My name is Eric and I am now 27-years-old. I joined the African Children’s Choir back in 2001, at the age of ten. I was born and raised in the heart of what was then the central Kenya province called Muranga district, in a small town called Githumu. It was in 2001 that the African Children’s Choir had arranged to have its auditions take place in my hometown. Months later, I was one of the lucky few children in my village to join and tour with Choir 22 in 2002 and 2003.
Being orphaned at the age of nine left my younger brother and I with no choice but to go live with our grandmother. Life upcountry was not easy as is always the case for the less fortunate.
Despite my grandmother’s aging status, she had to fend for us. I recall my brother and I attending a school that was kilometers away from home, and every day, in the dark hours of the morning we would hit the tarmac road barefoot.
During the holidays, we would then pick up farming tools, head to the farm to tend the land and at times work on different tea plantations just to help our grandmother work less.
In general, life before the Choir meant working for everything right from food to clothing and anything else that we needed.
When I finally joined the Choir, It was such a great deal for my family, the entire village and me.
I remember when the news broke that my pal Paul, and I had been selected amongst many others to join the Choir, the whole village got to know and they were in admiration. Very few people from our village had explored the world and here we were lucky that we were going to travel with the Choir. Better still; we were getting an opportunity to be sponsored throughout school. We were the talk of the town.
Tour days were more than a dream come true for me. So many moments made highlights and what stood out most was performing in front of thousands of people in California, cruising with MV Malaspina in Alaska to and from Ketchikan, visiting the Edmonton Mall in Canada, the rodeos in Texas, Disney Land and Disney World, surfing and skiing along the gulf of Mexico, crossing the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, among many more.
There’s no doubt the Choir had a tremendous impact on my life. First of all, the exposure it gave me to the outside world opened my mind to new ways of life, learning about the western culture, both its positives and negative ways of life. Traveling with the ACC was somehow my wakeup call that there’s life beyond my own village. That anyone can work hard and travel to other countries and get a good life there.
In addition, being able to share my faith with different people through music and dance was an assertion of both God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Lastly, as a child, I’m glad that I was exposed to various career choices that I could explore when I grew-up. I learnt to value education and to work hard so as to change the lives of my family back at home.
Later, I returned home and joined a very good school in the neighboring county, Kikuyu. The school was much better than the one I had previously attended before traveling with the Choir. The facilities were much more advanced, the students were more social and also the environment was very conducive for learning.
Throughout my primary school education, I gained a lot of exposure through acquaintances with children from different cultural, social and financial backgrounds. The teachers cared so much about the student’s welfare as well as their goals, something that was far from the reality in my previous primary school.
My experience in High School was no different, other than the fact that I attended a boy’s school. Here we were all treated the same regardless of our different backgrounds. We all experienced the same learning environment as well as opportunities. This taught me to be grateful for the opportunities presented to me, and to use every chance to the best of my ability, to become the best version of myself. At the end of that journey, I performed very well in my final examinations and got the opportunity to join the Best University in Kenya, Kenyatta University.
The next four years at University saw me take on a Bachelors of Arts (Fine Arts). I have always been very good at Art and after joining the Choir and touring all over the world; I developed a strong interest for design, especially Architectural and Interior Design. I have always found it fascinating. I fancy visiting places with very tall buildings with all manner of decorative designs.
Right now, I can only look back and Give God the Glory for His wonderful and mighty works in my life.
At University, life was a lot more different than I had anticipated. There was a lot of freedom. This meant that without a purpose it would be very easy for me to lose direction and focus. Fortunately, when my studies kicked off, I landed on some really cool friends, the kind that knew what they wanted out of life. This helped me keep in sync with my goals and purpose. I toiled hard to make sure that my grades were more than satisfactory to both Music For Life and the school since I was on scholarship.
I finally completed my studies with a victorious win, graduating in 2018, with a second class honors (upper division).
Initially, while I was in school, I thought that life after graduation was a walk in the park. I would always tell myself that immediately after I graduated I would land the job of my dreams. Although it’s been a month since my graduation, things are not as I had anticipated. It is harder to actually get a good job, and even if they are available, not as well paying as I had expected. If I have learnt anything, it is that, humble beginnings lead to great endings.
Being a part of Music for Life has taught me a lot. It has given me purpose and moulded me into the man I am today. Various aspects of the organization have played a key role in shaping my character.
Through the outreach programs I’ve learnt that all lives matter. Regardless of our situations, we are all the same and we should all care for each other.
I’ve also learnt that God loves a generous heart. Whoever gives of themselves, more is added unto them. I came from a place of destitution and through Music for Life; God changed my life in a very significant way. Having been changed in this way, It is my duty to help those around me, not only financially but also intellectually by sharing knowledge and information, physically, emotionally through giving advice and emotional support and also spiritually by spreading the message of God.
Through this sponsorship, I have been able to attain an education, go through Primary, High School and University without a hitch.
Currently, I am very positive about securing myself a job in the design industry. I am working with a group of other entrepreneurs who are in the process of starting up a learning institution. I am part of the equity partners and also have a seat at the strategic team. In addition, I am involved in various initiatives like the Young Designers Forum (YDF), an initiative by the Association of Designers of Kenya (ADKe)
In the near future I want to venture deeper into the design industry, focus on lecturing, mentoring the young, writing, and also running my own firm. To be able to achieve all this, I am planning on furthering my education up to the PhD level.
I am more than grateful for the work of Music for Life and the African Children’s Choir.
If you would like to make an impact in the life of a child so they too can become a ChangeMaker like Eric, head to our Sponsorship page.