In the intricate tapestry of life, unexpected turns often lead to remarkable stories of resilience and reinvention.
Grace Wairimu Weirich’s journey is one such tale that unfolded when she ventured from Kenya to the United States four years ago.
Little did she know that this exploration would not only reshape her career but also open doors to newfound opportunities and love.
Grace had dedicated over 25 years to academia, serving as a lecturer at esteemed institutions like Mount Kenya University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), and Kenyatta Universities.
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. This newfound relationship became a pivotal factor in Grace’s decision to make the US her home.
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. 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.
The depth of compassion required in this profession became evident to Grace as she cared for individuals in various stages of life— the sick, elderly, recovering, and those in their final days. Despite the emotional toll, she found the work deeply rewarding.
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.