The narrative of Jackson Maina, a Kenyan whose viral video showcased him singing along to a gospel song in a US Navy uniform, exemplifies the adage, “Life is What You Make It.” Maina’s remarkable journey took an unexpected turn, transforming him from a former watchman in Nakuru to a member of one of the world’s most powerful militaries.
Maina, born in Nyahururu to a low-income family, faced challenges in accessing education due to financial constraints. His parents struggled to support his schooling, often relying on the kindness of others to keep him in class despite occasional setbacks over unpaid fees.
Despite initial expectations that his high school years would see him striving to improve his family’s circumstances, Maina’s focus was diverted, much like many teenagers, towards distractions like phones and socializing. When he sat for his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2016, the consequences of his choices became evident as he scored a disappointing D plain. His father, deeply disappointed, had consistently urged him to prioritize his studies.
In an attempt to rectify his path, Maina left home and ventured to Samburu, realizing that achieving his dream of a well-paying job required more than ambition – it required proper documentation. He engaged in various manual jobs, including working as a bar attendant, and later found employment as a construction worker in Nakuru. Subsequently, a connection led him to a logistics company, where he worked as a turnboy for a lorry transporting goods from Nairobi to Uganda.
Maina’s turning point came in 2019 when he joined the National Youth Service (NYS) with the hope of operating construction machinery. During breaks in his training, his father encouraged him to apply for the green card diversity visa. Although initially unsuccessful, Maina persisted. Tragedy struck when his father passed away in the same year, intensifying his determination to make his father proud. He continued and successfully graduated from NYS in 2020.
Faced with joblessness due to the global pandemic, Maina returned to Samburu and enrolled in the Kazi Mtaani program while tirelessly applying for jobs, even attempting to join the National Police Service. When an opportunity to work in Qatar presented itself, financial constraints thwarted his plans. Undeterred, he took a job as a watchman in Nakuru, diligently saving money for future opportunities.
In October 2020, Maina, amidst hardships, took a second chance at the green-card lottery. Simultaneously working as a construction worker during the day and a watchman at night, he was stunned to discover his name among the DV visa winners. With the support of friends, he initiated the visa application process, securing a host in Pennsylvania by March 2022.
Upon reaching America, Maina found employment at a warehouse and fulfilled the mandatory Selective Service requirement for DV winners below the age of 25. He underwent training in Chicago and eventually joined the US Navy.
Today, Maina runs a YouTube channel where he shares his motivational story and offers guidance on navigating the green card lottery application process, aiming to inspire and assist fellow Kenyans facing similar challenges.