When you meet Rosa for the first time, she comes off as pretty shy and you are struck with how tiny she is and how young she looks. But, after working with Rosa for two years now, I have learned that Rosa is a quick-witted, creative thinker who loves to learn and has a knack for making people laugh. Rosa just left Nuru for nursing school, and in her time with us she definitely made her mark. We’re celebrating the opportunity she’s been given. I want to share Rosa’s amazing story.

The district officer in her area wondered what she was up to when she said she was leaving the village a few days a week. Rosa explained that she was working for Nuru International to help people in her community lift themselves out of extreme poverty. He was very impressed and shared Rosa’s story with the MP (Member of Parliament) who selected her for a full scholarship to the college of her choice. This scholarship is how Rosa is being supported by the government to attend nursing school “through Nuru.” Her last day of work was bittersweet. Our water and sanitation program staff members sent her off with a celebration, heartfelt speeches and gifts, and as she shook my hand in Kurian tradition one last time, she handed me a letter with this incredible story…

My Life History

By Rosa Murimi

I am 21 years old by now and being the last born out of twelve children in my family. I attended Kubwaha Primary School for my [primary level] education and it was so difficult because there was no [money to pay the] school fees.

I did my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE)in 2004 in the school that I mentioned above. I scored a total marks of 315 out of 500 and I was position three out of thirty-seven students. I was called to join in a district school, Moi Nyabohanse Girls High School, but still it was impossible due to lack of school fees.

Thereafter, the church decided to contribute money for me and I joined that school after I got those money.  As I reached in form three [third year of secondary school], the money that the church contributed for me was over and I went back home. Within a few days later, I got a good Samaritan school decided to pay for me for the last remaining classes and through the good Samaritan I did my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2008 and managed to attain a mean grade of “C” besides all the challenges that I encountered through my studies.

After my secondary level, I stayed home and I tried to help my parents where necessary (i.e. in planting and harvesting of tobacco). Within a short period of time an organization known as Nuru International came and my side I was told to join it by Mzee Mwita who was a village elder.

It was difficult to join Nuru because I was so shy and I was fearing because I did not know how to talk the fluent English. But through God’s miracles I joined it although my age-mates were laughing at me that how can I volunteer to work minus money instead of helping my parents with some work. [This was when Rosa first came onboard and was still on unpaid probation.] But it is good to do some changes minus money than earning a lot of money minus doing anything.

After continuing working in Nuru, I saw many changes in my family because we started boiling water and harvesting a lot of maize – something we didn’t know before. Through Nuru also I started saving some money thinking that after making some changes in my community I could go to school for medical [studies], my favorite work.

Through Nuru, the government is going to sponsor me to school and I hereby say that many God bless kijana Jake who decided to start this project plus all the wazungus [white people] who really helped us so much and also Mrs. Nicole Scott who normally used to encourage me not to fear and through this I have really improved so much.

Otherwise whatever you do and wherever you go may good lucky also accompany you – all the wazungus [white people].

Losing Rosa definitely left a gap in the water and sanitation program. When she told me that she was leaving, she cried because she wanted to “make some changes in her community before leaving for school.” She felt like she failed to do so. But, although I was sad to see her go, I was so excited for her and knew it was the right thing to leave Nuru for school.

I reminded her of all the many ways she has made changes in her community. She trained up a local cadre of field officers who are now able to construct low cost, safe latrines. She has trained her community about the causes of diarrheal diseases and how to prevent them. During the cholera outbreak last year she had a line out of the door at her house: her neighbors knew exactly where to come for technical assistance, and Rosa stayed up late into the night teaching them how to properly boil water to disinfect it. Rosa has certainly helped to end extreme poverty in her community.

Rosa is a who is a servant leader who has grown into a fantastic trainer, mentor to her staff and manager. As I wrap up my last few weeks here in Kenya, I’ve been reflecting on the amazing privilege it has been to work alongside Rosa and to pour into all our Kenyan staff members. Their courage, commitment to growth, willingness to learn and their deep warmth and kindness toward me inspires me every day. I can honestly say that they have changed my life and made me a better person. I will never forget their faces, their stories, their friendship and their incredible hard work ending extreme poverty in their community.

Rosa with her mother at their home