Naivasha Mwanji's story

Naivasha Mwanji lived in several African countries as a young child, but the UK is her home now.

Naivasha MwanjiNaivasha was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to Togo with her parents at four months old. A year later, her family relocated to Nairobi, Kenya. Her late father had visited Kenya previously when her mother was pregnant. Struck by the beauty of Lake Naivasha, he chose to name his daughter after it.

Naivasha spent her early years in Nairobi and started primary school there. However, it wasn’t long before they were on the move again. She explains, “We moved a lot as a family because my father was a human rights activist.” After time spent in Ethiopia, at the age of six, her family moved to the UK where her father took up a position as a Human Rights researcher for Amnesty International. His career certainly made an impact on Naivasha. She says, “I could recite all articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the time I was four!”

Fascinated by the levels of inequality in the world and driven by a desire to change it, Naivasha went on to study International Development at Middlesex University. In turn, that led to further exploration overseas. She explains, “Whilst studying, I found it difficult to relate to the concept of International Development without seeing it in practice and so I applied to volunteer on a project funded by Christian Aid.” She decided to take a year out and signed up to volunteer in India working in a village in Rajasthan.

“Though a cliché – it was a life-changing experience that kick-started my passion for travelling and seeing the world” reflects Naivasha. Her time in India, made a major impact - “I learnt how important it is not to view the world through Western lenses, and that a lot of the things that we think we want, we don’t actually need.”

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