Many Kenyans who quit their jobs in their home countries for opportunities abroad always have high hopes of finding better and higher-quality employment compared to the occupations they left behind.
However, that wasn’t the case for Grace Wairimu Weirich, who had worked in Kenya for more than 25 years as a lecturer at Mount Kenya University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), and Kenyatta Universities, teaching health records and information management.
Despite her extensive experience, the financial stability of a lecturer’s life in Kenya proved uncertain, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Project and part-time teaching opportunities, crucial for financial stability, became scarce.
“I had just secured a permanent teaching position in 2018 after teaching since 2006 when I completed my Master’s degree in Information Systems,” Grace recounts. “But being a lecturer, reliant on projects and part-time teaching, was not financially fulfilling.”
Returning to Kenya, Grace faced the decision of whether to continue in the familiar but financially challenging academic path or explore new horizons.
By December 2020, she found herself back in the US, envisioning a one or two-year stay to assess her next steps.
Fortune smiled upon her when she encountered a remarkable man, and their connection blossomed into love.
“I crossed part with a remarkable man whose presence in my life became one of the primary reasons I chose not to return to Kenya,” she said.
However, with her background in academia, Grace had to navigate a different career landscape in the US.
Despite lacking the formal qualifications for a teaching role, she discovered a niche in caregiving—a field where hundreds of Kenyans were already making a difference in assisting the sick and elderly.
Undeterred by the shift, Grace embarked on a 75-hour caregiving course, learning the essentials of tending to the needs of the sick and elderly.
“You are taught how to feed, dress, change diapers and assist and elderly person. However, as you wait for your work permit which may take even six months, you can be cleaning people’s homes, cleaning their washrooms, cooking for them, changing their diapers…” She said.
Starting as a volunteer, she undertook diverse tasks from cleaning homes to providing personal care, humbling experiences that laid the foundation for her journey in caregiving.
“I realised that regardless of one’s level of education, or wealth, there comes a time when you will need to be taken care of, and assisted in doing daily tasks, ” she said.
To enhance her skills and opportunities, Grace pursued a Certified Nursing Assistant Course.
This commitment to personal and professional growth bore fruit, and she secured higher-paying positions in hospitals and nursing homes.
While the tasks remained similar—feeding, changing diapers, and offering emotional support—the structured environment and better pay brought a sense of stability and fulfillment.
“The remuneration is generous. You are paid from $15 (Ksh 2,284) per hour onwards,” Grace notes, emphasizing the financial security she found in her newfound career compared to her life as a lecturer in Kenya.
In the fortuitous year of 2022, fortune smiled upon Grace as she successfully secured a scholarship, opening the doors to the pursuit of her own vision.
She founded Zuri Staffing Agency, an initiative that acts as a crucial bridge connecting individuals seeking caregiving services with appropriate facilities and homes.
Her entrepreneurial journey did not stop there; it expanded across borders to Kenya. In 2023, Grace embarked on a new venture by establishing “Moss International Educational Services.”
This agency stands as a beacon for young Kenyans, offering them invaluable access to opportunities for studying abroad.
Grace’s commitment to fostering educational avenues for Kenyan youth is evident in her strategic partnership with Anderson College in Canada.
Through this collaboration, she actively contributes to facilitating educational opportunities, opening doors for ambitious Kenyan youths to embark on transformative journeys of learning and growth.