The value of studying abroad and earning a master’s degree in the UK could hardly have stronger proof than the case of Sammy Gitau. Born in Kenya’s most desperate slum -Mathare, a section of Nairobi where power is in the hands of criminal gangs – Sammy Gitau, now 35, has earned a master’s degree from Manchester University and plans to use his educational ‘leg up’ to help others in Mathare.
After his father’s death when he was 13, Gitau became the main financial support for his family, which he sustained by selling drugs to which he also became addicted. A near-death experience following an overdose prompted him to make what he calls ‘a deal with God.’ He told the BBC News that, during his overdoes-induced coma, he heard the hospital staff saying he would die. He promised God that if he were spared, he would do ‘anything’ – but in particular help others in Mathare.
When he was discharged from the hospital, he started a project to help children in Mathare. His established a community resource centre, where three volunteer teachers taught carpentry, baking, tailoring and computer skills to the children in classrooms constructed from donated containers. 美國留學
Around that time he found – in a rubbish dump – a copy of the Manchester University prospectus. Because of the fame of the Manchester United football ream, the name ‘Manchester’ caught his eye. Reading the prospectus, he saw references to Kenya and to a course offered by Manchester’s Institute for Development Policy and Management that offered an ‘opportunity to share development issues with people from all over the world and especially from third world countries’ and knew that it was the best avenue for turning his life around.
European Union aid officials working in Kenya got word of Gitau’s conversion, work and new academic interests and helped him apply to Manchester. Deciding that his work experience was qualification enough, Manchester admitted him and waived his study fees, and his living expenses were paid by various charities. Even so, he had hurdles to overcome in getting a visa to study in the UK.
After receiving his master’s degree in development from Manchester on December 13, Gitau is returning to Nairobi, where the centre he directs will continue its work – which has now aided more than 20,000 Kenyans – with a vastly more qualified director. What has not changed is his level of dedication. Together, they are what make Sammy run.