Sarah Njeri Nganga: Kenyan, Female, Christian and Proud ex- US Marine
The chance to migrate to the United States is a dream of many Kenyans. With the Green Card lottery, many Kenyans have sleepless nights thinking of what they would do if they win the path to green pastures in the United States of Amazement. Though the benefits can be worth the wait, it is not always green pastures after arrival in the United States. There are many stories told about the experience.
Recently a young husband in St. Louis Missouri told me, “It cost me over 300,00Ksh from the time I registered for the lottery to the time I arrived in the United States”. When he came to the United States, he had to stay with his uncle who had sponsored him. “I thought I would find things laid out for me, but I found out the hard way that I had to start from square one in a country whose culture was completely foreign to me and my wife . . . Imagine.” He explained trying to sound positive.
The family of Sarah Njeri wa Nganga got the dream chance to come to the United States in 2000. Her father had applied before the 1998 Nairobi terror attack on the US embassy. After the blast, the paper work got all messed up and they had to wait until 2000 to realize their dreams. By this time, Sarah had gone to the Nairobi University and settled on the idea that this was her life. Therefore when her father finally brought the news to her, she was torn into two. “Given that my father had worked so hard, I decided to migrate with the rest of the family”.
They arrived in Virginia and after settling in an apartment, her brothers joined high school but for her, she had to wait to join college. “I stayed home with my mother and got very depressed. I wondered why I had left my settled life in Nairobi University to come and now stay home waiting to get into college.” Finally, she got into a community college. She did not fit in. She had no friends and spent much of her time alone. “This was the lowest time in my life.” she says shaking her head. It was rough on her young life.
On one occasion, the family attended the Kenya Christian Fellowship in America (KCFA). There, she found a Kenyan who had invited one of the Marine recruiters. The recruiter came in full uniform and Sarah was introduced to him. He convinced her to join the Marines. Given that she hated her college, hated being at home with her mother, she was bored, out of place and just completely disgusted with life, she joined the Marines.
On the bus to the boot camp, her emotions went wild. “I began to question why I was joining the Marines. I thought I had gone crazy”! However, after training, she was posted in Japan. “This turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. There I made friends, was assigned to the food and Beverage and enjoyed every part of it.” She found herself again.
As she recounts her experience in the US Marines, her face lights up and her hands move as she explains how well she was treated, how much respect she was shown, how good her comrades were, and the wealth of experience she got. “The marines saved my life!” She says proudly. She believes that if she had stayed home with her mother, her depression would have turned out to other things which would have ruined her life. “God had His angels on me. The marines experience was God’s plan to save my life in America.” She says proudly with a facial expression that proclaims Gods providence, grace and her resolve to pursue her dream in America. For this Kenya Christian female, the Marines motto remains true: The few, the Proud, the Marines. Add, Kenyan, and Christian!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau, PhD, Director: International Desk/ SYR/Radio/TV. Diaspora messenger Contributor