Diana Naswa beat all odds to become a pastor at a church in Huruma, Nairobi. She shared her story with the Nairobian.

Briefly, who is Diana Naswa? 

I am the third born in a family of five siblings. I grew up in Moi Forces Estate in Huruma. My father was an architect and my mother a secretary. While my mother was deeply religious, my father, on the contrary, was an alcoholic.

Was there any harmony in the family, given the circumstances?

Basically no, there was no harmony in the family. All my father was concerned with was alcohol rather than the welfare of our family.  I also did not have a good relationship with my mother as she used to beat me a lot, compared to my siblings.  This made me develop a negative attitude towards my mother whom I thought hated me.

How did the strained relationship with your mother affect you?

When I was 13 years old, I started rebelling. My mother was very harsh on me and my father was nowhere to be seen. I felt that the home environment was inhabitable. My mother did not give me any room to interact with other people, especially boys or men. When I got some bit of freedom I started interacting with a certain boy and unfortunately, I became pregnant. The thought of my mother’s retribution made me run from home and seek refuge at my friends’ place in Huruma estate.

Who was the father of your child?

The father was a certain makanga in the area and he simply jumped ship and disappeared into thin air after I told him about the situation. I was left with nothing to do but abandon the baby at home and run away.

What happened after leaving home?

Most of my friends were drug users and peddlers. It was hard to be in their company and avoid taking the drugs. My friends started introducing me to different types of drugs including alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine among others and eventually, I got addicted. I didn’t see it as a big deal abandoning my little baby.

For how long did you do the drugs?

I got addicted and became dependent for about 15 years. Chasing the ‘high’ forced me to engage in uncouth jobs and practices just to get money for drugs. I even became a hooker after running out of options so as to sustain my addiction. As a hooker, I would drug my clients and steal all of their valuables before disappearing to another zone. I also got into robbery, mugging and then graduated into a notorious gangster using powerful weapons.

At what point did you decide to come out of criminal life?

Most of my friends had been killed by police or apprehended.  Others had been eliminated by mob justice.  I witnessed most of these things and they used to give me hallucinations. To forget about this, I would indulge in more drugs and alcohol. However, my drinking buddies advised me to quit the life of crime considering what had happened to my criminal gangs. I opted to go back home.

Did your mother accept you when you went back home?

Yes, she didn’t throw me out as she thought I was a changed person. However, due to my addiction problem, I found it hard to settle. I started stealing her valuables like phones, chicken, money, and other things which I would sell to get money. I had a desire to change but my addiction problem could not allow me to immediately. When I found it almost impossible to change, I opted to commit suicide, which I attempted three times but each time, it backfired. So I decided to turn to God. I gave him an ultimatum to either change me or kill me because I was even tired of my life.

Did he heed your call?

There was a certain person by the name Ndirangu who I used to meet at a certain bar in Huruma. He was also formerly a drug addict but got changed after undergoing a rehabilitation program. He asked my mother if he could take me to a rehab center. My mother obliged.  With her permission, I was taken to Kiambu Christian Teen Challenge Rehabilitation Centre. I was successfully rehabilitated and managed to become a drug-free person.

Two years after coming out of the rehabilitation program, I joined a bible college, Buruburu East Africa School of Theology where I graduated with a diploma in theology. By the grace of God, I am currently a co-pastor at K.A.G church Huruma.