From a controversial poem to summers spent in his grandmother’s village, Morris Mchawia Mwavizo had a lot to share. Below is a portion of his inspiring story that he sent me. I decided to upload it, pretty much unedited:
There is always a way out.
When I was growing up, I loved capturing ants and trapping them in mud cell walls that were either too high for the ant to climb over, or so wet that it would probably drown. And every time I would do that, I would be amazed at the determination that the ant would have to get out of whichever place it was in. The ant would struggle to get out, hour after hour, going from corner to corner, even though there might have been no way out.
It is this determination of finding a way out on which my life’s principles are founded. I believe there is always a way out of any situation you find yourself in. I have believed in this from my early childhood days and that belief has raised me into who I am.
When I was in school, I wanted to become a writer—to work in a media house and study writing and journalism. But life took on a bitter twist after my parents broke up and I found that although I passed form four with flying colors, college was not an option for me.
I took on several jobs, and was at times so broke that buying paper for writing was not an option. But through it all, I found a way to keep writing. I wrote on the insides of the paper that wrapped maize flour. Wrote on papers I picked up on the streets. I worked as a hawker during the day and wrote poetry and short stories in the evenings, hundreds of which I lost.
I trained and worked as a carpenter and still dreamt of writing one day. To keep my dream alive, I wrote about wood and carpentry. In whichever circumstances I found myself, I never lost hope because I believed there was a way out.
I found myself working in a construction firm and while there, I started an online course for writing. My fellow employees thought I was a joke. I tore up used cement bags and wrote on the insides of them.
It took me more than a decade of dreaming and three years of study to get certified as a writer. And at 34, I have written for international papers, had my work published in magazines, and have worked for three media houses, all because I believed there was a way out.
Writing has changed my life. I found a way out and it provided a way out of poverty for me. I believe it matters not where you are and what you are going through. There is always a way out. All you have to do is keep looking for it.