Considering that the continent’s population is expected to double over the next 3 decades, now more than ever, there is the need to sensitize people about the importance of taking care of their mental health in order to avoid burnout & boost productivity.
A WHO report in 2014, highlighted that approximately 46% of African countries did not have or had not implemented standalone mental health policies. Also, the proportion of Africans who receive treatment for mental health distress remains extremely low across the board. The pressure is on governments and policymakers to act and no longer turn a blind eye to the challenges arising.
However, the efforts that many psychologists and mental health advocates have made in debunking myths about mental health have borne fruits with more people intentionally guarding & speaking about their mental health.
One such lady who is comfortable with speaking about her journey is Rachael Nyanchama, founder of Reytan Consulting and RayAfroFashions. Her experience during the 2020 pandemic was one of a lost livelihood when her work permit in Tanzania expired, and immigration frustrated her efforts in renewing it.
The ambitious woman who had just landed a job in 2019 with Wasafi Media was forced to return home – Kenya – to re-establish herself. “I am always optimistic about everything and with this, I was convinced that it was all still God’s plan to come back home after 10 years in Tanzania. My family was stressed and depressed as I am one of the breadwinners of my family so they were discouraged as to what would happen next,” shares Rachael.
Years back, after Rachael graduated from University, she was blessed with a baby girl. She then decided to move to the neighboring country – Tanzania – to explore greener pastures. It was during this new phase of her life that she felt challenged with her mental health. At 5 months along the father of her unborn child abandoned her in a foreign country.
Rachael had to return her daughter to Kenya to live with her mother at the tender age of 3 months so that she could focus on work. “You know what, life happens even to the best of us but you can’t keep crying, you have to learn to pick up your pieces, and keep moving,” observes Rachael.
Her move to Tanzania was a step of faith as she had not yet secured a job. Yet her resilience, work ethic, perseverance, and educational background helped her get her first job in the hospitality industry as a Guest Relations Officer. The hospitality industry is very busy and many times she would burn the midnight candle to climb the corporate ladder. Her hard work paid off as in just 2 years she was promoted to Front Office Manager.
After gaining experience in the hospitality industry, Rachael felt she was due for a change and she was able to secure a job at Maxinsure Insurance company. There she gained vast experience in the areas of Marketing and Human Resource (HR) Management. In 2016, she moved to Zurich Company as the Chief Operations Officer where she worked for 3 years. “Life is full of surprises, we all need to learn how to adapt to change and to make the most out of every situation,” declares Rachael.
We have all been called for a purpose that is greater than ourselves, each one of us has been gifted with something that can be used to make the world a better place. As a Christian, Rachael cultivated the habit of using her tithe for the purpose of charity, and to try and bless someone’s heart. “Investing in people has been my secret to a happy life, I would never want to die without changing a girl’s life. Life is what you make it, if you decide that yours is hard then it will be really hard,” Rachael mentions.
Her first community project in Kenya was in an informal settlement called Kibagari in Loresho – Nairobi. As a single mother, her passion is in women and empowering them to explore their maximum potential in life. Her goal is to help them find decent means of living so as to improve their living standards.
Rachael is passionate about community development and mental health awareness. She inspires people to lead a positive life and to make the most out of every situation using her Encounter with Reality Podcast. Her vision for the podcast is to create a safe space where people can be vulnerable and true to themselves about the struggles that they face in their day-to-day lives and how they can deal with them.
Rachael believes that her experiences in life have given her the grace and desire to ensure that others have it a bit easier. “Being a mother pushes me to do it, I have to inspire my girl to be a better person. I want her to be kind and to spread positive energy everywhere she goes. With the little that I have, I would rather share it with people because I believe that it makes life worth living,” Rachael says.
After returning home in the middle of a pandemic, Rachael went back to her passion for styling and fashion by starting RayAfroFashions. She is a personal stylist and shopper for her clients to help them look fabulous for their different occasions. In the process, she joined a coworking office space in Kilimani, to allow her to run her businesses, and causes in a professional setting.
“I love the fact that I get to work with different people from a variety of industries. There are so many opportunities that are shared that open doors for many people. The way people support each other at Nairobi Garage is amazing, I remember when I had my second visit to Kibagari so many people supported me in kind, financially, and by being present. Plus the staff are so friendly, they always make you feel like you are at home,” declares Rachael.
Rachael believes in the limitlessness of humans. Human beings are capable of doing incredible things. It starts with self-realization, changing the mindset, investing in your skills, and going for all the things that you want to do fearlessly.
We applaud Rachael for her efforts in promoting positive mental health through various activities and look forward to continuing to be partners in the growth of her enterprises.