“In a meeting. Will talk to you later.”
This was a response text to a stranger. A stranger who felt she had something deep inside, but did not know where and how to start. A stranger who was having a tag of war between herself and her dreams. That stranger was me.
Being always outstanding in primary and high school, it was difficult for me to adapt to campus. This is because everyone was outstanding, mostly for the wrong reasons. I on the other hand wasn’t sure which birds to flock with. I felt the urge to flock with more experienced birds that would protect me from hungry hawks.
One hot afternoon as I sat on the partly cemented verandah outside our home in Nyeri, I dived into the deep end of my thoughts. From a distance, I could hear Loise Kim, a vernacular gospel musician singing a talent song.
“You will give back your talent and prove that you put it to work,” Loise sang.
I felt awakened. I loved writing. But to my judgment, I wasn’t squeezing enough out of this. Immediately I got into the net with my now ‘dead’ Samsung galaxy mini, not to mention it was a China model. I was searching for the pronounced conservationists in Kenya. Why conservationists?
I was in my first year in Karatina University, doing a degree in Environmental Studies, but that was just not enough. There was a void; an empty void that needed to be filled. I needed to blend my studies with something beautiful.
David Bwakali of Environmental Africa was the first person my search landed me on. I went through his profile as well as the Environmental Africa website. This is what I have been looking for. A website full of amazing environment-based articles. This was it!
Since primary school, I was always the best composition writer. (Not to blow my trumpet). I always found myself writing, writing and writing. I never had any topics in mind, but I kept a diary in which I did all the writing. This was how I emptied my thoughts, worries and joys. It was always a great satisfaction.
Back to Environmental Africa. The first thing that caught my eye on this website was a photo of Prof Wangari Maathai, under a topic, Sustainability Stars. My heart throbbed. I love Wangari. She gives me a reason to wake up each morning and leave a legacy. Like her, I wanted to live a conservation legacy that would outlive me for a long, long time. Later on when I attended the beatification ceremony of Sister Irene, the exceptional Italian sister who devoted her life to service, I was also inspired to commit myself to both writing and conservation with utter passion.
When I first came across the Environmental Africa website, I scrutinized it to the last word. At the bottom of the site was a phone number. I wished and hoped this was David’s number. Just when I wrote it down, I received an SMS from Safaricom…
“Your data bundle is below 2.00 MB…” Often when I see this message, my heart crushes because it simply means another credit hustle. But my heart was beating excitedly as I finally had a lead to someone whom I was almost sure was the one I had been looking for.
I immediately loaned some Kshs 5 bundles from Safaricom, just to send a Whatsapp message to this number.
“Hallo Mr. Bwakali…” I texted, hoping against hope that it was indeed his number. (I later on realized he dislikes the ‘Mr’, so Bwak works for me). I couldn’t imagine if I had called a lady Bwakali She would probably have texted back ruthlessly then blocked my number. You know how ladies are…
My first message went unreplied, but the double ticks were evidence that the receiver had read my message. Ambitiously, I texted again introducing myself and saying many other things, wondering if he cared to know. I was hoping to get into the right side of his nerves.
After a while, I got a reply. It was David! I’ve always had a stereotype that most high profile people hardly reply to strangers. But he proved me wrong. He was in a meeting, but got back to me later on.
After some time of knowing each other and proving I was no hoax, we got down to business. Through David, I got to resurrect my writing spirit and merged it with my passion for conservation. Just like him. I am probably at the ‘Bwakali Junior’ stage. Striving each day to be more like him.
Through David’s mentorship, I got to coordinate a ‘Rivers of Love Campaign’ which involved so much creative writing, sharing river stories with students all over the country. Environmental Africa as well has become a home for me. A platform I will forever be grateful for.
Each day I write a new article, it feels like a new experience of writing and growth. Though at times it’s hard to strike a balance between my books and my magic pen, there’s always a way where a will exists.