This is the true story of my life...... My Name is Okwakau Melkizedeck. Four years ago after my Form Four, I thought that nothing is possible for me after KCSE results were out. I had a good grade, but not good enough to secure me a direct entry into the university. Our family is one of those that were deeply affected by the 2007-2008 post-election violence, and therefore getting to go to the university as a self-sponsored student was unthinkable. That time I never knew anyone who could just advice or encourage me about life and what really matters most in life. The first thing that always came into my mind was "mujengo" (casual construction work), which I did and earned a daily income of Kshs 300. It was not easy but I was trying to get something for myself. After struggling for some months as a "Mtu wa Mkono", I opted for working in a barber shop, then later on in a Car Wash. By this time, my younger brother was in university and also trying to make his ends meet. Sometimes I used to think how my life will be when my brother will be driving. It made me decide to follow my brother to Nairobi so that at least we can learn the way of life together, eat together when we had and go hungry together when we lacked - all our lives we have been living side by side from early ages to date. The one thing God gave us is a strong Family bond, full of love. In Nairobi things were never much better, but at least when my brother left his books behind I used study them a little and gain some knowledge. That used to help me a lot. My brother sometimes used come with his different friends and at times we used to go together with him to his university. I made lots of friends and was exposed due to the interactions. That is when I realized that when you stay with people with knowledge after some time you'll be like them; that is if you decide to be like them. Those friends made me learn a lot. With my brother, we always believed in a better future and therefore, staying motivated and being positive were our order of life. After some few months my brother introduced LEMP (Living Effectively Mentorship Program) into my life. At first I was not willing to join because I was always concerned about getting into university, without knowing I was ignoring a very important part of my life; and that my life needed something much more important - Mentorship. Of course he always insisted. At the time LEMP was running Season 5 and I only attended one class then disappeared. Days passed by then my cousin gave me Kshs 9000 to join KCA University to study Accountancy. My fee for the semester was Kshs 28000. I deferred because I had no one or anywhere to get and pay my balance. After five months I went back to the university and a month later I had nothing to pay for my fees then my in-law paid my fees, including for my KASNEB exams. I wanted to defer for the second time but my Brother-in-law paid the fees for me. I finished that semester and as usual the following semester was no much different, I had know one to pay my fees. I stayed In the house without any hope of going back to the university for a whole year without doing anything, I was really depressed. One day on Whats app I saw my brother advertising for LEMP Season 9. I decided just to go for a session because I was idle in the house and thought to myself that after all I had nothing to loose; that was when my life changed completely. I thank Douglas Waudo, our mentor who made me abide by to biblical teachings. Right from the first day, first class I felt that I needed more. I believe that this was God's timing in my life. After four classes I realized that the biggest problem I had was with my self-esteem, and that was what almost made me fail in life. Courage came from nowhere. Even before the 6th class I got a modeling job because of that courage from LEMP. In LEMP I realize my purpose and passion. I graduated from LEMP, and I am now living effectively without struggling with life like life before LEMP. Two weeks after graduating from LEMP, I got another job that pays well. Now I can pay my fees and save for my future. From LEMP I learnt that you "DON'T WAIT FOR A CRISIS FOR YOU TO START SOMETHING, THE TIME TO START IS NOW". From then I always trust God to direct me in everything I do. I have learned not to wait for change to happen, but to make things happen. I appeal to all to join LEMP, where you will discover your purpose in life and get answers to life's most challenging questions. Okwakau Melkizedeck, LEMP Season 9 Alumni.
