Kenyan Diaspora Women Esther Muite Ease into U.S. Culture


Kenyan Diaspora Women Esther Muite Ease into U.S. Culture

Kenyan Diaspora Women Esther Muite Ease into U.S. CultureNobody said settling in America was easy for an African migrant. But when Esther Muite came from Kenya to Nashua 20 years ago, she thought she’d be greeted at the airport with a basket full of dollars.

“I know you Americans must sometimes wonder: ‘Why does everybody want to come to this country?” Muite said alongside four of her compatriots at the New England Women’s Leadership Summit last Friday. They came to tell of their new organization, Out of Africa, which will assist other African women.

But far from free money on arrival, the five Kenyan women spoke of a mountain of obstacles they had to overcome.

“In Kenya nobody gives you nothing for free,” said Muite, 58. “You have to work for it.” And you have to work for it here, too. But in the U.S., the Kenyans found themselves working two, even three jobs. That wasn’t possible back home.

“Before long you have a big house, you have a big car, your bank account is good, you’re doing good stuff,” she said. “But your child is suffering, and not only your child, but your marriage is suffering.”

Muite said a large number of immigrant African boys are having trouble in Nashua schools. Her son, she was told, was failing at high school.

“We couldn’t believe it,” she said. “By that time our son was a drug addict. He was smoking. He was doing al the things that you never want your child to do. One child, two parents, and we couldn’t even be there for him? That was sad. It was a wakeup call for us.”

The family got in gear. Even relatives back in Kenya were calling Muite’s son, Kevin, to help push him in the right direction. And it worked. Muite said proudly that her son Kevin, 27, is pursing a doctorate in immunology at the University of Chicago.

The challenges Muite has faced seem to be common among Kenyans settled in the area. Damaris Njenga, mother of four, said when her fiance passed away, raising the kids was on her shoulders alone.

But she worked hard, and with the help of scholarships and grants, her kids are in college or on the way there.

“I decided (since) America has been so good to me, ‘What should I do? I should give back to the community,” Njenga said.

Having progressed so much in America, the women are now reaching out to their fellow immigrants through Out of Africa. Njenga wants to work to empower single women.

The organization would provide a base for African women new to the country. “We are determined not to have a community of Africans who are losers in New Hampshire,” Muite said. “We are going to do whatever we can so that they come here to this country and get the education that will make their lives different.”

Out of Africa’s goals include strengthening African women in New England and assisting them in settling to their new environment by preparing them for entry-level jobs. They plan to help women reduce their dependence on government assistance, and advocate for women when dealing with school officials.

Out of Africa will also offer cultural teachings, utilizing the knowledge of their elders through the cultural awareness they say is lost on many young immigrants.

Muite paraphrased Dr. Annabel Beerel, founder of the Women’s Leadership Summit. “If you know yourself, you will love yourself, and if you love yourself, nobody will be able to put you down.”

Out of Africa is hoping to open a center in Nashua in the coming months. And with the organization, they hope to spread their own achievements with the rest of the area’s African community.

To contact Out of Africa, email Esther Muite at


Kenyan Diaspora Women Esther Muite Ease into U.S. Culture


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