“It's never too late to change”
Stephen Macharia is an alumni of Missions of Hope International (MOHI) who joined the Joska center as a grade six student. His life has been a series of ups and downs which he tells me have all worked towards making him the person he is today.
Here is his story:
I was born in the Central part of Kenya in a town called Muranga. I stayed in this rural home with my mother and four siblings while our father - who used to work in Nairobi - would travel to see us every so often.
Despite the distance, my parents had a rocky marriage and they ended up getting separated when I was about nine-years-old. My mother took my two younger siblings with her and she relocated to Nairobi. My older brother and I were taken to live with my mother’s grandmother but this proved to be a short term solution.
My mother had to come pick us before she was ready and settled - as had been the original plan. This was after her siblings and cousins became hostile to us and would not allow us to continue living there. They said my mother’s intentions for leaving us with their grandmother were not pure; they accused her of wanting to disinherit them. To avoid further tensions, my mother brought us to live with her in her single-roomed house in Mathare.
Somehow we learned to make do and create space for each other in this tiny abode that was home to us for a number of years.
Once in Nairobi, I was enrolled into a nearby private school that had a very stringent system. They were too harsh and would mete out corporate punishment even for the slightest infraction. I was one of those students who had a hard time understanding concepts and would fail my exams. Because of this, I was always at the receiving end of whatever punishment the teachers concocted. As a result, I started staying out of class and would instead spend my day in video halls.
When my mother eventually discovered what was going on, she moved me to a public school but the situation was not any better there as I continued being negligent about my studies. Although I was in grade five, in this new school I would miss the afternoon classes to go play football. My grades were really bad and I had all but given up on ever catching up on my studies.
Then in 2007, my mother got to learn about MOHI and I joined the Joska center as a grade six student. Life in Joska was good for someone like me who came from a needy background.
As a student in the boarding school program, I benefited from nutritious meals, I couldn’t get over just how much space I had or how spacious my living quarters were. Because of this, it took awhile for me to settle in and get serious about my studies. I was as playful in Joska as I had always been.
My older brother and I had both joined the school and one day he called me aside and talked to me about my attitude. He challenged me to stop goofing around and start working towards making a better life for myself. He helped me where I was having challenges in my studies and I also turned to teachers for help and committed myself to work hard.
When I sat for the national primary school exit exam in 2009, I got good grades that made it possible for me to go to high school. MOHI stepped in to ensure that I had everything I needed and in February 2010, I was among the students who joined grade nine.
The change of attitude that happened while I was in Joska was now a part of me and I came into high school as a student focused on his studies. I settled in immediately and worked closely with my teachers to ensure I stayed on top of my learning. During my senior year I sat for the national high school exit exam. I worked doubly hard to get ready. By God’s grade, I scored a B+ in my final exam.
I began college in 2015 to study Computer Security and Forensics at a local university. I successfully went through the four year course and I graduated at the end of 2018. In February of 2019, MOHI offered me an internship in the IT department and I have been here since then.
I am thankful for the role MOHI played in shaping me into the person I am today. I am especially grateful for the role they played and continue to play in nurturing my Christian life.
I gave my life to Christ as a young boy and I was already born again when I joined Joska. I was still very young in my faith and all the spiritual activities and programs offered there really helped me to grow. I developed a deeper understanding of God’s Word from teachers who taught us how to memorise Scripture, how to meditate and apply these lessons in our lives. Now as a staff member, I look forward to the daily devotions which give me an opportunity to delve into the Word of God with my colleagues.
Honestly in many ways, MOHI stepped in and offered me a mother’s love and care. I am forever changed and eternally grateful.