My name is Ronald, I am 25-years-old and I toured with the 22nd African Children’s Choir, and after graduating high school the Young Africans 2. I come from Kenya and was raised in a slum community called Obunga in Kisumu.
My journey with the African Children’s Choir started in the year 2001. I joined the Choir when I was seven-years-old. I remember first going for the auditions at Interfelk, Kisumu. I had known about the auditions just a day before and so I had not prepared myself at all. When I got to the auditions, many other children were rehearsing. My mother was a bit thrown off and she was worried. She kept asking me whether I was ready and if I needed to practice before getting into the room where the auditions were taking place. But I kept saying to her, “Mom, I will be fine. Trust me and trust in God”.
Life before the Choir may not have been more difficult than other children’s, as I came to learn that some people had even greater problems than I did at the time. I lost my father around 2000 and that’s when our life took a U-turn. My mother, out of stress and heaviness of the burden that was left upon her to take care of my three brothers (Edward, Austin and Erick) and two sisters (Anne, Vivian), started ailing.
She became bedridden. We all had to drop out of school to take care of her, taking odd jobs to put food on the table. Life wasn’t easy at all because we at times slept hungry for days. The little we got, we gave to our mother for she was our priority.
My mother was a chang’aa brewer (local illicit brewer). Before we knew it, we too were introduced into the system and did the same job for the years that followed. And at a young age, we had to deal with the difficulties of doing an illegal job, as we were always on the wrong side of the law.
Joining the Choir had a profound impact on my life, it took another turn but for the better. At least my education was guaranteed through sponsorship, and I came to realize my unlimited potential; I was able to travel to different parts of the world, including the United States, which was an eye opener. I was able to see the other side of the world and to get out of that cocoon in my village. It gave me a family that I did not have at the time, the African Children’s Choir. And after so many years later, through the Music for Life sponsorship program, I’ve been able to achieve many of my dreams.
It took me to some of the best schools in Kenya. For Primary school, I attended Mudasa Academy. I was a head boy for three years in primary school and finally emerged best student with Grade A, after sitting for the nationals (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education Examinations).
I then joined Alliance High School, a top National school in Kenya. High school gave me the best experience ever and I cannot complain. I took part in the school band, played the trumpet and enjoyed making music because that’s one of my greatest gifts that African Children’s Choir helped nurture.
Once again, I graduated High School with top grades (Grade A) in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, and I was even more grateful that I had made it that far.
Sadly, I had lost my mother on 12th March, 2011 and what broke me was that she did not live to see my success. It was a very hard time for me, and I have never recovered from it. She had been my pillar and only hope, she was the reason for my hard work.
Since my childhood, I had always dreamed of becoming a Surgeon or an Engineer. After High School, I decided to study Telecommunications and Information Technology Engineering. My family’s situation was one of the factors that inspired me to study Engineering. But also, I do have a passion for computers and technology and Maths and Physics.
In December 2018, I graduated with a First-Class Honors in Telecommunications and Information Technology from Kenyatta University. I joined the university on 3rd September, 2014 to pursue my degree. Being at University is fun, although it has its challenges like I personally didn’t prefer the early morning classes but I disciplined myself into attending them. One has to deal with so many issues like from peer pressure to balancing things between school work personal problems.
Life after school is quite interesting. I thought after graduation, life would be easy and having done a great course at university, I would get a job immediately. I’ve come to realize that isn’t the case, you have to work hard for it. It’s not as the picture that’s always painted on the wall for us; it is a whole different scenario.
I was extremely happy when my family came for my graduation. That was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Talking about family, both my African Children’s Choir family and biological family attended the graduation ceremony.
My dream is to work for a big Telecommunications company. I pray and hope that I too will someday help someone else to get to where I am. What Music for Life has done for me, I will reciprocate by giving a helping hand to someone else that needs one.