The World Youth Alliance (WYA) family pays special tribute to our late WYA Africa Director of Operations Vanessa Cherese Oyugi who passed away on October 17, 2016. She was taken ill for a few weeks and bravely fought through it, having lived with Lupus. Vanessa was laid to rest on October 29, 2016 in Uriri, Migori County, Kenya.
Vanessa signed the WYA Charter in 2014. She has great passion for WYA’s mission and in working with young people. Thus, she decided to do a 6-month regional internship at the WYA Africa office in Nairobi, Kenya from July to December of 2015. During her internship, she successfully led WYA Africa’s educational and cultural projects including the Africa Emerging Leaders Conference, Africa Arts Forum and Furaha Camp.
Following her internship, Vanessa was chosen as WYA Africa Program Officer. During this time, she led the trainings and internship program in the Africa region. “I believe that paying attention to the small things that many people often disregard can have positive impact to them and the future generations. I would love to have more young people who will be able to understand more about their humanity and the importance of respect and solidarity in our world,” Vanessa shared.
“I really admired Vanessa’s boldness and tenacity. She never left anything to chance and always had a solution for every problem. Having her around we never had to worry because we knew that everything was fine. She always kept the office lively and stood up for herself and for us whenever we went for a function outside the office. She always believed in justice and would not let any injustice go by without speaking up about it,” Vanessa’s former intern Kevin shared.
“Vanessa was always fun to be around and I will miss her warm and tender smile that always made people feel welcome and appreciated. Her selflessness was something to be emulated as she would go out of her way to help people irrespective of whether she knew you or not. She really had a big heart and I will miss her dearly,” Kevin adds.
After five months, Vanessa was promoted to serve the WYA Africa region as Regional Director of Operations. During this time, she continued to train and mentor the African youth through WYA’s Certified Training Program and the Internship Program. She also led regional operational management and co-managed the regional events.
Patricia Gwambo, WYA Africa’s Regional Director shares that “Vanessa was more than a colleague but a great friend. Being the directors of the WYA Africa region, we learned to be there for each other. Vanessa would never leave me in the office and I would do my best to never leave any task undone, for us it didn’t matter who got the credit but that the task was finished and well done.”
“I knew without a doubt that we were meant to work together and for this reason doing things with her both for the office and personally was a joy. She encouraged me to have fun, to be myself and to be willing to let others be themselves too. I was an extension of her home, she shared her life with me and she always carried some of my favorite food ‘Chapati’ to the office for me whenever she prepared it,” Patricia adds.
“World Youth Alliance has great potential especially in Africa that we have not yet realized. I see WYA establishing more WYA Chapters and solidifying the existing ones and widening the individual membership across Africa to create a stronger voice for human dignity influencing policy and culture in the Africa region,” Vanessa shared.
Vanessa is married to Clifford Joseph Oyugi. Due to her passion for justice and good governance, she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from the Masinde Muliro University in Kenya. Vanessa also had a passion for children, dance and travel.
Vanessa leaves us sad but blessed for the meaningful time we shared together. We pray for her family and all she has left behind. She will forever be missed.