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Chami is from Indiana in the US. She visited Kenya for the first time in 2011 when she was 17 on a charity mission with her church. After she returned home two weeks later, she could not stop thinking about Kenya, sure that this was where her destiny lay, even though she could not explain why.

“We stayed at a guest house around Yaya (Centre in Nairobi), close to the orphanage our church had assigned us to. We would hold the babies and help feed and clean them. On our last day, we visited Kibera slums courtesy of one of our members who had made numerous trips to Kenya in the past,” she says.

That visit left a lasting impression on her.

“I was yanked out of my little bubble and awoken to a new reality. By then, I’d fallen in love with the culture and the warmth of the Kenyan people I’d met, and on my flight back home, I felt in my gut that I’d to return, but never did I imagine that meant a permanent immigration,” she adds.

Her yearning to return was so pronounced that her elder brother once teased her, saying, “Chami, you keep making reference to Kenya, did you score a boyfriend there on your last trip?”

Two years later, in 2013, she informed her parents that she wanted to return indefinitely. To her surprise, they gave her their blessings.

PACKED BAGS

“I was brought up amongst four brothers, which toughened me up and made me independent [and] which perhaps explains why I packed my bags and decided to move to a foreign country, thousands of miles away, where I barely knew anyone,” she says.

She dropped the bombshell over breakfast.

“I said, ‘Mom, dad, there’s something you need to know, I want to relocate to Kenya.’ They simply looked at each other and smiled, then mom placed her palm over my sweaty fist and said, ‘it’s been a long time coming, we have been waiting.”

She adds: “I’d been prepared for a contest because my three elder brothers had joined university straight from high school and I had shown interest in wanting to become a nurse,” she explains.

For a year before their relocation to Kenya, Chami and her best friend Holly Peters tirelessly fund-raised for the trip from family and friends. As the trip neared, they made accommodation plans with their Kenyan contact, Moses Wafula, whom they had met on their first trip.

Come 2013, they were ready to make the big leap. They bought baby toys and clothes, packed their bags, and after an emotional farewell party thrown by their families, they set out for Kenya.

WATCHING MOVIES

“I slept through most of the flight while Holly stayed awake watching movies. At 11.30 pm after check out, we spotted our contact Moses at the exit standing next to the white van that would take us to our new home in Olympic, Kibera.”

Moses and his friends, including John, who ran a feeding programme in Kibera, had got the two a place at their married friends’ three-bedroom house, where they lived for a month until they got their own one-bedroom flat in the same area.

The first six months of their stay were dedicated to learning Swahili. With no source of income and fully dependent on the fund-raised money, the two friends had to learn to work with a tight budget.

Their apartment almost always had children coming in and out to play with the toys, which hastened their grasp of Swahili.

Chami and Holly also began helping out with the feeding programme, which would be the beginning of a love story she and John cherish. Says John: “Once a week, my friends and I, who were raised in Kibera, would gather children from the neighbourhood and serve them a meal, but the number of children kept swelling every week and we began to get overwhelmed in terms of money as well as a helping hand.”

It was, therefore, a relief when Chami and Holly joined them on a voluntary basis, and before long, the six of them had formed a formidable team.

BIBLE LESSONS

“Feeding took place at a community hall in Olympic, close to where we lived. We would wake up around 4am to get the fire started, while the girls would join us at around 6am to help cook,” recalls John.

“The first child would walk into the hall around 9am carrying a plate, and after their meal, we’d engage them in singing and bible lessons. Within months, the children had grown to hundreds, and Holly and I decided to help finance the project,” says Chami.

There was also a shift in age group attendance, with teenagers thronging the hall as well, prompting the group to expand the initiative and start offering guidance and counselling.

This is how Born To Shine, BTS, came about.

couple

John Mwatu Oyoo and his wife Chami Lu Anne Oyoo and their children Brielle Praise and Jasmine Rose during the interview in Nairobi on May 30, 2020. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

At the moment, BTS brings together about 30 teenagers who learn life lessons on Fridays, Bible study on Wednesdays, and prayer sessions every Monday. Once in a while when money allows, the group goes on hikes and camping, which is a good bonding experience for all of them.

