Martin Gathu – Life’s journey and profile

Martin Gathu is working as a training coordinator at NairoBits Trust. For him, training is not just a job, but a vocation. He has taught more than 500 youth at NairoBits who are now working in various organisations, including Microsoft, Equity Bank and Bank of Kigali. Martin describes his teaching style as rigorous but accessible. He insists that his students make the right decisions and tries to be the “older brother” to them.

Childhood imprints: Renunciation …

His high level of discipline stems from his childhood. He was the third born of five children to a father who worked as a driver and spent most of his time in Nairobi, and a mother who was a smallholder farmer in a village in Murang’a. Martin lived with his mother and siblings in the village, where he attended Mirira Primary School and Kayuyu Primary School. Growing up, his family struggled with financial difficulties. His mother was the main provider for the household.

In 2004, Martin finished primary school with flying colours. He was aware of the financial challenge that now lay ahead of him. He knew that his mother could not pay the school fees for the boarding school he qualified for, so he decided to attend a day school. The director of the day school refused to admit him and urged Martin’s mother to send him to a more demanding school. However, Martin insisted that he had to go to the day school, where he was eventually admitted.

Martin had to overcome many challenges during his school years. He made a sacrifice and put others first when faced with family difficulties. He sent his mother to Nairobi to take care of his sister.

… and responsibility

At the end of 2007, Martin took over the running of the household. He became a father figure to his younger sister and took care of her until she left to go to school in another part of the country. From then on, Martin lived alone in his village house. He was the pupil, child, mother and father in his household. With no one at home to turn to, it was difficult for Martin to concentrate at school. His teachers were worried that his performance would be affected by this situation. They urged him to ask his mother to come back from Nairobi. Martin was always the best in his class. Therefore, he received a scholarship to pay his school fees for the entire four years of high school. After Grade 4, he achieved a B grade with 60 points, which did not qualify him for a government-sponsored university course. The teachers urged him to repeat the class in order to achieve a better grade that would allow him to enter university. He declined the offer because his younger siblings were attending high school and he knew that such a decision would place a great financial burden on his family.

From student to teacher at NairoBits

Past high school, Martin finished an apprenticeship as a computer technician. After his training, he got various opportunities such as a training job at his college, teaching at a high school and working at a Mpesa shop. In October 2010, Martin was invited for an interview at NairoBits, and graduated in December 2011 with a diploma in Mass Media Design. Since then, he has worked in various institutions, including Price Check Kenya and as a trainer at NairoBits. In 2015, he participated in an exchange programme in Amsterdam for two months. He then worked at Stixx as a web developer, at Got-to-Compare as a developer and at iCompare as a project manager. In March 2019, Martin decided to work as a freelancer. In October 2020, he returned to NairoBits to work in a consultancy programme and became training coordinator in this organisation from January 2021.

Sein persönliches Motto ist “Dienst am Menschen, Dienst an Gott”.

Due to his background from humble beginnings, Martin has a unique perspective on life. The challenges he faced as a child enable him to empathise with his students, many of whom are underprivileged. He has a deep sense of responsibility that comes from his life experience, having had to sacrifice and provide for himself and his family while going to school. Martin is determined to help his students succeed despite their circumstances. His goal is for his students to be 100% successful in the job market. He envisions the students being able to negotiate for themselves in the job market and be successful in their careers. His bigger vision is to have his own agency that offers jobs to NairoBits students to ensure the sustainability of the programme.

Martin’s resilience and indefatigable spirit continue to influence his students and others. Through his work, he has been able to impact the lives of many young people. His commitment is based on his life experiences as a young adult trying to make something of himself despite difficult circumstances. He draws much inspiration from his mother, who is his role model. His commitment to his students goes beyond his role as a coach.