Impact Stories

Impact Stories: Mark Okeri

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Some would say home is a building. Others would say home is a group of people. Others point out that home is a feeling. Thus, the question, what is a home?

As I sat outside the branch manager’s office of equity bank in kikuyu, Nairobi County, incidences of the past couple of days gushed through my mind. I had boarded a matatu from Nakuru to Nairobi to my mother who I had not seen for the past five years. I fled to her arms, after foreseeing that my future was in turmoil. I fled to her arms with hopes of pursuing my dreams through education. I had my papers at hand, every document necessary for my enrollment at the Mangu high school. I recalled how my mother and my late grandfather would camp at the gate of the school just to catch the principal to get assistance. It was only then that the school’s watchman directed my mother to Mr. Isaac Mwaura who was leaving having dropped off a fellow student, Allan, at the school, Mr. Ndungu Nyoro had accompanied him and with that pinch of good luck, we had earned an appointment at Kikuyu’s equity branch office.

“Mama Okeri, habari zenu!” those exact words brought me to reality in a flash as I now came face to face with my now AFFECTO dad, Mr. Ndungu Nyoro and the branch manager Mr. Isaac Mwaura. In the office I was able to narrate my ordeal, how I was able to find my way to my mother from Nakuru to Nairobi, the challenge of initial school fees payment, shopping and enrolling into my school of choice. After around two hours in the office, my fate was sealed, I was assured of my enrollment into the great Mangu high school. At that office was when my ears heard of a very unique yet foreign name ‘AFFECTO’. It lingered in my mind for a while then. As we travelled home that day, I could not help but wonder how in the world someone was that generous.

On the twelfth of January 2018, I was ready to get into school. My mother and I arrived at a certain place called ‘wa Kairu stage’. We had arrived there with a handful of shopping items as we took shelter under a motorcycle shed. At three o’clock, a sleek black harrier car stopped in front of us. It was Mr. Nyoro and Mr. Mwaura. We hopped into the luxurious car, off to my school of choice. My late grandfather was waiting for us and on arrival, I was able to be catered for well. When it was time to part, my heart was at ease, I embraced everyone as I said my goodbyes. My late grandfather was humbled and wished to express his gratitude to the two gentlemen by an offering of a goat and inviting them to his household. However, time would tell, my grandfather’s demise came sooner before passing on his gratitude.

And so, there I was Mangu high school, at last!

That was back in 2018, where my chapter with AFFECTO began.

The past four and a half years as an AFFECTO star have been quite exhilarating. Through AFFECTO I have been able to venture into different exciting destinations such as: Strathmore university, the statehouse, and the Kempinski hotel just to mention a few. AFFECTO has organized mentorship programes where I have met individuals who have been able to be a guide in my life then till to date. I have been able to garner up skills useful in my day-to-day activities. I have interacted with teachers who have been able to show me how to carry out my high school activities in order to gain results, and not only results but good results. I made long lasting friendship bonds that are promising to my future.

And yes, apart from the good times there have been not so good times. The team leader, my AFFECTO dad, Mr. Ndungu Nyoro, was a strict adherent to the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ metaphor. He valued discipline, time-punctuality, integrity, composure, humility and of course hard work. As an individual, I realized then, that poor performance would always bring a wall between us. The beauty of it was that, I was always motivated to get back to school, and accelerate my effort in academics. When I got to form four, was when things started heating up. I was not recording or delivering to the best of my capability, and that would raise a concern. Father was not happy and I was required to produce a good grade after sitting for my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.

Through AFFECTO and its partnership with the Presidential Award (PA) scheme, I have been able to explore various personal skills such as public speaking, leadership and teamwork. I was able to address an audience confidently at AFFECTO’s fundraising gala and the AFFECTO breakfast. I have been able to show my teamwork capabilities in areas such as the July adventurous journey.

I have had 3 cherishable moments under AFFECTO.

The first one was back, in 2020 when the pandemic, covid-19 had struck. I had completed helping my mother clean a laundry of clothes, when I received a call from Mr. Ndungu. I thought that maybe he was calling to say hi but, I was thrown aback when I heard him requesting directions to our home. I was shocked but at the same time excited. When they arrived at our household, my heart was touched, accompanied with a couple of his friends, they had brought food stuffs that would sustain my family for the following four to six months. The concern! The love! Who would have thought. I was grateful. My family was grateful!

The second moment, although an impromptu visit, was when I was invited to the AFFECTO office which was by then undergoing renovations to the luxurious and spacious home office that it is today. I never comment much about it, but my heart is always fulfilled when I receive photos of interviews of bright students with different challenges whose lives are assured of taking a new turn to achieve what they think is impossible.

The final moment was when I went on a father-son lunch, with Mr. Nyoro. Perhaps, I can start by stating that it was one of those moments when I had dropped in terms of academic performance hands-down. I was ready with my report form, fee receipt and my termly letter, on my way to the AFFECTO office to face my judgement. Fortunately, the office was closed for the holidays and so I went to my cousin’s place at Ruiru where he sells his hoodies. I called Mr. Nyoro only to hear he was actually on his way to Muranga county. He picked me up and we drove off to Muranga. We stopped at a place called Kenol to have lunch and I enjoyed my chicken as he dished his pineapple pizza. In the car we took selfies then we drove off to our destination. We paid a visit to an old man’s house, who was a teacher and a supporter of the ‘Watoto wasome’ program. I felt proud to see my AFFECTO dad at work. From the ordeal, I was able to part with one statement, that till to date is stuck in my mind. As we said our goodbyes from the car, he looked at me and said “Okeri, this is the work, you’ll be doing very soon!” I was humbled.

Therefore, as every story has an end, so does my journey with AFFECTO. Or does it? I was able to complete my season with AFFECTO in Mangu high school in 1st April 2022. I was able to attain a maximum of an A minus (A-). Hence my one-way ticket to the great Technical University of Kenya to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.

My journey with AFFECTO is not yet over. I have AFFECTO siblings who need a big brother to show them the ropes. I have now graduated to the stature of an AFFECTO alumnus. I now have a role to mentor and guide the rest of the stars.

Thus, I conclude with my true definition of a home; where one expresses themselves fully, where one is loved unconditionally, where all members of the home look out for each other, where all members help each other grow. AFFECTO has been that home to me. I pray and wish nothing but blessings upon my home, my family!

AFFECTO ALUMNUS,
Mark Okeri.


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