Almost five years ago, Mary Wanjiku Gichuhi fled Kenya for safety in the Netherlands. She fled to save her life and that of her unborn child after being stuck in a dysfunctional, toxic and abusive relationship for years. She only managed to leave with her passport and a spare cloth in a small bag. She was pregnant at the time. She fled to a country where she did not know anyone and whose language she did not speak. She became a refugee and embarked on a journey to reinvent herself. Since then, she has written 25 books, won several international awards and is an esteemed speaker. She is also a mother to her son Jonathan.
Dr. Gichuhi has remained laser-focused on creating a legacy for her son and helping countless others. I’ve had the privilege of speaking with her on a few occasions, and I’ve been amazed by her drive and just how much she has accomplished in the past few years.
If you haven’t read Mary’s inspiring story, read it here.
“I came here and became a refugee,” Dr. Gichuhi told The Weight She Carries. “Finding yourself in a situation where you are your own rescue…that was my situation when I got here. So I’ve put 100% into training, self-developing and reinventing myself.”
So how exactly has she been able to write so many books? I reached out to Dr. Gichuhi to ask her about her accomplishments as a single mom, author and entrepreneur.
On time management:
Every second counts. As soon as I drop my son at school, I get busy creating content. Every single extra second I have is utilized in revenue-generating activities and content creation, which is writing books for me. I sleep very late. I sacrificed everything for my future. There’s one quote that [my mentor Dr. Will Moreland] always likes to say: we are all equal in time but separated by what to do with our time. I have a serious plan for my time. I created a schedule for myself because time management is key.
I focus best in silence, and that can only be at night. So I spend 4-5 hours writing every night. During the day, I focus on different aspects of creating my business. I’m trying to perfect my art of speaking, so there are many little things I need to master to be a successful speaker, for example, the business side of it. I’ve been speaking, but I’ve not been speaking as a paid speaker. Now I’m trying to transition to become a professional speaker. People think it’s just standing on a stage, but there are a lot of things that are involved.
I also do a lot of research for the books that I write. I also write for other people. There are some testimonies on my Facebook page from some people I have written books for who are now bestsellers. I was a research student before I came to Europe, so I’m good at researching topics. In my free time, I’m either exercising or creating.
You mentioned exercising. What role has that played in terms of building back your self-esteem after being in a domestic violence situation?
It’s about work/life balance for me. One thing I learned is that even if I continue growing my legacy, and I have neglected the physical, there is still a drawback because I want to look and feel good. People assume that being abused only affects the mental, but it affects the physical because you can lose your appetite or start getting bigger. You may lose your shape because you’re not motivated to do anything. I realized that after having my son, I was not motivated to do anything. Initially, I was still crying about what I’d gone through, but over time, I realized that I was going to speak at different places. And when I met young people, I wanted to have self-confidence. So I started embracing myself, loving myself 100% and realizing that it is about me; it’s not about them. I have to be at my best, not only mentally but also physically.
It’s about giving attention to all areas of my life. There’s no area of your life that’s more important than the other. There’s a physical aspect; I exercise. There’s the mental: self-development. And there’s also the spiritual part; I meditate a lot on the Word of God. So it’s just trying to make sure that I take a holistic approach.
Let’s talk about you completing your PhD. What is it in?
It’s a Doctorate in Philosophy in Humanities. I’ve always liked school. When I came here, I had already completed five years towards a different PhD program at the University of Nairobi. I thought I would never be able to graduate simply because I had to flee for my life. Some time after arriving here, I decided to pursue another doctorate, and I thank God because He wiped my tears.
You’ve refocused and used your energy to be productive in all areas of your life, and that’s something that I think is so important for people to know. You can either choose to dwell on the negative, or you can choose to move forward.
Exactly. People need to understand that. You know my story. I came here, and the only thing I had was my passport, my pregnancy and God. I had nothing…zero resources. I was in a refugee camp with nothing in a country where I didn’t speak the language, and I didn’t know anybody. People give excuses for staying where they are, but for me, I think my story can encourage anyone because I’ve risen from a point of zero. This proves that you do not need much in life. Focus on your gifting. That’s the key. Don’t focus on what you don’t have. I have my brain. I have creativity. And that is everything that has gotten me to be where I am.
It does not matter what is happening in your life. It does not matter the place you are in life. What matters most is your willingness to be better.
And I think the most important thing is we need to acknowledge the truth. It was really by God’s grace.
What kept you going during your toughest moments?
My son has always been my ‘why’ and a compelling force for everything. He gives me a reason to fight even when things are really tough. To rise from zero, I had to change my mindset and apply myself. I got a mentor – many people do not understand the importance of getting a mentor. I had all these dreams, but without guidance, how was I supposed to have clear direction? So having that mentor or blueprint is important. You must have dreams, but dreams alone cannot take you anywhere.
This is what I tell people: in life, you can decide to do whatever you want, but what results are you looking for? Are your actions lining up with what you are trying to achieve? Also, who are you surrounding yourself with? Surround yourself with winners. Surround yourself with people who are where you want to be. Surround yourself with only quality people. Show us your friends, and we can predict your future. These are facts. You cannot be any different from the people you closely associate with. Guard your circle!
Can you name the awards that you’ve received?
My top three awards are: Best Motivational Speaker in Europe 2019, Most Outstanding Woman during the Pandemic, and I Change Nations Awards.
I really like that you didn’t wait for everything to be perfect before you started writing your first book.
It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity before it comes than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. I’ve spoken on a lot of platforms in universities here about different subjects such as overcoming diversities, depression and breaking limiting beliefs and actions to be able to create an extraordinary life to live free. I had a message for the masses, and I was determined to share it with students and different congregations. My focus was on transforming people’s lives. When you’re compelled to serve, it can make you do great things in life. When you serve, money will come. That has been key for me. My story is a good indication that anybody in this world can be anything they want to be. Use whatever you have. Everyone has something!
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.