A Kenyan woman from Ngewa Ward in Githunguri Constituency, Kiambu county is the new Mayor of Barking and Dagenham, a borough located in East London, United Kingdom.
Elizabeth Kengethe, a former school teacher in Kiambu, was elected unopposed as Mayor on a Labour party ticket in February after being Councillor of Parsloe Ward since 2010. The position of Mayor is very ceremonial and her primary role will be to promote civic pride and community cohesion. She joins the current Mayor of Southwark, councillor Abdul Mohamed, who is also from Kenya.
Before she moved to the UK in 2000 due to political problems in her home area, she taught in different schools in Kenya. “I taught for 14 years before moving to UK due to political problems. I came to the UK as a refugee teacher in 2000. This was a very distressing period in my life because by then, I was totally disorientated as a refugee and had to survive by enrolling in care jobs in nursing homes,” Kang’ethe says in her website.
It was not easy for her to get a job in the UK because employers thought she was not qualified for the job as she had trained oversees. “I applied for teaching posts directly to schools in Newham. I was, however, always knocked back by comments doubting my qualifications. School Heads thought I was not competent because I had trained overseas. It was very frustrating, however, I never gave up as I believed I was a good teacher,” she says.
Later on, she landed a teaching Job in Newham and she got a long-term post in Romford where she taught for sometime. It is while at this time that she enrolled for a Overseas Trained Teacher programme with Empower Teachers Ltd. “I found the course to be both flexible and sensitive to my needs as an OTT (Oversees Trained Teacher). Every effort was made to accommodate my needs, I received one-on-one training whenever need arose.
The former teacher who visits the country regularly says that she want to represent Kenya in a good way and asked for prayers back in Kenya to help her manage in a foreign land. “I want to be good ambassador for my country Kenya but I know its will not be easy this being a foreign land but with prayers from my people back in Kenya I know I will make it,” she concludes.