MY STORY: Becoming a Doctor at a time of Global Health Crisis

Growing up I always fancied the white coats, not because of any particular reason but because they looked really good on the health workers who put them on. So I always told myself that when I grow up I want to be a doctor.

I went to a public primary school in the village, Kakoneni primary school, life was tough growing up in a big family and my parents had no jobs. We survived.

Against all odds I really excelled in my KCPE (end of primary school examination) and I was overjoyed. However reality dawned on me that chances of proceeding to high school were very slim considering the fact that my parents are peasant farmers and they wouldn’t afford to pay for my high school education.

Somehow we were able to raise term one school fees through the help of my primary school head teacher Mr. Herman Ruwa (great guy) and I joined The Alliance High School though a bit later than everybody else. Throughout the first year of high school, I was a worried little boy because I knew I would be sent home any time because of fee arrears.

The good thing in all this is that I was performing well in my academics as well as football (soccer) So the principal let me continue with my studies despite having a huge form one fee balance of over KES. 60000.

Form two came, and I heard about Aiducation International. They were offering scholarships to bright but needy students. I tried my luck and was successful. I got my scholarship in the second term of form two. Aiducation International cleared my fee arrears and life began, I could breathe again.

At the end of high school I got all A(s) in my final examination; KCSE. Another part of a tough journey gone.

The year 2013 is when I had a lot to reflect. I had a very grade, I could do any course at the University so I had to sit back and think if I really wanted to do Medicine and Surgery. This time round however I had plenty of mentors (Jeremy, Florian and Mrs. Muff, my Aidumaker). God knows how important they have been in my life. They offered me great insight and I ended up going for my childhood dream.

I joined the University of Nairobi, School of Medicine in 2014, for one of my longest journey in school, which was also made successful through a scholarship by Sue (you are the best).

Campus was quite a learning experience. With good times and also a load of challenges. learning new things, making friends, playing soccer having to close the University because of strikes and violent general elections.

But the most recent one was the Covid-19 pandemic where we closed school for over 6 months when we were only weeks away from doing our final examinations. It was very depressing although it was beyond our control.

Through it all I made it. I stayed strong. We kept each other sane in school and we hoped. Today I am a doctor and man, doesn’t it feel good!! Am excited to go to the field and serve my people and keep hoping that I will make a difference.

As a front line worker in the current COVID situation is risky. And we have fought and still fighting for better working conditions through provision of personal protective equipment, better insurance and even better facilities for patients. There’s an ongoing industrial action by all health care providers and it’s receiving a lot of resistance from the government. We hope that finally there will be understanding and appropriate action by all the stakeholders and we will be back to giving the services the public deserve.

In conclusion, I can say my life has been a journey. A journey of perseverance. Of resilience. Of not giving up and of eventual excellence. I hope to keep it up and also inspire others to always keep strong and never give up despite any challenge.

I have had great people to encourage and mentor me. And I have also had great exposure in other aspects of life through the various mentorship academies I attended and I am super grateful.

Joseph Baya - AiduTalent, Kenya

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