to talk about let alone experience first hand.

He knew his studies would take him places. Though he has had only few years of formal schooling, he is now a proud college graduate from the University of Manchester in U.K. with a MSc in International Development Project Management (IDPM).

His story teaches us many things. One of the things that it teaches me is that “there are many ways in and many ways out” and some of those ways are far from conventional. I am sure, for instance the University was ridiculed for accepting such a student. After all, plenty of students ‘formally schooled’ and highly ranked also applied. What did the students think? But, the university took a risk on experience over test scores! How novel!

How did Sammy get to go abroad? Being from a slum, how could he afford the travel and living expenses abroad? Over his lifetime (currently at the ripe old age of 35), he has inspired his neighbors and fellow ‘slum dwellers’ to rise up and have better lives. Without studying books, but knowing his community, his people, and his country he created his own community development programs. These programs had international visitors over the years. His superior networking abilities roped in insurmountable international moral and financial support. It was through his track record on the ground, his grassroots effort paid off, literally. Now, to return to Kenya foreign educated at one of the world’s top institution.

So, two days after Kenya’s 44th Independence Day celebration, one of Kenya’s hardest working ‘regular Joes’ has achieved a new freedom of his own for himself and his people. I wish Sammy all the best in using his new found knowledge to enhance his family, his community, his country and his world!

For the entire article, titled From Slum Dweller to Miracle Graduate click here.
University of Manchester

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