Lawrence Mutua: Boy who sold scrap metals at Mukuru slums to join University in Canada

Lawrence Mutua’s remarkable journey from Nairobi’s Mukuru Kwa Reuben Slum to St. Andrew’s School, Turi, and soon to a university in Canada serves as a powerful testament to the potential for greatness irrespective of one’s background.

Mutua’s recollection of his childhood paints a vivid picture of the hardships he faced growing up in impoverished conditions. As the ninth child in a family of ten, he and his siblings had to resort to odd jobs at a young age in order to supplement their parents’ meager income, as they were often absent due to work commitments.

“Independence” became a core value for Mutua and his siblings from an early age. The luxury of having three meals a day was a rarity, and they often had to make do with just one or, at best, two meals. Mutua himself embarked on his first job at the tender age of five, alongside his friends. They would wake up at 5 am to scavenge for scrap metals, which they would then sell in the local market for a profit. In times when scrap metal was scarce, they would rely on alternative income sources, such as collecting animal bones to sell to recycling companies or selling maize cobs to local cafes as fuel.

During this time, Mutua attended Reuben Primary School, where he was fortunate enough to study without financial burden, thanks to the school’s support for financially disadvantaged students.

Despite the challenges he faced, Mutua remained determined to steer clear of the path of crime and drugs that ensnared many of his peers.

His life took a dramatic turn when he was around eight years old. His brother abruptly removed him from Reuben Primary School to inform him of an opportunity—an interview at St. Andrew’s School, Turi. Through the assistance of an individual named Alex, whom his family had encountered a few years earlier, and who had heard about the Beacon Scholarship, Mutua was awarded a significant bursary by Turi, leading to a transformative shift in his life.

The Beacon Scholarship, a leadership program that has enabled numerous students to attend some of the finest international schools in East Africa, played a pivotal role in Mutua’s remarkable journey. He acknowledges the profound impact this scholarship had on his life, stating, “From that point on, my life changed immeasurably.”

Life at his new school was both a dream come true and a challenge, as he grappled with the disparities in financial circumstances between himself and his peers. Mutua vividly recalls the sense of quiet envy he felt when his classmates shared stories of their trips to South Africa or Dubai, realizing the stark differences that separated them.

Despite enduring tremendous hardships at such a tender age, Mutua believes that these trials served as motivation for his ultimate success. In September, he is poised to continue his educational journey at a university in Canada, embarking on a new chapter in his pursuit of excellence. Mutua’s inspiring story stands as a testament to the power of resilience and determination in overcoming adversity and achieving greatness, regardless of one’s humble beginnings.