Equity Bank’s Wings To Fly is without a doubt one of the most powerful education programs in the country. I’ve been working on the stories that come out of it for some time now and it warms my heart every time I meet a young man or woman who is having their future redefined and taken into a whole different direction through the power of the opportunity handed to them.
Working on these stories has given me the opportunity to be in the presence of kids who were at the brink of hopelessness and are now on the path to bright futures thanks to Wings To Fly. I’ve also had the privilege of attending the powerful and emotional commissioning ceremonies and seen firsthand how hope can change everything.
Today’s story is about 18 year old Mariana Wanjiru Kariuki who lives with her parents and 3 siblings in Huruma Ghetto slums. Mariana and her family have been through it all as far as adversity is concerned. For instance, she was born in the streets and lived in the streets until a well wisher rented a mud house for her and her family in Mathare, and many are the times they slept hungry. That is how her life started out.
And yet as we speak, she’s currently attached at the Equity Bank Kariobangi Branch on a paid apprenticeship supporting the incoming 2021 Wings to Fly and Elimu scholars. That is how much an opportunity can permanently uplift the life of a person and the people around them.
Economic challenges aside, the family front has not always been easy on Mariana. At one point in their lives, she had to live in a children’s home as her father was undergoing rehabilitation. There was also a time when her father was raising the children alone since her mum had gone back to the streets.
Through all these things she has been through in her young life, what always shines bright about Mariana is her thirst for education, and her excellence in it. Mariana went to 3 primary schools – Pangani Primary School, Kiboro Primary in Mathare and Daima Primary in Huruma. In all these, she always topped her class. Thanks to the Wings To Fly program, she was able to get her high school education at Precious Blood Riruta where she completed last year.
She dreams of joining Kabarak University to study Pharmacy as her first choice, with Quantity Survey and Computer Science as a second option. Her ultimate goal is to get through studies, get work, and support her family members. She also wants to better the lives of other needy children like herself.
Who does she look up to in life and why?
“In many ways, my life is like Dr. Mwangi’s. We both came from humble backgrounds and worked hard to get to where we are now. Dr. Mwangi finds it in his heart to help community, not just through scholarships but in many other ways like distribution of PPEs. Through him, I have learnt that you can be successful but still have a heart for the people”.
What would Mariana like to say to Equity Bank for seeing her through school?
“You saw a chance in me and took the risk of helping me. In doing so, you have not only helped me but my entire family. Now I am working at the branch supporting with EGF roles, I am humbled to serve scholars the same way someone took time to help me when I was joining the Wings to Fly Program in 2017”.
To students who are facing the same challenges as herself, Mariana urges them to play their part. “You don’t know when help will come your way. Work hard, stay disciplined and dream big. The challenges you are facing are just stepping stones to success.
We wish Mariana all the very best.