The knees of many great men buckle underneath the slightest pressure; and why you may ask? One is only as great as the struggles they have had to overcome throughout the course of their lives. Some men are great because they have had almost everything handed over to them on a silver platter. Others are great because of the blood, sweat and tears they put in to achieve their greatness.

What about the underdogs; the men and women who put in the sweat but to no avail? I salute each and every man and woman who has had to overcome diversity and strains in order to attain the level of greatness they sought out to in the first place. Life is never easy and especially when you are faced with constant barricades from your peers, family and friends either knowingly or unknowingly.

Before I wrote this I had to call my good friend and ask for her consent because I knew her story was a sensitive one I have always fought the urge to tell. During my time in University, as a fresh faced teen, I met a passionate young lady who had gone through so much at such a young age. Life had tried its best to beat her down but I had never before met a more jovial and positive person in all my life. This fact still stands to date.

I met Carine when we became roommates and though my initial perception was sour, not because I hated her but because I didn’t want to share my space (#LastBornManenos), we soon became fast friends. Carine1I learnt that she was born in Congo but had to move to Uganda at a young age so that her family could get an education. Her parents struggled in Congo so the move was most welcome. She struggled to learn her English as she had grown up mostly speaking French. Her family moved to Kisumu at some point but her father went back to Congo to earn for his family, a dear sacrifice as they barely saw him again.

Carine’s mother struggled as a street vendor so that her children would not want for anything. By this point, Carine was enrolled in Daystar University where she constantly lacked cash for the most basic of needs but her faith in the Lord was strong and sure enough He always provided for her. Whether she lacked the bus fare or not, she was always teaching her Sunday school class at the Nairobi Pentecostal Church Valley Road only by His Grace. Now that is pure dedication folks!

Carine’s business acumen matured at a young age as she saw best to start purchasing and reselling trendy clothes to the Daystar Students in the hostels. Making use of every scrap of cash she could lay her hands on her business thrived, mostly attributed to her friendly nature and welcoming presence but after some time things weren’t going so well. She didn’t stop though! She woke up early each day to make kaimati (a shallow fried pastry) that she would sell in class during breaks and this kept her going.

Graduation came and went and she almost missed it but God is great and through His Grace she graduated. She struggled to find a job though and went from fresh graduate to a permanent job seeker. The harsh reality in the Kenyan job market is you almost always need a connection to get a job and here she was with no connections to reach out to. She went from unpaid internship to unpaid internship with the reality that she needed to help provide for her younger siblings fading in.

How often have you heard the story of a graduate who gave up their own aspirations to become a caregiver (we call it a maid here in Kenya), so they could put some food on the plates of their siblings? Well as a graduate in a family with ten children, there is no such thing as personal aspirations. My friend went through almost falling out of school so many times, to cleaning houses till she found herself as a Ballerina instructor in Nairobi. She was earning a living from her most farfetched idea but she was actually really great at it. She taught in many schools in Nairobi and even taught her sister empowering her with the skill to make a living too.

Carine Deborah Basimaki has gone through so many struggles in her life yet she soldiers on not accepting defeat. GiselleShe recently lost her sister Giselle to kidney failure and through the establishment of the GISELLE FOUNDATION by her family members, her sister’s spirit lives on benefiting those deserving in the community with better education, primary health and economic empowerment. Carine’s is a story with a happy ending as she is now in the Netherlands pursuing a career in the English media. She is also happily engaged to the love of her life, which is a welcome blessing as she had hurt her heart plenty of times before.

So when you think you’ve had it rough, chin up there’s even more that could happen and others who are still maintaining 🙂

The word struggle(7) is used in this text six times, kindly do not judge guys. I really wanted you to understand the struggle(8). Click on the Giselle Foundation to learn about them and kindly offer support, every bit helps.