My name is Beldon Omondi Okeyo. I am a Kenyan citizen working in Rwanda with Joy Christian School as Principal. I am a Christian and a teacher from a very humble background. I believe God Almighty has called me to serve as a teacher and therefore he has filled me with his vision for this role. I went to a remote primary school called Apondo Primary School; a High School called St. Georges Secondary School; University of Nairobi. This brief story elucidates my reasons for becoming a teacher.
Childhood and Family Background
Deep inside a remote rural village called Apondo, I was born second to a family of eight with six boys and two girls. My dad (Lucas Okeyo) and mum’s highest level of education was grade eight which is the highest level in primary school. They got married at a tender age when my dad was 26 and mum 19 years old. My dad was a casual laborer in a mechanic shop while my mother was a housewife who did small scale farming in an area of land less than an acre large. My dad died when I was only 13 leaving us with just mum to take care of all eight of us.
Family Life with mum
“Life ahead seems bleak and dark my children but God has a way for us”. These were the words of my hopeless God fearing mother. We lived on a “hand to mouth” basis and sometimes there was no food to put on the table. We used to dig for our well-off neighbors in order to get food, which was an unreliable source at best in summer. We lived in a small mud-walled house with a rusty-leaking iron roof; water would leak right on us when it rained. We had one pair of clothes each, which we could only change when it was a day to go to church. We took porridge without sugar, vegetables without oil and food was generally hard to come by. Life was not promising; the future was dark, no relative could support us because it was the same story in the entire village. We lived in hopelessness, but mum encouraged us that God Almighty had predestined our destiny; she was a great source of inspiration to us. Mum was a hard worker, she didn’t give up, and she struggled till the day when I could stand on two feet.
“Your dad and I did not go to school, but for you, school is the only way out”. This was an everyday song sung on a serious tone by my poor illiterate mum. I kept on wondering why she could insist on sending us to school when food and other basic needs were as hard to come by as milking blood from stone. How could she insist on education that would need to be paid for?
I was in 7th grade when my dad passed on. This really affected me; I was a performer at all grades but the demise caused me a psychological trauma. God gave me a teacher by the name Mr. Joshua Odongo who taught Mathematics and Science; he became a great source of inspiration to me. He encouraged me to work hard, prayed with me, bought me the school uniform and a Luo vernacular Bible, and offered my mum and me counseling services. This help affected me deeply in my heart and really motivated me to become a teacher in future.
Results were announced for the last grade at primary level (grade 8), I emerged the top student with distinctive grades in every subject. People sympathized with my condition, but even so could not help me with the school fees for high school. God intervened by connecting me to a missionary group called Christian Missionary Society (CMS), which had a project supporting orphans and widows in the community. Oyugis Integrated Project gave my mother an option of either partially sponsoring my education or building a small house for my family; mum opted for partial sponsorship for my education.
Life was hard in high school; the project paid the tuition fee, rented single-roomed lodging, and provided some basic needs. However my family lacked food especially during school breaks when I went back home, mum tried by all means to get a casual garden job to get money to buy some food before I went back to school. When it became difficult to get a casual job, I would go to one of the church members who willingly supported me with food to get back to school.
In 2004 I sat the national examination and results were announced; I got a mean grade of B+, a second upper grade of A (distinction). This gave me a direct entry to a Public University with a full tuition fee scholarship. At that time, my elder brother dropped out of college because he wasn’t able to pay the tuition fees, and got married. There was nothing I could do to help him, and I remember it being an extremely stressful time for my mother.
I joined the University of Nairobi in 2006 to pursue a Bachelor Degree in Education. With my grades from high school, I could have opted for a Bachelor Degree course in Commerce, and other highly regarded courses, which tend to pay better, but I decided to go for an Educational Degree BECAUSE OF THE INSPIRATION FROM MY PRIMARY TEACHER AND MY EARLY CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE. I wanted to become a teacher so that I could inspire and transform young students. I graduated from the University of Nairobi in 2010 after four years, with a Second Class Honors Upper division in B. Ed (Arts) English and Literature.
I am now in the process of applying for a Master Degree course for career advancement. I thank my mum Hellen, my teacher Mr. Joshua Odongo, OI Project, and all the well-wishers for supporting me to get complete my education.
Job after studies
Apart from teaching during my internship and teaching practice in different schools as a student-teacher, I got my first contract job with Kenya Polytechnic University College as a Research Assistant to Academic Registrar for three months; with NEPAD Africa, collecting data on the NEPAD e-school program ICT Project.
I worked at Maasai Teachers Training College for seven months as an English language tutor among other educational units.
In Rwanda, I worked as a School-based English Mentor with Rwanda Education Board in charge of 69 primary and secondary teachers from June 2012 to March 2015; mentoring, monitoring, and evaluating teachers changing from Francophone to Anglophone mode of classroom instruction. I also work as a part-time lecturer with Premier ECDE Teachers College since January 2014.
Currently I’m working with Joy Christian School as Principal. This is where my passion is being fulfilled after a long search. Over the past years I have been burdened with desire to be in direct contact with and serve children.
God answered this prayer when He brought the President and the founder of City of Joy Mr. Todd Ellingson and his family into my life. Todd and his family serve as missionaries in a Rwandan village, supporting the vulnerable children and the community. This family touched my life when I met them for the first time for lunch and to interview for the position of Principal at Joy School. He called me by my name when we met and this surprised since we had not met before, I felt moved and the fear of God overwhelmed my life. My heart was at crossroads to leave the mentoring job at an institution dealing with young children in a remote village. I could not resist the call, I felt like God had answered my prayer to go and serve the young and vulnerable children. “They have come all the way from the States to come and serve in this remote African village, why not me?” my heart appealed to me at night and I decided to take up the responsibility to come and serve putting down all my other personal demands and expectations. I am happily serving and getting enough experience in serving together with the powerful team at City of Joy.
Has the life of my family changed?
My mum is alive and well, and continues to serve all my siblings plus two more adapted kids. God has really helped me to support my family by being the bread-winner; I’m currently building a better semi-permanent house for my mum and siblings, helping fund education for my three siblings in high school and primary school, and one brother at the University here in Rwanda-Kigali, I support my mum financially to cover essential, but basic necessities.
I thank God Almighty and glorify his name for changing my family life history. With Him we have hope for the future to serve and heed to His call. I currently yearn to pursue a master’s degree course in (Msc) Monitoring and Evaluation for career advancement.
I am Inspired to inspire.