What is the cost of a dream? For the longest time, I believed all I needed to do was work hard and smart and to be consistent. Everything else would fall in place. So I worked extremely hard and smart, I planned my future and put in the work required to realize my dreams. Of course it was not easy but I did achieve whatever I set out to achieve; and that was worth all the sacrifice.
But does hard work and consistency pay all the time? Maybe, or maybe not. What happens when the cost of your dream is real hard cash and, an amount you could never dream of raising even if you were to consolidate all your savings and seek financial aid from family and friends? Do you just throw in the towel and let it all go? All those years of hard work, sleepless nights and crazy work ethic? All that passion and fire burning in you, do you just let it all dim out? Even I do not know the answer to that; however, I can tell you of the pain of trying, the pain of failing and the pain of struggling to be hopeful even in completely hopeless situations. I can tell you how hard it is to hold on and I can tell you the beauty of faith.
I discovered my passion for human rights back when I was in high school. My attention was particularly drawn to issues connected with child labour and inaccessibility of education in the rural areas, and particularly in Kenya’s South Nyanza. To help the situation, I started a children’s rights club in my school aimed at raising awareness and raising funds to alleviate the situation. It did not quite pick up as I had hoped it would but I did learn a lot from the experience.
I finished my undergraduate studies in 2016 and immediately applied for a Master’s degree at Loyola University in Chicago. I was elated when I was accepted into the university to study International Law with a focus on child and family law. I had been awarded a 50% tuition waiver so I only had to raise the remaining 50% and meet the living costs. The problem was that the total amount of money that I had to raise was approximately 40,000 USD. I knew, as soon as I got the news of my admission that I would not be able to raise that kind of money but I am not one to give up easily. I tried everything; fundraisers, pulling together all my family savings, everything that I could think of at the time. Still I could not raise even one tenth of the requisite amount
I resorted to applying to other Universities that offered full scholarships, and boy did I try! I got rejected in all ten universities that I applied to. Still I made more applications, sometimes only for scholarships; I did not win any. It was not until early this year that I accepted that I will not be able to raise the required amount. I was forced to give up the dream of ever studying at Loyola University. I was, however, not deterred from applying to other universities.
Come April 2019, I got an email from Northeastern university- some sort of advertisement. The university was still accepting admissions and they were giving out scholarships; in fact, they had a few full scholarships to give. I sent my application prayed about it and waited. Thankfully, it was not a long wait. A week after making my application I got the letter. I had been accepted into their LL.M program and I would finally get to concentrate on International Human Rights Law. Pure bliss! My joy was however short lived. I had been given a scholarship worth 20000 USD meaning I had to raise approximately 54000 USD. My studies are to begin in August 2019 and to apply for a student visa, I need to show proof of finances. Basically, I have less than three months to raise approximately 5.6 million Kenyan shillings! Further, I am supposed to pay a tuition deposit of 500 USD if I intend to accept this offer. So now I am back to the position I was in with Loyola University.
Let me tell you one thing, the pain of wanting something so badly and never being in the position to achieve it is debilitating. It messes up your faith and you find yourself questioning why you believe certain things. You ask yourself if it is even worth it working so hard towards realizing your dreams. It creates a wound in your heart and you have to live with it. You have to struggle to heal, to stay positive and to move forward because life doesn’t stop; it never gives you time to mourn, time to heal before getting back on your feet. I tell people this and they think that I worry too much. I, on the other hand, think that I am too passionate; except, I do not know how to be any less passionate. When I want something, I put all my energy in it, I give it my all, I spend many sleepless nights planning, strategizing and working towards achieving it and so when I fail to achieve it, the pain is multiplied.
I have always believed that if the plan doesn’t work you change only the plan and not the goal. I have run out of plans and strategies but I am still hopeful. Hope is a strong weapon. In bleak situations, hope keeps you alive and moving, it gives you strength for forge on. I hope to get funding soon. I believe that somehow a miracle will happen soon. I believe.