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The Zig Zag of Adult Education

I loved reading from a tender age, I enjoyed Nancy Drew, James Hadley chase and African literature .I licked crime fiction a lot as I had a feeling that one day I’d either become an investigator or solve many criminal cases. With time I graduated to reading Sidney Sheldon and wanted to become a lawyer when I grew up. When young, I used to think that lawyers were the brightest people in the world. I also enjoyed African literature with books such as Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Meja Mwangi’s Cockroach Dance and Ngugi WA Thiongo’s The River Between which provided an avenue of better understanding African cultural diversity.

Loving books from a young age has propelled me to continue education. I was not lucky enough to get to university immediately after high school as many of my age mates did. Finances were hard to come by and I had to go look for a job before eventually joining an institution of higher learning.

I believe in myself and am determined to achieve what I set my mind on, whenever I passed near a university or an institution of higher learning, I’d say to myself one day I will pass through those gates. I got sponsored to attend the University of Nairobi, it was a new experience for me, meeting people from diverse parts of the country, and engagement in discussions and the difficult part was to revise for exams. Because you could not predict what the examiner would set, you have too many notes to read and at the same time course assignments, with some having deadlines by the week. Sometimes I would be working and at the same time going to school, I would reach the classroom when the lecture had already started. There is an instance when a classmate called me that the Continuous Assessment were on and I was over 100 Kms from the exam venue. I’d like to say that learning as an adult is not easy, and it gets even harder when you go to work in the mornings and are in class in the evening. Many a times I had to read through the night to catch up with assignment, sometimes the assignments were too much. There was a day when I took my assignment to class when the lecturer was winding up the class, running and out of breath.

In adult learning, in my view, one has to be disciplined and be able to multitask. Also one needs to have to create a network of people to have groups discussions with, these can provide you with varied perspectives to the same phenomenon. Lecturers like it when students are able to prove that they are reading wide. Containing yourself to class notes only is committing academic suicide. One also needs to create a team of friends interested in learning. This is because, time and again, one can easily get distracted and end up with poor grades. The adult learner needs to be true to themselves, remember their main aim of learning and what brought them to study in the first place.

Working with grassroots communities has enhanced my opportunities for learning. There are instances when I respond to calls for applications that I find online. My first engagement on human rights work came with a training on issues of home based care, this was a time when there were high cases of HIV in Kenya and a lot of stigma around HIV.I got trained as a Trainer Of Trainers on HIV/AIDS community based care and support services by Centre for African Family Studies (CAFS), this engagement helped build my self esteem and confidence. Through the trainings, I got to interact with communities and with time, I had confidence to hold discussions at the grassroots, I also overcame shyness but it was not an easy task.

Through networks such as Building Eastern Africa Community Network (BEACON), I got to be trained in Economic Social and Cultural Rights, this provided an opportunity to understand human rights at a global level, forge more networks at global and regional levels and increase my circle of friends. I developed an interest in contributing to online networks and sharing experiences on what was happening in my community to an online global audience. This is how I came to know about New Tactics in Human Rights and the online dialogues they hold on diverse human rights issues .I got to contribute on various topics such as community paralegals and justice and climate change.

I eventually got to start writing articles building up on knowledge gathered working with different communities and contributing this to online platforms and sharing views. Several of articles written by me have featured on online spaces and it gives me a lot of pleasure that I can write what others consume. Such include writing for Pambazuka News. It is an honour to have one’s views sought by various audiences and being able to speak out about issues affecting marginalised communities.



I have also continued participating in various global solidarity activities through information sharing, physical participation as well as signing petitions .I’m a living example that anything is possible so long as you have the determination. I have come a long way .I once was the shy girl who walked stooping because I hated my height .I was the tallest when I joined class one and was ashamed of my height.

With confidence, networking and good mentors women can go places. I continue my work with communities on issues of food, training grassroots communities on agricultural practices that ensure soil retains its fertility and discussions on climate change. I bring the voices of the marginalised to platforms deemed inaccessible .It has been a long journey, with lots of challenges.

Being a community trainer has helped open opportunities for reaching out to more community members at the grassroots .I have worked with widowed women, youth, small holder farmers and children living and working on the streets. The trainings has helped create opportunities for women to see alternatives, to speak up when their rights have been abused, space to share experiences. Continuing education has helped me increase visibility on women issues, this is achieved through sharing experiences of women in other parts of the world, sharing the resilience of Berta Caceres, celebrating the Latin American struggles and sharing this with women helps bring a new feeling that it can be done. Sharing Vandana Shiva’s rich knowledge on seeds and farming with women confirms alternatives really do exist. This has also helped influence women to occupy spaces and voice their concerns on issues, which have been muted; this has also helped challenge women to seek alternatives that work within their communities and across communities.

I have been lucky to get opportunities to give views on issues touching on climate change, women and agriculture. My learning journey is still on going; I believe learning never ends.

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