“Being a Compassion beneficiary prepared me for the armed forces,” declares Miriam. “The discipline and the deep trust in God—things that were instilled in me from a very young age—have become very essential in the discharging of my duties. In a country where the police force is marred in corruption, I want to be a morally upright and just officer of the law, to protect and serve all citizens without compromise.”
Miriam sits clad in her well-pressed military fatigues, beret and meticulously polished boots to finish off the look. Miriam is an administration police officer, a paramilitary security unit belonging to the Government of Kenya. She is based in Kwale County, 40 kilometers south west of Mombasa.
She exudes an air of confidence, pride and accomplishment. A testament to the fact that women remain grossly under-represented in Kenya’s Police Service making up only an estimated 10 percent of the force. Although Miriam is an inspiration to many girls in her former project and the country, only a few years ago, her reality was a stark contrast to the success that she is today. Ruth Wanjiku, Miriam’s mother, recalls how difficult life was in those days raising her six children after the untimely demise of her husband. She struggled to feed, clothe and educate her children.
Her meagre income of about Kes. 5,000 ($50 US) a month that she made from her business as a mchicha (vegetable) vendor could hardly meet their needs.
“Those were difficult times. Although I toiled hard to provide the children with food I could only provide one meal a day and many nights they went to bed hungry. Clothing was a big challenge as well, I remember Miriam only had two sets of clothes, one that they would wear during the week and another one for church on Sunday and this was the case for the rest of the kids,” says Ruth.
Hence, when an opportunity to have Miriam registered at a local church presented itself, Ruth did not hesitate.
“Miriam was in grade 1 when I received word that the Compassion center was recruiting children for the program. The struggle to make ends meet and to pay school fees for all the children seemed unending. Miriam’s older siblings regularly missed classes due to my delay in paying the fees. The struggle and desperation led me to the center, and I am glad that I did because Miriam was registered at KE0506 Victoria Baptist Church,” Ruth nostalgically narrates.
This marked a turning point in Miriam’s life.
“Immediately after Miriam was registered, I received a call from the project director. When I arrived, she explained to me that Miriam had gotten a sponsor and that on top of that, Miriam had also received a birthday gift. In all my hard work and toiling, I had never seen such an amount of money in my life. I was so grateful to God. With the funds, we were able to purchase food, clothing and bedding,” says Ruth.
With time, the living conditions for Miriam and her family began to change for the better.
The gifts kept on coming and the project continued to assist Miriam and her family.
In 2013, Miriam had the opportunity to meet her sponsor.
“Meeting my sponsor in person was life changing for me. It was such a memorable experience and I was so happy to spend time with them. They considered me as their daughter and that made me feel very special and the love and affection that they showed me really shaped me into the person that I am now,” says Miriam.
Miriam completed her high school education with good grades. Her entire high school fees were paid for in full through a generous gift from her sponsor.
After completing her A levels in 2017, Miriam attended college for a few months studying a short-term course in hospitality before an opportunity to be recruited into the police service presented itself in May. Miriam passed all the preliminary requirements like minimum grade, height, weight and general health.
“The final part of the recruitment exercise was to run a 10 kilometer marathon. Luckily for me, in the months leading to the recruitment, I had been routinely running a few kilometers every week. I managed to finish second out of all the girls that tried out. Subsequently, I was selected to go for a nine-month training at the police college,” says Miriam.
But when Miriam and Ruth received the acceptance letter and saw the list of items they were required to report to the training with, they were taken aback.
“The list was so long; my mother couldn’t afford to buy all those things in the short amount of time. I honestly believed that this chance was gone,” recalls Miriam.
But once again, the Compassion center came to their rescue and provided all the basic items that she would require while in training.
“I cannot forget the generosity from the project. The project director, Edah, who has been so instrumental in Miriam’s life even reached into her own pocket to contribute. I was able to purchase the uniforms, bedding and utilities she required for the training. There is no way I would not have been able to bear that cost myself,” says Ruth.
The nine months that followed were the hardest Miriam has ever faced and every day she was on the verge of giving up.
“The training camp was like a prison. We were constantly on the move and on schedule. The day began at 4:00 a.m. with a long run followed by physical exercise and ended at 10:00 p.m. Many recruits could not complete the rigorous training. But I always drew strength from the deep trust in God and the encouraging words I received from Edah telling me that I can do anything I put my mind to. I could not let her down by giving up.
The months swiftly went by and before long Miriam had successfully completed the grueling training. She was among 3,000 police recruits who graduated during the police parade in Nairobi.
Miriam had not only graduated but had also excelled in her training. As a result, she got the rare opportunity of receiving an award from the president of the Republic of Kenya.
Miriam was thrilled by the fact that she was among the few female cadets who managed to graduate.
But that is only the beginning according to Miriam; she is eager to serve her country in the administration police service at the highest possible level she can attain. “I want to be an example that girls (from similar or different circumstances to mine) can emulate. I want them to believe that they can be whatever they put their mind to. With this opportunity I have, I want to rise in rank and become a decisionmaker in the police force,” says Miriam.
Miriam and her husband are both administration police officers based in Kwale along with their five-month-old baby Jack who brings immense joy to the young family.
Miriam’s life is a testimony of how Compassion helps children to realize their dreams. “When I look back at her life, I am grateful to God for He has been faithful to us,” says Ruth.