The Beginning of a Dream, Lencer’s Story

A young woman’s journey navigating Kibera as a mother and a mentor working toward her dream career

Lencer Akinyi Onyancha, a devoted daughter and mother, understands the reality of unemployment all too well. Though Lencer is one of the 60% of Kenyan youth that is considered underemployed she didn’t let that stop her from working toward achieving her dream of becoming a Computer Technician. Learn how Lencer overcomes the challenges of being a single mother, supporting her family that is over 8 hours away, and learning to create a new home away from home through Carolina for Kibera.

Lencer, a CFK Beneficiary

Lencer Akinyi Onyancha – Aspiring computer technician and top of her ICT class is known to her colleagues as a devoted mother, daughter, sister, and mentor who continues to give back to her family and community.

It is no secret that the youth of Kenya are brimming with anticipation to create change and contribute to their communities. Unfortunately, potential and ambition are often not enough to propel young Kenyans into the workforce. In fact, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the average rate of unemployment among Kenyans ages (14-24) is at 40% while underemployment stands around 60%.

Lencer Akinyi Onyancha, a devoted daughter and mother, understands the reality of unemployment all too well. After finishing high school Lencer ventured out with her daughter to Nairobi, 8 hours from her hometown, in hopes to make a life for herself while continuing to support her daughter and 6 siblings back in the County of Migori.

However, employment didn’t come quickly or easily. As Lencer thinks back to her early days in Nairobi she remembers the “stress and pressure of being in a big city and expectation of supporting family back at home,” but she didn’t let that stop her creating connections within her community. A local campaign led her to Carolina for Kibera’s Girls Empowerment Program (GEP), which she felt “identified with [her] challenges” and gave her a sense of belonging. Lencer began giving back to CFK almost immediately by serving as a mentor for the GEP, sharing her experiences of being a teenage mother in high school, and providing girls a safe space to work through challenges they faced. Serving as a mentor didn’t only benefit Lencer’s mentees –through mentoring she learned how to overcome many of her own challenges. As she continued leading sessions she opened up about her dream of a career in computer technology.

Carolina for Kibera’s most recent ICT Graduating Class
March 2019

Lencer’s work with the GEP led her to enroll in CFK’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Program, housed within the Young Health and Wellness Program. The ICT Program is a 4 month intensive that provides a working knowledge of basic computer packages. The program is designed to increase youth employability and entrepreneurship.

Though it started as a dream, Lencer completed the ICT Program, graduated at the top of her class, and is even closer to becoming a computer technician! Looking back fondly on her experiences, Lencer has “enjoyed every minute of [her] time at CFK’s ICT Center”. Moving forward she is looking to pursue an advanced degree specializing in ICT.
At CFK we are grateful for Lencer for giving back to her CFK community and thrilled that we were able to help her begin to pursue her dreams. We are looking forward to seeing what she will do next.

Stories of Progress

Research, Connections, and Community
Born, raised, and educated in Kibera, Melvin Ochieng connected with CFK during its early years. Now, 15 years later, he works as a Research Scientist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), one of CFK’s largest research partners. 
Students with CFK masks return to school in Kibera
Reflecting on School Reopening in Kenya
After a 10-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, schools in Kenya re-opened for all students on January 4, 2021. CFK is working with teachers and students to ensure they have the tools and knowledge needed to return to school safely.
Championing Child Development through Nutrition and Play
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Frankline Mwenda and his nutrition team have successfully cured and discharged 45 previously malnourished children during the pandemic. Now, they're continuing to respond to increased needs and expanding their impact in Kibera.