If Sheryl was a name of a flower, it would be the type of flower that blossoms each morning before the sun rises to give hope of a new day, the type that flourishes regardless of the weather conditions, the type of flower that you want to pluck, hang on your coat and walk around looking at every after 30 seconds. A flower with the iconic fragrance of vanilla and strawberry combined. A flower that you’d want fixed on your wedding cake just to make your wedding memorable to all attendees. That would be Sheryl, the flower. And that takes us off to Sheryl, our interviewee. Sheryl Ayiera (ALMA). Commonly known as Ayiera.
It’s six o’clock, Sunday evening. Campus hostel. I’ve just walked out of some room. A friend calls out my name. I match towards him. Before I catch up, I run into Daisy. You guys know Daisy (the one who runs a blog called Dueztrends)? So we talk kidogo with Daisy before I proceed to meet my guy. While with the guy, I peep into the room next to us to see what’s happening. Yes. I’m that nosy. Don’t ask me what happened to people minding their own business cause I’m not people, I am Achman. And I have all the freedom to do what I want with my life. So I peep in and in there is Sheryl and two other girls. The trio seem to be in great hurry. They are stacking things into their handbags and are heavily dressed. Did I mention that it had just rained and there were light drizzles outside? Well, there you go. Before we part, I book an appointment with Sheryl (I intend to use this name 672 times in this piece).
So the first question finds her in the kitchen, preparing something for the stomach. She’s probably wearing white headgear and standing against a double gas cooker onto which sits a sufuria. She’s holding a cooking spoon in her right arm and her phone held in her left palm. My text checks in. “So what’s the biggest and most memorable thing you’ve ever done to somebody?” She reads. I’m not sure what she was making but I am certain it was not bread. Yes, it wasn’t bread because now what do you do when the Bible says that man shall not live on bread alone? Meanwhile so as one eye checks the progress of food inside that sufuria, the other eye is reading through my text. Girls can multitask like that without messing up. My cousin (James) tried cooking while texting and within no time, he found himself stirring his own Nokia in a boiling beef stew. So Sheryl giggles and starts me off.
“Well, aah! I have a couple of instances but when I read this question, there’s this particular instance that popped up in my mind. To me it wasn’t such a hell of a bid deal but the way the guy reacted meant a huge thing to him. Ok, about two years ago I was studying German at Goethe Institute in Nairobi. Then one day I was walking home and was so broke and hadn’t even taken lunch. Only left with transport to take me home. While at Jeevanjee gardens there’s this guy in front of me walking and is on phone, then he unknowingly drops a thousand bob and keeps walking. Remember I’m so broke! So I pick the money and though my mind is torn into two, I follow him and the moment he is done with his call, I stop him and give him the money. Wasn’t really a big deal to me but the way the guy reacted, that money meant a lot to him.”
“Did you get to ask him what that 1,000 bob lose could have meant to him?”
“Yeah, we talked a bit and he said he wasn’t sure where he’d have started from if he lost that a thousand bob.”
“See, you saved a soul there, alafu how far are you with the Stretch a Hand Initiative?” Stretch a hand initiative is a project that aims at helping young girls that, due to one reason or another, do not afford sanitary towels and hence find it hard surviving.
“Well, it’s still an initiative but soon it will be an organization. We are still collecting sanitary towels, creating connections and looking for more sponsors because honestly, we need as much help as we can get.”
I suppose by now if she was cooking ugali, it was ready and she was just waiting for the slightest breather from me, so she can peacefully devour her food. But I know even if the food was ready, she wasn’t going to be comfortable enjoying her meal in the middle of such a topic of discussion. You can not enjoy your meal when somebody is still busy reminding you of teenage girls that can’t afford pads, reminding you about girls that are opting to drop out of school because of the fear of being laughed at by others, about girls whose health conditions are worsening due to poor hygiene and lack of somebody to care about them. You cannot sit down and have your meal comfortably when you think about these girls. So I went on.
“And what was the inspiration towards having such an initiative?” I ask.
“I was inspired by what happened in Busia County last September. It was in the news that young school girls had opted to engage in sexual activities with older men in exchange for sanitary towels. That really moved me and saw me JumpStart the Stretch a Hand campaign. It’s simply a campaign where we seek sanitary towels to deliver them to these girls. And thanks to my team, so far so good.”
“Yesterday, I met you in a hurry, where were you headed, to meet a sponsor?” I enquire.
“Naaahh. I was headed to a headed with my team.”
“Ooh, boyfriend?” I wink. I know I was being creepy but come on, what’s the purpose of interviewing a whole Miss Multimedia University without seeking to know if she’s seeing anybody or not? Then she said “Of course.”
“Well, has he played a role in your plans?”
“Yes, he has been very supportive in everything – my modelling, design, school, and even in my charity works. Both financially and emotionally.”
At this time, I’m sure her food was getting colder but I didn’t care, she, on the other end didn’t also look like she cared. So we went on.
“So Sheryl, lastly. What have you learnt from all these?”
“If you want to organize something successfully, you need a good team. And my team has been up to task. Secondly, you see all of us are students, so you need good planning to balance between your school work, planning these events, managing your funds well and personal issues. I remember in the first event we used our own money to cater for everything.”
“Anything else you’d want to say? Are there any forces driving you to do what you do?”
“Hahaha not at all. I’m passionate about fashion, modelling, designing and if possible stretching an arm to reach the unfortunate in the society.”
Photo above is Ayiera giving out sanitary pads to pupils.