Growing up, I was never the social kid that would often go out to play with other kids in the hood. I was a shy little boy who kept to himself most of the time, staying indoors and glued to his old “Great Wall” black and white tv all day during the holidays. This went on till high school where I was in a reputable mixed catholic school which had the privilege of having the Diocese Bishop as the Director of the school. I had just transfered from another reputable school, Nguviu High School, best known as Bluxx in my time (don’t know if the name still exists) and in this new school, well, I had to adapt to being social, considering I was immediately made a Deputy Captain. This new responsibility breathed a bit of new life into me, making a few friends and made more friends the following year when I represented the school for the first time in the school’s history in the District and Provincial Music Festivals doing a French poem recital. This was no mean fete as I had to do months of endless French language training. Representing the school in the annual festivities made some kind of ‘celebrity’ for having mastered this foreign language so well yet the school never offered the language in its curriculum, and from this, I had no choice but be more social.
Done with school and college, I chose to go back to keeping a low profile and being reserved, first owing to my job at the time as an auditor in a fast-growing utility company in Embu and second, it was more peaceful this way. As far as I remember, I have never been one to love attention from people and would in most time choose to shun the limelight.
From this excerpt of my life, I guess it’s right to surmise that I’ve been a shy person for nearly half of my life. It was more a way of life for me, keeping to myself and saying little especially when I am among new people. But all this changed one year into my job when a close friend told me about this new club that was doing amazing things for the community. He knew it’d definitely get my attention since community service was among my other passions besides poetry and blogging. He explained all about Rotary and the club in Embu while having our cold beers at our favorite joint. The Rotary Club of Embu was looking for young professionals between the ages of 18 and 30 years to start a new Rotaract Club in Embu and whose aim would be Service Above Self and Professional Development. With such a resume, how can I sa no, I remember telling him as he ordered for the next round of beers.
Three years down the line, I have no regrets saying yes to joining this amazing Rotaract. The benefits over the years have surely surpassed the challenges, one being zero support from my parents. They had this perception that being in Rotaract it’s a waste of time and money with no real purpose or feasible short-term benefits. It was until recently when I successfully organized a mentorship event for high school students in my hometown that they were able to understand what Rotary is all about.
Why have I stayed in Rotary/Rotaract till now, you ask?
- Being in Rotaract, the major objective is developing onself professionally and enhancing leadership skills. Every Rotaract, at one point becomes a leader in their respective clubs. This helps in preparing members for future leadership roles. For instance, professionally, I’ve grown from one career to another with each preceding role bearing more responsibility. In Rotaract, starting out as the Charter International Service Director, becoming a Public Relations Director a year later and now holding the role of Assistant Director Public Relations for the Rotaract District 9212. The leadership skills that I have racked up from these roles have clearly helped me in evolving into a responsible young man capable of holding any leadership role.
- The most obvious reason, FRIENDS! In the years I’ve been in Rotaract, I’ve been able to make more friends than I ever did prior to joining the organization. My simple definition of Rotaract is it’s a family. Whenever I attend my club assemblies, it feels am at home, enjoying the great presence of other members and where we believe, one member’s joys and sadness is the entire club’s joy and sadness. This sense of family has drawn me to always be drawn into Rotaract and often I find myself getting scared transitioning to Rotary because you’d be bidding au voir to this family and joining a new one.
- Endless opportunities to serve the community is one other reason am a die-hard Rotaractor. Nothing ever gives me more joy than serving the community. My charter club supports a children’s home for the physically disabled kids and every time we’d spend with them, would bring happiness in my heart – seeing the kids brighten up as we engage them in some game, read stories, clean their dormitories and lavatories – the smile would just tell how much the kids appreciated us being there with them. Every opportunity I get to support a community service project somewhere convinces me that am taking part in ensuring we leaving the community better than we found it.
There are definitely other reasons why I’m forever stuck in Rotaract, like hoping to get a wife (kidding) from among the many Rotaractors residing Kenya. It’s no joke, I know of many friends who’ve found love in Rotaract and even ending up in marriage. There’s also the opportunity to travel and see the world through attending of annual assemblies and conventions hosted in different cities, scholarships, career growth etc. My list is endless. But one thing is for sure and that am in Rotary to stay.