Volunteering ushered me into greatness
Lucy Mutiso offered free services as a church administrator and this gave her a chance to learn and acquire skills on charity work. Unknown to her, the opportunity prepared her to become chief executive of a non-governmental organisation
By Mary Kinuthia
Volunteers do not necessarily have the time to do so; they just have the heart. And so when Lucy Mutiso volunteered as an administrator at a local church in 2002 as a college student, she had no much thought for doing so except the need to fill up her time.
But one thing Lucy noted was volunteering in a church set-up is considered less prestigious and sometimes one’s input often goes unrecognised. However, she maximised the opportunity by learning administrative skills, interpersonal skills, communication and public relation skills coupled with some knowledge in printing technology.
“Still as an administrator, I got involved in various projects including high school outreach programmes and youth empowerment programmes. I also headed a children feeding and education programme in Kawangware ran by the church; little did I know it was preparing me for motherhood earlier than I anticipated,” Lucy recalls.
Lucy remembers how overnight she became a mother of three “children”. She recalls that heartbreaking moment when her younger sister lost her husband. Compelled by her love for her sister and her two children, she had to step in for fear that the kids may end up in the street. “Life was tough at first. I was living in a small house in Satellite, Nairobi. Providing school fees for the children, food and rent was a task, but at least I could afford second hand clothes (mitumbas) for the children from the little money I got from volunteering,” she says.
Many of her close relatives thought the move to take in her sister was unrealistic as she was still a student. “We lost our dad when we were young and our mum couldn’t bear the heavy responsibility of raising us alone. My sister’s late husband family was not financially capable to support her. The two had just started life together, and so they didn’t have much wealth to sustain her and her children. Nonetheless, all I wanted was to provide a home for these children and make them feel the warmth and love of a family,” she adds.
Life took a turn in 2008, when she got a job as an administrator in a non-governmental organisation, Christian Learning Materials Centre (CLMC). “This time we could afford a decent life,” she says.
While working as an administrator in CLMC, she decided to further her education and pursued Public Relations at a local university where she attended evening classes. “This paid off because in 2015, while in my early 30s, I got a promotion as the organisation’s CEO,” she states. Although this was a heart desire met, she recounts how intimidating it was, especially comparing herself with the rest in a similar position who seemed older, more educated and more experienced than she was at that time.
She purposed to go against all odds. Today she has initiated many programmes putting the organisation on the limelight as they develop children learning materials that are age appropriate and tailor-made for Africa. One notable programme includes Print on Demand. This was introduced with an intention of serving individual authors, encouraging them to write and print their resources at an affordable cost even in cases where they don’t have to print in bulk.
Baby Steps is another of her initiative, whose goals is to train expectant mothers on how to talk to their children while still in the womb and after they deliver, as most people assume babies do not understand anything. This helps in building a lasting bond between the mother and child and helps babies to listen and learn.
Lucy, a firm believer is also a pastor. She is one of the pioneering pastors of Uzima Centre Church, along Thika Road.
Despite her busy schedule, Lucy creates time for painting and crocheting, urges everyone, to pursue their purpose in life without despising the humble beginnings. “It is possible to learn new skill by taking advantage of every opportunity given whether it pays or not,” she advises.
She sums it up all with one word, purpose. “Everyone has a purpose, which they should be committed to discover and pursue. I normally liken a human being to an industry, which because of its various functional and well-equipped departments is able to produce desirable final product that benefits many. If you see yourself as an industry, you can always pull something useful from your internal pool of skills and experience, which makes you effective in accomplishing your purpose.” Lucy concludes.