Journey from Student to Teacher
When you meet Willis today, you see a poised, confident young man pursuing a teaching career. He is a facilitator in the Boys Empowerment Team of Umoja Project and spends much of his time and energy sharing what he has learned with younger students, to help prepare them for life beyond their humble childhoods.
When his father died in 1999, Willis was only six years old. His widowed mother struggled to provide for Willis and two older brothers. Willis joined the Umoja Project and began receiving a nutritious daily lunch at school. He also received support and encouragement from the Umoja staff, LINK teachers and other volunteers. He went on to become one of the top students at Kuoyo Mixed Secondary School and also leader of the Umoja Secondary Student Group.
Willis continued his education at Kenyatta University, graduating in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Swahili and Religious Education. He is the first in his family to attend university. He credits the Umoja family for his success and enthusiastically gives back to the organization that has given him so much. Now as a volunteer teacher at Kuoyo Secondary School and as a BET UP facilitator, Willis continues the Umoja tradition of encouraging vulnerable students.
A few years ago Willis reflected upon the challenges he has faced. He wrote: If one day I make it out there and become successful, it’ll be because I had someone who believed in me and I didn’t have the guts to let them down.
Willis has returned to his home village to help younger students envision a bright future. He encourages them to dream and to work hard toward achieving those dreams.
Pray the project: the BET UP program; our young men overcoming cultural and socioeconomic challenges; our alumni having hearts and resources to continue to support the project as mentors