My name is Odede Ezekiel Oduor, a 5th-year student civil engineering at the University of Nairobi… what I learnt in LEMP is that in networking, it's about the people who know you, not the people you know. This has helped me a lot as I now strategically introduce myself, and engage more with big wigs in the industry when I meet them. Unlike before when I would simply say hi, exchange cards, and take selfies and that was all. Investing in myself Since I joined LEMP I am in the process of reading my second book. From the knowledge I have gained so far, I have managed to save and start an Mpesa business… I am still planning to open more of them. I have also learnt about habit - why we do what we do and how to change it. This has really helped me to realise that habits are just but a bunch of decisions we once made and therefore simply making a decision can also change the bad habits. Attending LEMP LEMP is really helping me answer life’s biggest questions: Who am I; What is my identity; Where did I come from, and What is my purpose in life. As a result, I have started reading and understanding the human manual (the Bible). I have also come to understand that I have a purpose on this earth, and I do have enormous hidden potential in me that I can tap into and reach my greatness. LEMP has helped me understand that this life is about other people and the legacy you leave behind is what matters a lot. I have also learned that my destiny is in my hands, for I am the CEO of my life. CV writing and looking for a job Through LEMP, I realised that one of the things that would make me stand out during job applications was how I present my CV. I have since revised my CV and packaged it to reflect my great wealth of knowledge, experience, skills and personal attributes, which I believe will now give me a competitive advantage in the job market. Odede Ezekiel Oduor, LEMP Season 7 Alumni
“Titles don’t define leaders. Actions and deeds define leaders. I want to be this kind of a leader. This is exactly what LEMP has taught me. And what’s more, I’ve got to increase my knowledge and feed my spirit and soul very well on a well-balanced diet: The Word (BIBLE), books, current issues, exercise etc. I am leaping out into being that leader, who is a LEADER. Titles DON’T give leaders. LEMP has a load of sweet things to feed on. I’ve eaten so well from it. I don’t regret one bit being associated with LEMP. Already, I am on my toes, working on my motivational book, writing more and more scripts every day. Alas! I got my eyes opened on this one: Nimewacha kulalia masikio (stopped sleeping on my talents and abilities). I am also already on with the drawing of cartoons and animals for primary school productions. I motivate at least two souls in a week as I target a thousand plus before the close of three years. I can’t say my circle of friendship is still the same. I now understand the essence of networking social media platforms. I’ve got to keep myself connected. You’ve got to know me! I got to network with you. Staying connected and networked is one of the to-do things that I can’t leave out when writing my schedule. I clearly understand the job market. I know the tricks. I only need to take a step and get down to it. My papers are clean and ready. I am a job creator: I know I am and you won’t convince me otherwise. Then, I know how to manage my finances, just ask me how. I can confidently say that I am not the person I was before joining LEMP and I assure you that I will not be the person I am today in the near future. I know what I was created for! I know the limits. I know what I stand for and against, fearlessly. I can clear cut what I want and what I don’t want, what I need and what I don’t need. I just can’t settle for anything! I have a plan. A plan for my future, a schedule for each week before it commences, with every minute well accounted for, giving each day my very best. Whatever I lay my hands on, I do with all my might. I no longer want to live like idiots; they spend too much time dreaming of the future, never realizing that a little of it arrives every day. This keeps me on my toes. Lastly, I know who I am: A spiritual being. Everything around me is about GOD. He made me. I’ve got to live my purpose. Only being and doing all I was created for. At least I now know that: GREATNESS WITHOUT PURPOSE IS A GRAVEYARD. Purpose is simply why we live!" Mary Wanjeri, Student, LEMP Season 6 Alumni and Student at the University of Nairobi.
"Joining LEMP is the best thing that happened to me the first quarter of this year. For years I have been longing to meet someone who could mentor me and guide me. It seemed my wishes were futile, until late last year when a friend told me about LEMP. After going through the brochure, I knew for sure that LEMP was a program I could not afford to miss. I wanted to know my purpose, maximise my God-given potential, live effectively on earth and become an agent of change in my family, to my buddies, church, society and nation. My sincere gratitude goes to LEMP fraternity for selflessly giving their time, resources and willingly choosing to share knowledge, experiences, ups and downs to ensure that young adults live a life of purpose, and avoid the mistakes of youthfulness. The nine LEMP modules were eye opening to me. From each module I learnt important lessons that I am using, and will continue to use as an effective agent of change. On spiritual development module, I learnt that I am a spiritual being; who is a spirit, that lives in a body and possesses a soul. The Spirit of God dwells in me, and whatever I do in my physical realm has spiritual consequences. My soul determines who I am. I have resolved to guard my mind because this where my self-dwells by constantly reading God’s word to saturate my heart and my mind because from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. My purpose is now clear and I am living it out in my own simple way, and this has brought fulfilment in my life. The Bible is my reference book, my manufacturer’s manual. From Personal Development module I now value expansion of one’s self-awareness, knowledge and improving personal skills. My energy is now refocused to better my strengths, and see to it that I deal with my weakness to