1. Tell Me About Yourself
My official name is Mary Mogana, but I prefer to be called Mesh because it is an artistic name. I was born, raised, and schooled in Kibera until I reached college level. I come from a family of four and we live Soweto Village. I am a role model for girls in my community, passionate about women’s empowerment, and an artist who believes in tapping into the positive energy in young people both within and outside Kibera.
2. What did you do before joining SHOFCO?
I used to work in a beauty spa as a hairdresser and a beautician. I also modeled, worked with marketing companies on promotions, created art in the mediums of dance, playwriting and directing, and singing, and participated in forums related to girls’ and women’s empowerment.
3. When and why did you join SHOFCO?
I joined SHOFCO in 2014 after being crowned the first Miss SHOFCO in 2013. I quit my hairdressing job and joined SHOFCO because it gave me a direct platform to make a positive impact in my community by serving, inspiring, and being a role model through my success story.
4. What do you find most challenging about your job?
Part of my job is to give tours to visitors, and I find it challenging when visitors are late or when we have a language barrier and have difficulty communicating.
5. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Waking up every day knowing that I contribute positively towards the lives of the young people I meet daily is the most rewarding part of my job. It is amazing to see some of them go back to school after I mentor them, as well as seeing youth in the community embrace contraceptives and know that they have a future which is more than just Kibera.
6. Where do you see SHOFCO in 5 years?
I see SHOFCO impacting even more lives. As for Youth Peer Providers, I would love to see us having another center in another village. I also see youth having more community centers that have libraries and computer labs, the expansion of our adult literacy programs, additional satellite clinics, as well as an
expanded gender department. I would also like to see our economic empowerment programs expand and reach more groups, empowering more people to start income generating activities in order to
improve their standards of living. Finally, I would like to see our KSG graduates in good high schools and giving back to their community by mentoring other girls in Kibera.
7. What do you like to do in your time outside of work?
In my time outside of work, I like to mentor young girls, write plays and poems, and direct theater groups both within SHOFCO and outside groups. I read a lot of inspirational books that motivate and inspire me. I also like to play hockey and volleyball.
8. If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
If I could meet anyone in the world, it would be Nelson Mandela. He inspires me to bring change from all directions and make change work with love, care, and concern for each other. I am inspired by his leading from behind to give others opportunities to grow, being compassionate, understanding, empathetic ,and leading from the heart.
9. Why did you want to become a member of SHOFCO’s community program staff?
I wanted to become a member of SHOFCO’s community program staff to be part of the foot soldiers who do good deeds that were making a great impact and change in my community. I am grateful for this opportunity to give back my knowledge and help my community so that we can leave a great legacy behind.
10. In regards to your job and program, how do you see it growing in the next few years?
I would like to see the Mentorship program expand, as our mentors function like our girls’ second parents. They expose our girls to different areas of Nairobi outside of Kibera, and follow up on the happenings in their academic and social lives. I would also like to improve our site visit program in order to bring more potential funders to SHOFCO so that they can get a feel for our work and see our impact firsthand.