The Full, Rich Life of Paul Mulongo
By K.E.S.T. Traveler Deb DeArmon
Nyumbani’s Lea Toto program has many unsung heroes. This January, during my eighth trip to Kenya, I had the pleasure of meeting one of them and hearing his story: Paul Wamalwa Mulongo.
Paul has been the regional manager of Lea Toto’s four eastern centers as well as the director of the Dandora site for almost 10 years. His dedication to Nyumbani started, however, even before then. In 2000, he became an intern/volunteer counselor at the Nyumbani Children’s Home. Later, he went to the Lea Toto Kangemi program as a volunteer counselor. In 2002, Paul was moved to join the Lea Toto Nyumbani mobile program, which was coordinated then by Sister Little. Paul spent much of his time traveling around the slums of Kibera, Kariobangi and Kayole with the clinic, providing counseling and social services to the patients they treated. In 2003, Paul was officially employed by COGRI as a counselor based in the newly established Kibera center. Later, he was promoted to head the center. The establishment of Kibera led to the establishment of the Kariobangi center. By then those centers were relying on well-wishers for support apart from U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Kangemi and Kawangware centers.
Like many other Kenyans, Paul has humble beginnings. He was the fourth born of eight children in an extended family of traditional farmers in the village of Bungoma in Western Kenya. When his parents completed their education and became teachers, the family moved away so they could secure teaching jobs. When Paul completed his secondary education, there was no money for college so he started a small grocery business. Saving for college took a year-and-a-half because he also had to send money home to support his siblings, who were still in school. Paul headed to Nairobi after that time to look for opportunities and start his education. He stayed with an older sister and began part-time studies in marketing at Carlile College while also working as a casual laborer to pay for classes. After finishing his course work, Paul had difficulty finding a job.
He spent three months doing door-to-door sales until he found a job at Corva Industry as a production manager. He remained with that company three years.
The next step in Paul’s journey to self improvement and fulfilment was to start courses at Daystar University in psychology. He chose this field because he realized working for a nongovernmental organization would be the most fulfilling type of work. During his time at Daystar, he worked with an organization called NACADA [National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse] as a lecturer. This organization provided drug awareness education as well as rehabilitation centers.
The work inspired Paul to look for other places where he could be of service, which is how he came to Nyumbani. Despite the broad duties that managing Lea Toto programs encompasses, Paul’s life continues to be very full in many areas. He married in 2007 and now has two daughters ages seven and nine.
He is continuing his education and is presently the national chairperson for the Kenya Alliance for Children’s Rights. Yet despite his many accomplishments, he says he’s most proud of helping to establish the Lea Toto sites, which began with writing proposals to obtain the needed funding. He also started the psycho-social training programs for the moms and uncles at Nyumbani Home to prepare them to care for the children.
Paul says that being part of Nyumbani the last 16 years has provided him many opportunities for growth. With Sister Mary’s encouragement, he has taken many courses to improve his skills so that he can help to provide better services. Why does he do all this? Paul says it’s because it’s always important to remember in life that it’s not about you, but about helping others.
Thank you Paul for your long term dedication to Nyumbani!
*This article was originally published in Nyumbani USA’s Spring 2017 Newsletter, edited by Genilee Parente.
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