be wholesome. I have enrolled for Tissue Culture training to improve my laboratory skills and read diverse range of books to expand my knowledge. To explore my creative side, I joined a friend who does face painting for kids. I now set goals to motivate myself and turn my vision into reality. Professional Development is very core in the competitive job market, and thus I am working to ensure that my knowledge, skills and experiences meet the job market demand to improve my chances of employment. I am looking forward to go for attachment in one of the research institutes, where I have already applied for. I now know how to write a presentable cover letter and CV, and how to negotiate for a competitive salary. I understand qualities that employers value and the necessary skills that I need in order to be hired. I believe I will have a successful interview when I will be looking for employment in the near future, because I will be too equipped to be ignored. Networking was something I didn’t value that much. However, I have resolved to connect with my lecturers for they have vast knowledge and experiences that is essential in my career development. I have learned to keep positive people in my network, and expand the circle of my network using every opportunity I get when I meet people in scope with my career. I will ensure I am known by them not just knowing them. Furthermore, I have learned to use social media as a resourceful platform to brand myself professionally. It is always everyone’s desire to be financially independent. Budgeting my money and time are the core values I also adopted from LEMP. Currently, I am saving up for my furnishing business that I plan to start during the long holiday. My health is my wealth, for without good health my wealth is useless and my purpose won’t be accomplished. I am reading articles on good nutrition and exercise. I am planning to have a weekly program of exercising. I have resolved to take care of my body for it is the vehicle to fulfilling my purpose on earth. After the module on Leadership Development I took an evaluation of myself as a leader and an agent of change. This made me desire to be a transformational leader like Jesus Christ, who was principled-centred, with strong character and integrity, and above all, spiritually founded. I desire to be a wise leader who will lead by example as I direct and guide others towards achievement of set objectives. I have also resolved that books on good leadership will be part of my library too. I am planning to nurture those behind me with reference to 2 Timothy 2:2. I believe with these skills and knowledge, I am fully equipped to be an agent of change with felt impact on my generation through the guidance of God and the Holy Spirit." Loice Mukami Kariuki, LEMP Season 6 Alumni and student at the University of Nairobi.
"For lack of better words, LEMP to me has been awesome and deep. It has really impacted my life. All the modules were helpful. They were eye-openers and really challenged me to question how I live my life. I will just share my take outs from each module: Spiritual Development: God created us for a purpose and our lives begin when we discover why we were created. I now understand well what being created in the image and likeness of God means. I am now certain of my purpose on earth, which is teaching the word of God. I still don't know how I will do it though I have decided to start within my circles. However, I am now taking classes on christian disciplines, doctrines and apologetics at Pathway Institute (in Mamlaka Hill Chapel) in order to prepare for the task. Its my hope and prayer that God will continue using me for the advancement of His Kingdom. Financial Development: If the picture of your future is not clear, you are not living. We all want to achieve financial stability but that alone is not enough if we do not take actions. That's the reality that hit me hard in the face and I decided to have a clear picture of my future. I always told myself that the best time to invest is yet to come only to be told that it was 10 years ago. For a start, I have opened an M-pesa and a photocopy shop in Machakos University. It is now operational and I want to add more machines (computers and printers) so that it will be a fully equipped cyber cafe come May this year. From this one step, my entrepreneurial journey has started and I won't stop until I have more chains of business. Personal Development: I didn't know much about personal development before I joined LEMP. I am now working on how to activate my dormant strength. I have also added a new skill. I enrolled for a driving school and I will be completing my test next week. Professional Development: One of the most educative classes. I used to send the same cover letter and CV for every job application. You can guess well: I was never called for interviews. I have now learned on how to check for details in the websites of hiring organisations, know the skills needed for the position and edit my CV and cover letter to match the position. I am now confident since I now know how to apply for a job and how to conduct myself during interviews. Networking Development: How could I know that there's something called online brand? I always knew that what happens in my private social media accounts is private. I learned that "internet never forgets' and that employers check the profiles of employees and prospective employees. I have updated all my accounts and I will now be careful on what what I post online. I realized that the people who I thought were in my network were not. I am the one who knows them but they have no idea who I am. Networking is not about who you know but who knows you. I have taken an initiative to get in contact with the people who I desire to be in my professional network and also create new networks. Physical Development: "Without health, wealth is useless." That quote just explains everything. The class was very informative. I won't forget the effects of drugs in the body, the importance of water, exercise and good diet. I will apply the information for my own physical development and also advice others accordingly. GOD BLESS LEMP." Daniel Musili, LEMP Season 6 Alumni and Student at the University of Nairobi.