I was awed by her patience

Onto the lover story…

“On several occasions, I caught John looking at me in a certain way; I even once caught him absent-mindedly staring at me while I took some girls through a Bible class but I thought nothing of it,” says Chami.

John smiles and says: “I was awed by her patience towards the children and how dedicated she was to this project. I was getting attracted to her.”

A few months later, Chami and Holly decided to move to a bigger house, a two-bedroom apartment, and on this day, their friends, including John, came to help them move. Chami noticed that John was more attentive to her than he usually was, and would not allow her to carry heavy luggage, besides repeatedly asking whether she was fine.

A few days later, as they were going about serving the children at the community hall, a small boy fell and broke a thumb. John and Chami went to his rescue and rushed him to hospital where he had to undergo surgery. The two ended up spending the rest of the day at the hospital’s waiting room waiting for the boy’s guardian to arrive.

“We had no option but to bond. I picked up that John was very keen on current affairs, which I found attractive and still do.”

Says John: “As unexpected as that day was, it turned out to be our first date. Before then, Chami and I had never been alone together. We were always in the presence of other people. Besides her being beautiful, I was won over by how humble and modest she was.”

By the time the boy’s guardian arrived at 5pm, the two had developed a connection which emboldened John to ask Chami out on a date.

“But she wouldn’t agree to a date until I called her parents to seek their permission. She gave me her dad’s number, and out of fear, it took me a week to make that call. Mobile network was poor and our accents were a barrier, but I eventually got his approval to date his daughter,” says John, amused at the memory.

“Our courtship was humble because we directed most of our money to our community project. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful courtship. We took nature walks, went hiking and shared jokes that only the two of us could understand, besides serving our community together,” says Chami.

They also found out that besides their love for serving, both of them were brought up in Christian homes where church was introduced at an early age and encouraged through their younger years. Also, both came from happy homes characterised by a lot of laughter and support from their parents.

In 2014, sure that she was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, John proposed.

“I bought Chami a ring, and on her birthday, I wore an orange, floral shirt (which used to be my lucky shirt until she threw it out after we got married) and took her to a modest Chinese cake shop and proposed. She said ‘yes’.”

Both their parents, John says, were happy about their upcoming marriage, and being the parent nearest them, John’s father took time to counsel them before their wedding in 2015.

In April of that year, on a cold rainy day, the couple held a small church wedding with 30 guests. Unfortunately, Chami’s family was not able to attend, and followed the ceremony via Skype.

“We would have wanted them to be there, but had to make peace with [their absence]. The wedding was beautiful! I especially enjoyed the photo session and the dancing,” she says.

John describes his first visit to Indiana as “very surprising”.

THREE MONTHS

“I expected the usual official treatment in-laws receive in my culture, but was pleasantly surprised by how laid back their culture is. My father-in-law welcomed me with a hug and even let me stay in his home during the duration of our visit.”

They visit Chami’s family once a year for three months. Recently, the couple, who have two daughters, celebrated their fifth anniversary. Their marriage has not been without challenges, especially due to the glaring cultural differences.

“Fish was a recurring subject at the beginning of our marriage because Chami could not bring herself to eat tilapia with the “head staring” at her, as she put it.

“However, where I come from, tilapia is a delicacy eaten whole. We only leave the bones. We feast on everything else,” says John eliciting laughter from Chami, who adds that to date, she cannot bring herself to eat omena, which John loves.

Cook Kenyan foods

Another challenge is Chami’s skin colour, which John says has exposed the couple to some level of bias. Some place her on a pedestal, while many more assume that she has lots of money due to her skin colour.

Chami says that besides these, the other challenges have been easier to navigate with technology, including learning how to cook Kenyan foods.

