On Saturday July 19, 2014, I was honoured at the Transform Kenya Awards ceremony as the winner in the Media Access Information category. This inaugural event is the brainchild of the Standard Media Group and aims to recognise and showcase people and institutions committed to improving the lives of other Kenyans by looking beyond profit and recognising outcomes that have powerful social impact. It also aims at rewarding the demonstration of values that drive transformation in society and celebrate those values.
That out of thousands of entries received in the 11 categories – agriculture, tourism, health, media, sports, education, green, arts and culture, manufacturing, rookie of the year, and lifetime achievement, I was one of the four all-well deserving finalists in the media category and eventual winner, is to say the least, humbling.
I have not done this alone but with you, our loyal readers and my devoted staff. This recognition comes exactly 28 years since this magazine was launched in July 1986 and it is, therefore, a great celebration. For 28 years I have watched this magazine grow beyond my wildest dreams. I have, month after month, edited real stories of real Kenyans sharing their experiences of not just parenthood and relationships that surround this noble God-given role, but also personal initiatives they are undertaking in their communities and workplaces to transform this country.
Many people ask me what is behind the phenomenal success of Parents. I don’t struggle with the answer. This magazine recognises and honours Kenyans by listening to their stories without judging and, most importantly, not imposing foreign standards on them. Parents makes Kenyans feel their story is worth telling and that their experience has lessons for others. Parents documents the lives of Kenyans, many living simple lives, others going through struggles in their relationships, while others are trying to overcome the many challenges of life, and yet others are involved in community work to make others’ lives better. The magazine is about sharing experiences that bring hope to those in similar circumstances and also make them know they are not alone. Parents also shares information that many Kenyans may not have access to, for instance, in the area of health and diseases.
Many people also ask me when I will retire and I say to them, I cannot retire from life. Parents is part of my life. It is my passion. I do not do it for money (I could have made so much more in many other endeavours in those 28 years), but for the love of helping to strengthen the family institution and enabling both the young and old find their place in the intricate relationships that arise from being members of the family of humankind.
I just love what I do. I wake up every morning looking forward to learning something new from those inspiring stories featured in this magazine. I am, without a doubt, a better person from what I have learnt by keenly reading what ordinary Kenyans experience in their lives, as narrated in the magazine.
I smile when editing stories that derive values from everyday situations, for instance, learning from my daughter, born just before the launch of this magazine, the value of humility. I cry and then smile when I read accounts of tragedies people go through yet don’t give up on life: your husband dies of injuries from a horrific car crash, leaving you pregnant with your first child and through God’s grace you heal and move on; or your husband tries to kill you and your children, you survive and he dies and you wake up from your deep grief and many “whys” and decide to spend the rest your life helping other widows.
It warms my heart when I read inspiring stories of couples in successful marriages, or young people beating all odds to do remarkable things with their lives. This is Parents at its best – it is a reflection of ‘real life’ in our country. The stories I edit every day ground me as they remind me where I have come from. They remind me to empathise with others’ in our society and do my best to touch another life.
Yes, today I can afford to holiday in different parts of the world or send my children to the best schools, but Parents always takes me back to my humble beginnings. It brings back beautiful memories of my late mother who sacrificed everything she had for her children, a sacrifice many parents still go through today, as told in their stories in Parents. It reminds me that no matter your situation, you can still make it in life through hard work, resilience and trust in God. That is the simple message of hope we bring in each issue of Parents and it’s a great honour to be at its helm.
The great values we hold in this magazine make my work a great joy. I carry my work with me wherever I go. You will find me on my computer in the plane working and enjoying it. The first thing I do when I get to any hotel room or airport business lounge is to connect to Wi-Fi so I can continue doing what I love most. If I didn’t love what I do, I wouldn’t be doing it. But I know, deep in my heart, our success and my inspiration comes from our readers – those thousands of Kenyans who buy a copy each month. It is because of you that we are being celebrated. If you didn’t come to us to tell us your story, we would have no story to tell. Thank you all. This award is dedicated to you and my staff. God bless you.
Published in August 2014