Last week, the gods decided I needed to attend one of those peace workshops in the lead up to the general election in some fancy hotel in the heart of the city. The chandelier obsessed conference hall is dotted with men in well-cut Brioni suits, and ladies in colourful, royal elegance Hillary-Clinton-like power suits twenging stereotypically their NGO jargon of capacity building, milestones, indicators, outcomes, deliverables and sustainable goals. Without warning we are slapped with this commanding voice: Ladies and gentlemen, kindly take your seats we are about to start. Heheh! the Kenyan in me wants, sorry, must put the face to the voice. Its the same Kenyan genes that runs towards an accident instead of away from. So, like a typical Kenyan brought up around and about the maize plantations of the Rift Valley and blessed with a height challenge, I shamelessly struggle to stand on my toes and even use the table for support in an endeavour to see who was that commanding us. Well, and that's when I saw her walking in. Everything was working for her. Her illegitimate weave perched on her dry skull fell almost perfectly on her shoulders. Her smile was absorbing. Nearly charming. Her sequined dress complimented her workshop shoes but somewhat ridiculed her handbag. She walked with a swag borrowed from Scandals Season 4. She was what men tucked in a dingy tavern drinking discounted 'happy hour' alcohol and self-praising about their side dishes and Japan imported juggernauts will call hot and sexy. And who could blame them? In any case, in this part of the Sub-Saharan hemisphere, she probably would be the closest they would ever get to the Kardashians. She had this nice, long flowery legs that will make a man going through middle life crisis to sell his ancestral land and ship her ass and multiple monstrous weaves to the Seychelles for the weekend. Her African skin was smooth like a well-ironed nylon dress. She gave the appearance of a high value, high maintenance, well-read, well-travelled, well-exposed, intelligent damsel. In fact, suffice for me to add she looked like one of those I-got-my-own independent women, who probably invented sunscreen or lipstick in some poorly lit laboratory back in her wild campus days. She looked like a pretty thing that devours for breakfast pages of a technical book about empowerment of African women. As you can objectively see, everything was working for her. Well, everything - until she opened her cute mouth to speak. The richness, quality and diversity in her ignorance slapped everyone in the room like a bad omen. Initially, I had entertained the un-married thought of chit-chatting with her after the workshop. Maybe if I am lucky, take a selfie with her as I whisper a few naughty luhya proverbs in her ears . Obviously in the selfie, her hand will be on my shoulders, or why not, my waist. And since she can't get enough of my warm personality and luhya-ness, she will slap my phone with her number. I will promise to call her as soon as it takes a village cock to enjoy its conjugal rights. Unfortunately, all that un-married thoughts disappeared as soon as she began talking. Don't get me wrong though. I had no problem with her constitutional right of freedom of speech. My problem was her audacity to sunbath her ignorance in public. I left that workshop later in the day disturbed by the fact that most of us don't take time and effort to invest in knowledge and information. We simply live like zombies, talking, shouting, reasoning and operating on whimps, emotions and hearsay. We don't take time to research, study and acquire information, facts and figures. As a result, we walk around smartly dressed but with no substance between our ears. We go for meetings, job interviews, hell ya even on dates, proudly unprepared and happily ignorant. For most of us, the last book we ever read was the last time we were sitting for an exam. We have been conditioned to only read for exams. We are allergic to books. No wonder we have more bars and brothels than bookshops. I am tired of meeting beautiful ladies who are looking for a well-educated, successful man but they can't hold a mature conversation for more than three seconds, before they revert back to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, soap operas and types of weaves. I am tired of meeting men wearing well-cut suits with polished nails and an expensive attitude stuffed inside their six-packs, but can't talk anything beyond the English Premier League and their sexual escapades. We speak too much. Listen less. Read nothing, except those bipartisan, tribalistic gutter press designed to rave up our ethnic emotions and political affiliations for sale and profit margins. I challenge you today to interrogate your source of information and knowledge. I challenge you to interrogate their intentions and objectives. Knowledge and information isn't acquired by osmosis. Great and successful people in life take time to acquire and invest in knowledge. They always talk from a point of knowledge and clear understanding of issues, not emotions and rumours. And like our damsel above, lets not suffer from the course of beauty without brains. Study things. Seek to understand stuff. Be knowledgeable. Get exposed. Travel. Ask questions. Interrogate things and people. Seek to know. So that you speak from the point of knowledge and understanding. And by the way, if you have nothing to say or don't understand an issue well, for the love of John the Baptist - please shut your mouth. Don't simply speak because you have a mouth. If you can't improve the quality of silence, shut up. Even Proverbs 21:23 (NLT) says, watch your tongue and KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, and you will stay out of trouble. Wisdom is the principal thing, and in all your getting, get understanding, Proverbs 4:7 expressingly puts it. While without mincing words, Proverbs 15:14 (NLT) says a wise person is hungry for knowledge while the fool feeds on trash. WOW! Simply put, a wise person is always eager to learn and be enriched with information, while a fool is busy feeding on gossips, rumours and ignorance. No wonder Hosea 4:6 says my people perish for lack of knowledge. What are you feeding your mind on? Image Credit: Ghanacelebrities.com