“I learnt to cook most Kenyan dishes by watching YouTube videos. I especially love cooking chapatis and samosas. I also learnt to care for my daughters’ beautiful curly hair through YouTube. The trick is to minimise shampooing, keeping it moisturised and using certain oils.”

GOOGLE MAPS

And when travelling on her own, Google Maps has ensured that she gets home every time she visits new places. Over time, she says, they have found a way to navigate the challenges. They currently live in Kajiado North, Kajiado County.

Meanwhile, they continue with their community projects in Kibera. As they carried out their BTS programme, they noticed that there was a gap between the time a teenager left high school and joined college, a gap they decided to fill by forming what they call ‘ex-candidate programme’.

They teach life lessons and skills such as cooking, baking, driving lessons and computer classes, skills they believe will, to a large extent, prepare their young charges for the real world.

In 2016, the couple and their friends officially registered Endless Frontier Foundation.

“Our vision is to reach the youth of Kibera while still young and offer discipleship and leadership skills,” says John, who works full time for the organisation as a director.

The group gets most of its funding from Endless Frontier Foundation-US in form of grants, as well as from individual donors. However, the needs surmount the money they manage to raise, but despite this, they trudge on, determined to make a positive impact on the lives of youth in their community.

Covid-19 has exposed many poor families in the slum to abject poverty, forcing them to divert more money to the feeding programme and food donations.

So far, they have provided food relief to 189 families and are calling upon well-wishers to donate to help feed more families.

At the moment, the initiative feeds over 1,000 children every year and has seen great transformation in the lives of many. For instance, this year, three girls that they support were admitted at Moi Girls High School on sponsorship basis while one boy was admitted at Sunshine Secondary School.

Though 2020 has been the most challenging year for the group’s charitable initiatives, they are hopeful that the future holds better prospects.

Would you want to help?

Send your contribution to:

Account Number

0382218002

Endless Frontier Foundation

Diamond Trust Bank

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Africa

Why all the hullabaloo about the 2-year US student visas for Kenyans?

