Wed. Feb 20th, 2019

An aeronautical engineer who shines shoes

Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe – Gail Devers
Michael Ngugi graduated from Eldoret Aviation Training Institute seven years ago with a diploma in aeronautical engineering. Despite his academic credentials, the 30-year-old was unable to secure a job in his field of study. He now works as a shoeshiner in Nairobi.

When we got home, we sat with my father and I presented my case. At the end of that meeting, we agreed to sell part of the land that was to be my inheritance and use the proceeds to cover the remaining bit of my college fee.
When I was still in college, I interned at a company in Nanyuki in 2008 and in 2009 I interned at CMC Aviation (It was later rebranded to DAC Aviation).
After completing your course, what happened?
After graduating in 2011, I sent job applications to almost all the aviation companies here in Nairobi. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years but no offer was coming through.
Some of my classmates got jobs in prestigious companies such as Kenya Air force, Kenya Airways, National Intelligence Service and so forth. Others work abroad. My friends often give me heads-up on job openings but my applications have been unsuccessful so far.
To earn money, I began hawking women’s skirts door to door. The sales weren’t consistent and sometimes I would walk around all day and not sell anything.
I married my wife in 2013 while I was working at a construction site as a casual labourer.
I faced many financial challenges as the sole breadwinner in my family.
I then decided to start to start polishing and repairing shoes so I could earn more to take care of my family.
What is a normal day at work for you like?
I wake up at 5am to open my business as most of my clients are morning people. I clean and polish shoes up to around 8am, then I begin repairing shoes until 7pm when I close my business for the day.
What are some of the challenges you have gone through?
I have not had a stable job since I graduated in 2011. Life out in the streets is very difficult; not everyone will hire you even for a simple job if they realise that you are an aircraft technician.
I am a family man with a wife and a five-year-old daughter in pre-school. I reached a point of desperation when demands from my family struck and I had no choice but to take what life had to offer. That is how I ended up as a shoeshiner two years ago. I earn Sh400 shillings on a good day. My wife has a small grocery shop that supplements my income.
My upbringing taught me perseverance and patience. As a shoeshiner the main challenges I face are not being able to work well in poor weather because I work in an open space. The income I get also limits growth. It is not consistent as people can opt to clean and polish their shoes at home before leaving for work.
What are your future plans?
I hope to get a job that will offer me security, get some licences and work in the aviation industry. I pray for a stable job. If I ever get my dream job, I would give it my all. I would use some of that money to educate my younger siblings and my daughter.