KENYA - My name is Paul Mwangi Mwaniki. I was born in 1987 in Shauri, in the Embu District of Kenya. I am the youngest of a family of four. My late mother, Dorcas Wakina, raised us thanks to the money she earned with beer illicit sales. We lived in harsh conditions. My mother wasn't able to take us to school and, during the first semester, I dropped out of primary school. It was neither my choice nor my wish to be a street child; the difficult context drove me to live in the streets.
However, each dark cloud has a silver coating. At that time, the then Anglican Church Archbishop David Gitari created a feeding programme I could benefit from. Later, a Non Governmental Organization called Plan International built for us the St. Stephen’s Children’s Home. I was elated to go back to school aiming at turning my life around.
I joined Scouting when I was studying at St. Stephen. We learnt to respect some values and principles and carried out basic drills almost every day. I also attended a Patrol Leaders course given by the then Scouts Area Commissioner Mr. Jimmy Gakuva. We really benefited from all the activities offered by Scouting. Among the major Scout events I participated to, thanks to the Extension Scouting Programme which helps children and young people in especially difficult circumstances, I can mention: the Sisi Kwa Sisi Jamboree and the 4th Africa Scout Jamboree. I was a well-known Patrol Leader in primary and secondary school.
At the end of the secondary school, I left St. Stephen. I was back home and had to face other challenges. Drawing by my Scout education, I was determined to seize an opportunity.
I am grateful to Mr. Josephat Gitonga who accepted my request to work casually at the Embu Scout Centre. This 6 months’ experience enabled me to buy food and save money. I also received an unwavering support from the other staff members.
After a long period of voluntary work, getting sponsored allowed me to complete my studies and finally to be ordained as a priest at the Anglican Church of Kenya in Embu. God continued to bless me and I undertook a Bachelor Degree in Divinity and a Master of Arts in Development and Management.
All my life and my subsequent achievements are linked to Scouting. My star hopefully shined and it completely changed my life.
It’s my prayer that God carries on blessing those who are committed to encourage Scouting among under-privileged people.