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BY BOB MWITI
There has been a lot of outcry about the latest news that Kenyan students will be getting 2-year US student visas instead of 4 years as it has been the case before. I have received several messages from my followers asking clarification on what this means.
It is said that the main reason for the latest student visa changes is because Kenya is one of those countries whose students have notoriously overstayed their visas. Quite true though!
Well, rather than create a fuss about this drastic change by the US government, let’s first of all ask ourselves, why do we overstay our visas, and how can we solve this issue of visa overstay.
I will first address the overstay issue before I give you my view on the ramifications of the new 2-year visa changes.
Please note that this post may make some people “catch feelings”, but that is fine. As someone with an organization that deals with student matters in America, I have an obligation to educate those prospective smart international students who religiously follow me and consume my content. If you are not one of them, it is fine, just pass this!…Ok?
You see, us Africans never talk about undocumented immigrant issues openly here in America, mostly because they affect almost every one of us. Almost every household know one or two people who do not have the right immigration papers, and therefore it is an extremely sensitive topic to address.
However, people back home need to know these things so that they can make an informed decision.
Here in the US, about 30-40% of African immigrants do not have the right immigration papers. Meaning they live and work in America illegally.
One interesting fact is that majority of this group of our people came to America as International students. They never crossed the border illegally! They went to the embassy, were given a visa and were admitted at the US airport, but somehow, they found themselves in this situation of not having the right immigration documents.
I have always said this a million times, that as an international student, one of the most challenging thing that you will ever face if you want to live and work in USA is to figure out how to transition from a student to a permanent resident.
Majority of our students come here blindly without really thinking about how they will make that transition. No one tells them before they leave Africa. They come here and then they are surprised with what they must do.
One of the major problems us Africans have and continue to make the same mistake repeatedly, is coming to USA without enough funds to take care of our studies as international students.
You know how we normally do it? We get just enough to push us through school for one semester, and then hope that we will be able to work and pay for the school fees.
Who told you that you can earn enough to pay for your school fees? Do you know how much it costs to study here? Do you know that as an international student you are only allowed to work 20 hours a week on a minimum wage and that this kind of money is barely enough to pay your rent?
You see, if we keep making the same mistake, we will continue suffering as international students.
If you are a smart prospective international student, you need to make sure that you have enough funds to push you through school in America. If not, you will drop out of school and fall out of status and once you do that, you will become an illegal alien.
The consequence of being an illegal immigrant is that it is extremely hard to work in corporate America, even if you are smart. You will end up working those odd Jobs that a lot of Africans do. They do those jobs because, those are the only jobs one can do if they do not have the right papers.
Now, you may ask yourself, how do you get enough funds to take care of your education in America?. There are options for unsecured international student loans and loans that require a cosigner. This is a great option for needy smart student who want a US education.
When I came to US as an international student, I realized majority of Indian students study in the US on student loans. Only Africans do not….and these Indians complete their studies and work good jobs in corporate America. Such jobs come with work visa, and most of these work visas are taken up by them.
The US government offers 140,000 employment-based green cards every year and each country is allotted 9,800 of those visas, yet very few of us Africans get them. 80% go to Indians!…..Reason being, Indians complete their studies, and remain in good standing under the law and therefore are able to transition seamlessly.
Most Indian students know what career trajectory they will take, even before they land here. One time I asked an Indian friend of mine that I was working with, if before he came to study in USA, he knew whether he would be doing the same IT consulting job he was doing at that time. Do you know what he said?…”heck yea!..I knew it!”.
Guess what?, for me when I left Kenya, I had no idea what would happen to me after I got to America. I came here blindly like millions of other Africans do. Vastly different from what these Indians do. No wonder they are many steps ahead of us on so many levels.
Indians are richest group of people in America. They make more than the white Americans, and yet they came to USA as immigrants just like us……and majority came as students on student loans!!..Yes!..Student loans!
Very few Africans get permanent residency through employment, and yet it is one of the easiest ways to transition from a student to a skilled worker in USA.
Unless we figure things out, we will keep struggling in getting the right immigration papers in USA.
Now back to the 2-year visa issue. In one of my episodes on my popular show “Success with Bob Mwiti”, I actually addressed the issue of what a visa and an immigration status mean.
So, let me clarify, A visa is just a stamp you get on your passport that allows you to leave you country and seek admission at the port of entry here in the US.
Once you land here in the US as s student, you must attend the school and maintain your immigration status as a student. Key word here is MAINTAIN. Failure to do so will make you become an illegal alien and if you are caught you may be deported.
So, what really matters once you are here in the US as a student, is that your immigration status is current as shown on your SEVIS record which is tied to your I-20 document not your visa stamp!!..ok?
Let me clarify this a bit, let’s say you have 5-year visa like it was before, and you come here and drop of out of school due to school fees issues after one semester. Then even though you had 5-year visa stamp on your passport, you will be out of status and you could be deported.
Now assume, you got 2-year visa on your passport, and you came for a 4-year undergraduate program and you have been studying smoothly, and by the 3rd year, your visa has expired. What that means is that, even though your stamp is expired, you will still be fine because your immigration status as shown on your SEVIS record via your I-20 is still intact. What matters is your SEVIS record on your I-20 document!
The only slight concern with this 2 year visa when studying a 4 year course is that, if for any reason you decide to travel outside the US after 2 years, then you will have to attend a student visa interview. If you were in school throughout, you will never have a problem getting your student visa renewed, but if you did not maintain your status then you will be in trouble.
In conclusion, what we need to fix is our mentality on the best way to migrate to USA as international students and how to get the funding needed to take care of our education in America.
There are abundant opportunities for smart students in America and Indians have figured this out, and yet us Africans keep languishing down there with low paying jobs and lack of immigration documents. Unless we fix that, we will keep on struggling and it will become harder to get these student visas at the US consulates!
A Little Bit About Me!
I am a former international student in USA and I am a senior IT consultant in the areas of Oracle EBS Financials and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) here in USA. I am the programs director of Appstec America – A consulting company based in Tampa, Florida, USA.
I’ve been blessed to have learned a lot in my career as an IT consultant. My life has truly changed, and I’ve made it my mission to give back and serve others beyond myself.
Whether that be helping you to relocate to USA as an international student, train you as an IT consultant, help you start and build your own online business, creating your financial freedom, motivating you to pursue your goals and dreams, to being more productive, to inspiring you to constantly improve yourself.
My mission is to get you to wake up to the unlimited potential within you and achieve what you’re truly capable of through my various self-development training programs.
On the internet, I openly and passionately share my life experiences and all of the very best concepts, strategies, tools, and resources that I continue to discover that have made a measurable difference to my life, and will do for you as well.
Keep your dream alive and never give up!

