The year 2017 was an interesting one for Ndung’u Nyoro. Everyday, his Facebook timeline would be flooded with calls to carry out fundraisers for various individuals in need. Some did not even know his name but could identify with the man who ran tens of online funds campaigns. Eventually, he founded Affecto, a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to combat poverty through education.
Your Facebook page attracts such a big audience. Do you consider yourself an influencer?
I have been active online for quite a number of years, but I only got to know about that word last year. I just like meeting new people, putting effort into whatever I am doing and sharing knowledge. Social media provides an ideal platform where people can exchange valuable ideas. However, it takes time to understand your followers’ needs, wants and behaviours.
How did your upbringing mould you into the person you are today?
I was brought up in a humble rural home in Molo, Nakuru County. At a young age, I saw people suffering. I witnessed some of the worst episodes of post-election violence in 1992 and 1997. My parents used to accommodate and feed some of the internally displaced people. In secondary school, I was a dormitory captain and in that capacity, I picked up many lessons on leadership and the importance of helping those in need.
In 2017, you quit formal employment to run your organisation. What was that like?
As my Facebook page gained more followers, I started receiving so many appeals to help those in need to raise funds for settling their loved ones’ medical bills and tuition fees for bright but needy students. Because I enjoy volunteering, I freely shared these appeals on my timeline. However, with time I realised that this method of raising funds was not sustainable, so I came up with an initiative that is dedicated to helping needy students complete their education. Luckily, I got help from friends. We aim to bridge the gap that exists between the varying numbers of boys and girls who complete secondary education. In 2017, when I realised that my passion lay in charity, I resigned. I have a supplies and construction business which I oversee while running the charity organisation. Apart from education, health and community development, our organisation offers mentorship programmes that provide young people with career guidance.
In your work, what have you learnt about Kenyans?
That they are generous people, but they lack credible platforms where they can channel their contributions to. This was one of the reasons we registered Affecto Foundation in 2018. Now, anybody from any part of the world can visit our website, see the activities we engage in, and find out how they can support us. So far, we have helped more than 70 teenagers join secondary school.
I’m sure you’ve had moments when you felt like giving up?
I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that question because such moments are so many. There are days that I am so emotionally and spiritually drained that I start wondering if I’m doing something useful. Sometimes people commit to pay tuition fees for some of the students, then they don’t fulfil their promises. Also, the organisation has limited funds so when students and teachers call begging for school fees, you feel helpless.
However, seeing our beneficiaries succeed is what keeps me going. The letters they write to us at the end of every school term, and the impressive report forms they bring make me happy.
Are there days when you’ve dipped into your pocket to support the organisation’s activities?
If you have external funding for the various projects, you might not need to do this. However, this might not always be the case, especially for organisations like Affecto, which is still in its formative years.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Know your passion and pursue it. Also, never tire of volunteering your time and resources. You will not get rewarded in monetary terms, but it is fulfilling.
What animal do you identify with?
An elephant. These big mammals always look out for one another, and that is what I endeavour to do.
How would you wish people to remember you?
As someone who heeded to his calling, had a family beyond his blood relatives and one who resonated with the kindness of Kenyans.