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Overcoming adversity: How Governor Gladys Wanga overcame life challenges

If there’s anyone young girls aspiring to become seasoned politicians should look up to, it’s Governor Gladys Wanga of Homa Bay.

Her political journey has been nothing short of remarkable, marked by resilience, determination, and an unyielding spirit.

Governor Wanga’s success story didn’t unfold effortlessly.

Hailing from a political family, she inherited the passion for public service from her father, who was actively involved in local authorities.

Her early exposure to political meetings alongside her father equipped her with invaluable insights into the art of connecting with the electorate.

However, her path took an unexpected turn when tragedy struck. Losing her father while still in high school, and subsequently losing her mother during university, could have been the end of her political aspirations.

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Yet, it only fueled her determination to overcome the challenges life threw at her.

University life for Governor Wanga was an uphill battle. With no parents to rely on, she found herself in a position where she had to take care of herself and support her siblings.

Seeking help from politicians through bursary programs and engaging in manual work became her means of survival.

“I never went home during long holidays while at the university. Instead, I would remain in school for a work-study program, which was not something fancy—slashing grass at campus,” shared Ms. Wanga.

Studying Health Management at Kenyatta University, Governor Wanga worked tirelessly, earning Sh 30 per hour for cutting grass. Despite the challenges, she remained focused on her goals.

She told Nairobi News, “Your background does not determine where you are going. Just swim further and deeper.”

Post-university, Governor Wanga contributed to different organizations, including Liverpool VCT Care and Treatment.

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In 2013, she ventured into politics, winning the woman representative seat in Homa Bay County. Her journey in Parliament, leading various committees, further honed her political skills.

In the August 2022 elections, Governor Wanga made history by becoming the second governor of Homa Bay County and the first female governor in Nyanza.

Her commitment to empowering the youth is evident through the introduction of the “Fins to Swim” scholarship program.

This initiative supports six beneficiaries from each of the 40 wards in acquiring education, covering fees from secondary to university.

Addressing students in Homa Bay, Governor Wanga urged them to aspire for greatness despite their backgrounds.

“The only task you have is to study hard and take Homa Bay to greater heights. We will support you, and we are investing in you to put the county on the world map,” she declared.