“A round of applause for our guest speaker today, Miss Juanita. Welcome.”
The students kept clapping even after she’d taken the stand. She was nervous and a little bit shaky. She could see them settle down into their chairs ready to listen to her. They had so much zeal that she doubted if she would meet their expectations. She’d given talks in so many schools and she’d never felt so nervous before. She looked down at her notes and smiled at the thought of her assistant saying, ‘Stick to the notes and you’ll be fine.’ Somehow she felt inadequate, like the notes wouldn’t just work. This audience needed more than just hours of notes from her assistant. This audience needed her to embrace the very thing she had avoided throughout her career.
“Good afternoon girls, as aforementioned, my name is Juanita Ndege. I am a lecturer and a part time motivational speaker. I’ve been to several schools before but this audience is just special. I’m not sure how or even why but I’m hoping we’ll find out. Okay?”
“Yes ma’am,” they shouted in a chorus.
“So I’m going to speak about, ‘Living a God-sized Dream‘. We all have dreams. Some want to be great politicians, others want to be doctors, others nurses and so on. This is what we want but we’ve never taken time to realise what it is God wants for us. Each one of us has been created with their own destiny to fulfill in order to contribute to the will of God. Sometimes the dreams we have for ourselves are based on our human flesh and the far we can see. This, however, might not be His plan for you as a person…”
She continued reading her notes to the girls and taking time to explain some of the points that were written down. She, however, felt like she was doing them a disservice. She’d managed to keep her story a secret for the past two decades or so because she felt people would think less of her if she told it to them. At this moment, she felt a strong urge to let go and speak it out. She cringed at the thought of telling her story. People would definitely change their perspective of her. She’d gotten used to being viewed as the daughter of a rich pastor that she didn’t want to change it. But the girls needed to hear it. They needed to know that she wasn’t always as perfect as she seemed.
“I’ve been standing here for the past one hour debating whether I should tell you this story or just continue talking and I’m not sure I’ve come to a decision so I hope I’ll find my bearing as we continue. So most of you know Juanita Ndege as the daughter to Pastor Ndege. Well, that’s not the full story,
“I was born to Mr. and Mrs. Otieno of Kamenya village in June of 1995. I am the first born and only girl in our family. I was raised in the village. At the age of nine, my parents passed away due to a pneumonia attack. We were left with my maternal grandmother. My siblings were five and four years old at the time. Despite being old and tired, our grandma made sure we never slept on an empty stomach. She would work on people’s farms and feed us. When she fell ill, she couldn’t take care of us. I had to take up the responsibility of taking care of my family at that young age. School was just a fairy tale to us,
“A year later grandma passed on and we were left alone. Everyone saw us as baggage. They didn’t want to have to add to their budget. I kept taking care of my siblings until one day someone came. My mother’s sister. She took us all in. She wasn’t some rich lady with a fancy house and so much food but she still took us in. With the little she had, she raised us. She paid our school fees from her small tomato business. Our cousins were like sisters and brothers to us. We’d finally found home and a family,
“After my class eight, I scored 314 marks. I didn’t really qualify for high school and even if I had my aunt wouldn’t manage the fees. Just when I thought God had done so much for us, he opened another door. I got a fully sponsored high school scholarship from a lovely family in the US through my second mother, Mrs. Ndege. It all seemed like those princess fairy tales my cousins always talked about. I didn’t deserve any of it but God thought I did,
“I scored a C+ in my end of secondary school examination. I hadn’t done well. I couldn’t go to the university but my mum kept encouraging and praying for me. She encouraged me to apply for a degree in education. I looked at her and asked her how it would even be possible. Who would pay my fees? The parallel programme was too expensive. She looked at me and said, ‘The Almighty will provide.’ I didn’t understand how she could have so much faith in me when I didn’t even have any in myself,
“I went ahead and applied for a Bachelor of Education (Science) degree at some University near home. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get a chance there. I was prepared for a letter of rejection. But it seems like God had it all planned out in a different way. I got provisional admission and the amount of money needed to get full admission was many thousands that scared the hell out of me at that time. Mrs. Ndege found some sponsor willing to pay the fee within a week. Believe me when I say I’ve never cried so much before. I just couldn’t control myself. Here I was, a total orphan with a future much brighter than anyone else I’d encountered in my village yet so undeserving of all of it. God simply thought that I was made for greater heights even when what everyone else could see was a poor orphaned girl…
“To shorten this story, here I am today. My siblings are coming up better than anyone expected them too. My aunt is still a blessing to me even in her old age. Its taken me years to embrace where the Lord has brought me from because I thought people would view me differently but I just thought you girls should know that it doesn’t matter your background, hell it doesn’t matter where you come from, if God has a destiny for you to fulfill He will use anyone to make sure you do. Despite the situations of pain and worry you find yourself in, if He’s got a plan for you He will surely see you through.”
When she looked up at her audience, they were all on their feet clapping vigorously. Some were in tears. Some had their faces covered in smiles. She hadn’t expected this reaction but one thing was for sure, she’d kept her word.