I'm no longer a housegirl
Posted Wednesday, April 18 2012 at 00:00
The first thing Purity Karimi says when we walk into her office is, “I’m glad you kept time.”
We are a few minutes early for our 10am appointment. In her kind of business, tardiness is unacceptable. Purity is a trainer and motivational speaker working for a global company in Nairobi.
“Essentially, a motivational speaker is a role model. You have to walk the talk if you intend to inspire trust in the people who have paid to listen to you,” she informs us.
She comes across as intelligent, not to mention the aura of authority that surrounds her. It is, therefore, difficult to picture her as a housegirl, yet she was one for three years.
Her life’s story is fascinating, and proof that with the right attitude, a hard work ethic, and a never-say-die attitude, nothing is impossible.
“I am the last born in a family of eight,” she begins. Purity grew up in a stable family. Her father was a businessman whose core business involved supplying cereals, while her mother was a subsistence farmer. They were able to pay for their children’s education and provide for their needs. After completing her secondary school education at Mukuri Secondary School in Chuka, Eastern Kenya, in 1990, Purity left for Nairobi. She was 18.
“My older brothers worked and lived in Nairobi, and my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to join them as I waited to join college, instead of staying at home, where I had lived all my life,” she explains.
Purity hoped to study medicine. However, she only managed to score C+ in the examinations.
“I was disappointed and at a loss as to what to do with my life since my heart had been set on studying medicine,” she says.
After three months, Purity began to feel as though she was becoming a burden to her siblings.
“Back home, I was used to working. You just couldn’t sit around doing nothing and expect to eat in the evening. You had to work.”
But in Nairobi, there was nothing to do. Purity decided to look for a job, any job, to keep her busy during the day.
But she soon realised how difficult it was, especially if you had no idea what you wanted to do and had no experience.
Purity was frustrated and, on the spur of the moment, decided to take up a job as a househelp in Buru Buru Estate, in Nairobi.
She knew that her parents would be angry when they found out what she was doing, so she lied to them and to her brothers that she had been offered a shop attendant’s job.
She was lucky to get an employer who treated her well. Being the last born in her family, looking after a baby and doing the washing as well as cooking was overwhelming at first. She was paid Sh2,500 a month. Not much, Purity concedes, but she felt self-reliant.
Towards the end of 1993, Purity fell in love with a man in the neighbourhood.