My name is Kaira. Kaira means “luck” in the language of the Maasai, my tribe. It is a good name for me, as I was born 2 months premature, tiny and frail, yet against the odds, I lived to see the land of my ancestors while my mother tended the cattle. She worked day and night for my survival. To keep me warm, she placed me in a padded cooking pot near the fire.
After completing primary school, my greatest wish was to continue my education, but my father forbade it.

I had no choice but to run away without saying goodbye to anyone. One night I set out. I had no water, no food and no money.
For four torturous days I walked through the savannah. At night, I slept in trees for fear of hyenas, until finally I reached Arusha, 150 km away.
I had never been so far away. I knew nothing but our little village in the remote expanses of Engaruka. How was I supposed to find my way in this noisy, dirty, immense city?
Street children invited me to sleep with them on a roof, and I thrived on discarded banana skins until I finally found the right authority and was able to secure a place at a secondary boarding school. I didn’t have money for books or clothes.
During the school holidays, the boarding school was closed, but I had nowhere to go. It took a lot of persuasion for the teachers to let me sleep in the classroom in exchange for my work.
When I grew older I worked as a porter on Kilimanjaro during the holidays. Even though I was just skin and bone, I carried 40 kg rucksacks to finance my studies, books, clothes and food. The effort was worth it, I am now a certified mountain guide and organize safaris.
For seven years I had stayed away from home with no news of my family.

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