Amina Jarso: Kenya’s First Pastoralist Commercial Pilot
Speaking to her on the phone, Amina sounds the most ordinary human from one of the remotest part in Kenya, a place that has witnessed more than half a century of economic marginalization and political exclusion. Camera shy, Amina declines to be photographed when we meet at last. ” I am camera averse” she says. I ask how she accomplished all these and still yearning for more, she simply says “all praise be to Allah, my parents’s determination to see me succeed and my craving for learning has led me to where I am today”. A day later she was flying to Serbia to not only begin her Air traffic and transport engineering masters degree at the prestigious University of Belgrade but learn her 9th language. ” My dad asks me to stop learning any more new language because your brain is ”full now” but I want to learn just one more to complete the 10th language, Russian” she says with determination. Amina is fluent in 9 languages and when President Uhuru went to China for the China-Africa cooperation conference in August they picked her as their Mandarin interpreter. She says she enjoyed and was overjoyed to grace the occasion and act as interpreter for her country’s delegation.
Amina speaks Chinese(Mandarin), Kiswahili, Borana, English, Serbian, Arabic, French, Germany, Turkish and enrolling in a Russian language class this summer. With a degree in aeronautical engineering and an ambition to influence the aviation industry, Amina is breaking the ceilings too high for too many women let alone the pastoral communities girls. She seeks to be an inspiration to girls in pastoral communities all across Africa to believe in the possibility of their dreams. Already a role model in her prime, her goals include making a meaningful contribution that will have her power something much greater than the pinnacle of her achievement.
Amina is the daughter of Mr Jarso Guyo Mukko the CEO of Pastoralist Parliamentary Group. Mr Jarso, a humble, hardworking and the nearest I have come across as a Cushitic feminist, has 9 girls and 3 boys excluding the many others he either adopted or brought up. He educated all his girls and when we met at a fundraising dinner presided over by the Isiolo Women Rep Rehema Jaldesa in aid of Amina’s master’s degree in Air traffic and transport Engineering at the University of Belgrade, he humbly introduced me to his family. An impromptu organized fundraising to aid her commercial Pilot degree at the University raised 5 million shillings short of the 10 million that will see her through the course. Always the optimist, Amina says the rest will somehow come and she will complete her education.
Relatively too young to speak of an early life Amina has already accomplished a lot. She attended a village nursery school in Isiolo before enrolling at the Little Angels Primary School for her primary education where she emerged the top girl in the 2005 Kenya Certificate Primary Education (KCPE) in the county of Isiolo. She got admission to the prestigious Alliance Girls High School for her secondary education. At Alliance Girls, Amina was the Class president for all the 4 years and founded an imminent school magazine. She was an active member of the French club and treasurer of the Muslim Student Association. She graduated from Alliance with an A- in her KCSE in 2009 but before proceeding to university, Amina decided to provide community service that included, at her own volition and without pay, conducting civic education to the communities of Isiolo and Marsabit Counties during the constitutional reform process under the umbrella of the National Muslim Leaders Forum-NAMLEF. She also served as the Secretary to Isiolo women for Peace Forum. Lack struck when Amina was asked to choose between two scholarships. One by Zawadi Africa to MIT-School of Engineering in the US and another by the Chinese Government to study at Beihang University. She went for the Beihang University option where she studied Chinese language course for her first year where she emerged the top student. She has developed excellent understanding of the Chinese (Mandarin) native language and culture. While at Beijing, Amina was selected as Junior Africa researcher for an International think-tank following rigorous interview processes. She successfully graduated from her Chinese taught Aeronautical Engineering (design option) in July 2016 as one of the best foreign students receiving recommendations from the Dean of International School of Beihang University. Amina was identified as a proactive leader by Change Makers-https://www.changemakers.com/ a global online community that recognizes unique abilities that inspire, mentor and collaborate with others to make a difference for creating a non-profit local organization funded from savings from her pocket money as well as contributions from friends and team members she mobilized for the cause of ‘LAYSHBU ‘ when she was 17 years old. With other young leaders such as Mwalimu Ali Edin, then a university students of the sciences, they created ‘LAYSHBU’ to support bright girls from marginalized communities. LAYSHBU is a merged multi-lingual word with the meaning ”WHAT IF, WHY NOT, LETS GO”. Its vision is to make local learning institutions key drivers of intellectual development, growth and social change for Northern Kenya. Working with Layshbu in Isiolo County, Amina provided free tuition and guidance lessons for girls at several local secondary schools during holidays and taught English at her former primary school. She inspired, equipped and empowered students who have since developed and sharpened their talent to become self-driven independent individuals with well-defined ambitions and vibrant aspirations to excel in their professions. Among beneficiaries of her free holiday home-based coaching and guidance include her two younger sisters who are currently pursuing a professional career one as Attorney and another as a surgeon at the University of Nairobi.
She published her first book -‘The Road Back Home’ before her 20th birthday while at the University of Beihang. She was on numerous occasions selected to represent Africa Youth and Junior African Researchers. She participated in a series of international conferences. She was interviewed and invited to speak on the CCTV talk show- ‘The Dialogue’. She was recognized and selected by the Kenyan Embassy in Beijing to assist in facilitation of multi-lingual communication between the Chinese Government and Kenyan delegates that visited china led by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2015 during the Kenya-China Investment and Business Forum. She worked for a Chinese company, Avic International Holding Corporation, for a short stint and created an online 24/7 ONE STOP SHOPPING MALL for all Eastleigh Malls (www.eastly.co.ke) where customers would buy and get their goods delivered from Eastleigh Malls to their front doors in Kenya saving time for consumers and spare them from the every day gridlock traffic.
Flying back from Hong Kong to Nairobi with her career role model Captain Irene Mutungi, in brand new Boeing- B767300-KQ Amina quotes her favourite quote that symbolizes her passion for the career ”with eyes that saw what is, a mind that dreamed of what could be and an ambition to merge the two was how she interacted with her childhood realities in the dusty town of Isiolo, a mindset that made her a self-motivated individual whose aim includes achieving high level excellence that made her ascend to be part of the world class personalities from her humble upbringing. By the Grace of Thy Lord she concludes.
Amina is passionate about life as a commercial pilot that she cannot wait to finish her masters classes. The 5 million that stands between her and the license is as huge as Mount Everest but she says as is her norm ”all these is by the grace of my Lord that I managed to come this far”