To learn about our Kenya airlift program, a program that is transforming the lives of brilliant young Kenyans, please go to www.mastersforsmartkenyans.com

Feel free to contact me at success@successwithbobmwiti.com or info@appstecamerica.com or you can call me at  +1 813-573-5619 ext 402

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Diaspora

5 things to know about H-4 dependents visa for skilled workers in USA

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BY BOB MWITI,

Did you know that as a dependent for a skilled worker who is on H-1B visa, you can get a visa that can enable you to accompany your spouse to USA?. Well, in this episode of Success With Bob Mwiti Show, I break down the 5 things that you need to know about H-4 visa.

H-4 Visa is a visa that is issued to dependents of H-1B visa holders. If you like my work, please subscribe to my YouTube channel for more informative content about studying, living and working in the United States.

 

A Little Bit About Me!

I am a former international student in USA and I am a senior IT consultant in the areas of Oracle EBS Financials and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) here in USA. I am the programs director of Appstec America – A consulting company based in Tampa, Florida, USA.

I’ve been blessed to have learned a lot in my career as an IT consultant. My life has truly changed, and I’ve made it my mission to give back and serve others beyond myself. Whether that be helping you to relocate to USA as an international student, train you as an IT consultant, help you start and build your own online business, creating your financial freedom, motivating you to pursue your goals and dreams, to being more productive, to inspiring you to constantly improve yourself.

My mission is to get you to wake up to the unlimited potential within you and achieve what you’re truly capable of through my various self-development training programs.On the internet, I openly and passionately share my life experiences and all of the very best concepts, strategies, tools, and resources that I continue to discover that have made a measurable difference to my life, and will do for you as well.

Keep your dream alive and never give up! To learn about my company’s amazing programs, please go to;

www.appstecamerica.com or www.successwithbobmwiti.com

Contact me at;
success@successwithbobmwiti.com
info@appstecamerica.com
+1 813-573-5619 ext 402

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Diaspora

You can easily migrate to and work in the US if you have these extraordinary abilities

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US Citizenship and Immigration Services has published a new section in the USCIS Policy Manual relating to the O nonimmigrant classifications. O-1 nonimmigrant status is available for aliens of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, business, education, and athletics, and aliens with a record of “extraordinary achievement” in the motion picture or television industry, who are coming to the United States temporarily to work in their area of ability or achievement. O-2 nonimmigrant status is available for essential support personnel coming solely to assist an O-1 artist or athlete.

The new section expands guidance on evaluating O-1 eligibility, including how officers determine if the petitioner has satisfied the evidentiary criteria and established that the beneficiary has extraordinary ability or extraordinary achievement, as applicable. It also clarifies when a petitioner may rely upon “comparable evidence” to meet the requirements for certain O-1 beneficiaries.

USCIS is also incorporating existing guidance relating to certain nonimmigrant athletes, coaches and entertainers (otherwise known as the P-1, P-2, and P-3 nonimmigrant classifications), and their essential support personnel into the Policy Manual.

For more information, see the USCIS Policy Manual.

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