By Mohammed M. Mupenda
Miss. Bridget Mwaniki, A 17 year-old Kenyan immigrant recently energized a heavily attended event of African immigrants, Asians and Americans, telling them to cope with the United States way of life which is anchored on hard work to make use of available opportunities.
The young lady, whose story of life went viral at only the age of three due to her gift in poetry, made the remarks during “Building Momentum Networking Event” at Cortex Community Center Building in St. Louis City on Thursday.
The event aims at building momentum for a better future by providing an opportunity to meet new people, hearing from community and different immigrants share their successes, failures, and lessons learned, according to Geoffrey Soyiantet, the President and Executive Director of Vitendo4Africa that hosted the event.
“When a child gets a full ride to an American college, it deserves a feast in the entire village. When a professional gets a promotion at his workplace that requires them to move here, it is a big achievement,” said Mwaniki underpinning that it is not a surprise for “America is the land of opportunities”.
“When a country is adorned with ammunition, when the war is endless, where there seems to be no hope, America becomes the best bet. When a family is searching for greener pastures and a brighter future for their children, they pack up their bags and gather the little money they have, eager to begin a new life,” She added.
Opportunistic though U.S is, Mwaniki underscored that there are many other challenges for immigrants. She, however, said persistence will always be the key and that the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages.
“Being an immigrant means that you have to work twice as hard for you to be able to stand out and excel, because often, America is all you got. For a student like me, it means striving for all for me to be able to compete with the rest of my peers who were born and grew here,” she said.
“Most immigrant graduates do not find jobs in their careers, forcing them to either go back to college and change their career or if lucky, start their own businesses. Then there’s the language barrier,” she stressed.
Mwaniki immigrated to the US in February 2019 and is high school senior at Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights. Due to her incomparable talent in poetry and deeds, she has met several public figures including two presidents, Kagame of Rwanda and Kenyatta of Kenya.
At the age of three, Bridget kicked-off using her gift of poetry to raise awareness against child labor. She has received several awards for condemning violence that erupted after 2008 Kenya’s elections and her endeavors to fight for women rights. She reached National Level for 10 consecutive years in the Kenya Music Festivals.
Mwaniki currently volunteers at the Magic House as a museum assistant. She is also a volunteer Swahili teacher and African folk song teacher at Vitendo 4 Africa.
*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.