You read it right, she was a street airtime and SIM Card vendor who kept her dream of being a hostess alive and never let any form of stage in life bring her hopes down of being what she dreamt to be. This is the story of a beautiful Edna Anyango who against all odds has lived to see herself achieve her career dream of being an air hostess from a very humble background.
Just recently, I came across this beautiful KQ hostess while on duty in a local flight but later invited her for a social talk to get more from her regarding her career journey being that the last time we had met around 10 years ago, she was far from what she is now. She created time for this and here is Edna’s story that I found worth publishing.
Edna comes from Asembo, Nyanza. Some place in Rarieda, Siaya County. A region that has also produced a top Afrozouk Star Yvonne Shanneyz. She tells me her childhood was however not so bad as they could afford a few of these necessities but things started going down after her dad retired from work just when she was about to join high school.
Born and raised in Nairobi at some place they used to refer to as Kambi, near Wilson Airport, she attended the Kongoni Primary school, located in Nairobi’s South C from 1991 to 1998 when she sat for her KCPE exams
“Afterwards I went to Raliew Mixed Secondary School back to my shagz in Asembo Rarieda. By then Raliew was a pure day mixed school. The husles of a day school I tell you. At times mvua imenyesha and you have to get home. A dude is hitting on you on your way home. It was crazy” Edna recalls.
She says she had to go to a day school because her dad could now not afford a posh school for her in the city. The whole family moved back to the village after their dad took an early retirement offer.
“When I joined Raliew in 1999 as a Form 1, my dad still had some little cash to make fee payment easy. It wasn’t easy as I joined Form 2 in 2000. In many occasions I was sent home for fee, missed classes but one thing helped me” the KQ hostess says.
Edna says she was a very active member of almost all active clubs in her school and that she used to be called back to school for these practices and this made the school administration have a soft spot for her presence at school.
“I was part of the school’s basketball team, a member of the Law Club, the chairperson of the Peer Counseling Group as well. So most of these competitions coincidentally used to happen when guys were home for fee. So my headteacher one Mr. Okach used to have me back at school as I used to do my best in these activities” she says
“I thank God because had it not been for these activities, I’m not sure even if I could have sat for my KCSE exams. Then I was also a bookworm. Sio kuruka ruka tu uko nje” she adds.
Edna says her good perfomance also led her to being appointed the school head girl after being a deputy for a year. “The head teacher would always allow me back to school, then allow my dad to settle the fees in installments, and that is how it was till I finished school”
I could not connect how now she ended up in one of the prestigious jobs after she had a fairly tough fee paying life in high school. “Some of these things are just God because I had always wished to be an air hostess today most people call us the cabin crew. Having lived next to Wilson Airport, I used to see and admire the beautiful ladies in uniform and that kept my dream alive despite what I was going through” Edna reveals
She also reminds me of a book I had totally forgotten about at this juncture. “I started nurturing the idea of being an air hostess at the age of 11 when I read a story book called ANNA THE AIR-HOSTESS. My mum could also encourage me by telling me how beautiful I was and could make the best hostess more than the ones I was seeing. I owe my dream to her”
So she makes me understand that she is actually living her childhood dream because this is all she ever wanted to be. Nothing else. “Maybe I could have tried journalism just like you in case I had to choose options now that in life you need to have plan Bs” she says.
“It took me quite a long while to achieve my dream career, but eventually God’s time came, because as they say His time is always the best. And indeed when that time comes, nothing can prevent what God has in store for you if it was meant for you. I cleared my form 4 in 2002 but became a cabin crew in 2013. Those are cool 11 years later. You can imagine the patience I had to get to where I wanted” Edna recalls.
I was interested to know what she did all these years and why she never got discouraged to achieve her dream. “This is the time I thought the world was coming to an end. I first had to get out any thoughts of campus to allow my dad take care of my other siblings. We couldn’t be at school at the same time. I had to sacrifice like 5 years doing my own stuff to let my other siblings finish their schooling too. And also being a first born, I had to lead by example by working extra hard not just sitting at home to be fed” the beautiful hostess says
It was during that time that Edna engaged in every sales jobs that could make her start surviving on her own. “I started na Simu ya Jamii. Early 2000s simu ya jamii was what people used for calls. I also did jobs like promotions in supermarkets, I did direct sales where you have to ‘hawk’ sim cards in Nairobi streets then you’re paid commission depending on your sales. But I was really good at it. I always give my best in what I do. I would sell you a sim card today and still convince you to buy again tomorrow if we meet” she says smiling.
That time she was putting up with a friend called Janet at Pipeline Embakasi sharing a room costing KES 3,000. Both were sales girls on commission and this rent was still not just easy to raise.
“It’s life at Pipeline Embakasi that I had my biggest breakthrough in life through what I can still call today a miracle from God” Edna says. With the little she made from commissions, she used to save a little to visit a small children’s home in Nairobi and make a few kids happy. It’s here that she met the proprietor of the camp, a Swiss Priest who felt touched with her kindness.
“It’s this Swiss Priest that I think God had given the key to my dream. I took that opportunity to share with him my career and just life stories generally. Might not be believable but one day he called me and asked me to check a page on Daily Nation. KQ’s Pride Center had posted their intake for the cabin crew course and others. He asked me to have a look at them if they were what I was talking about” she says.
“I got all the info and was told to leave contacts so that I be called for interview before enrolling. That happened in a week. I passed the interview and got enrolled for the 3 month course. The fee was KES 220K for the 3 month course and indeed when God’s time reaches, every way shall be cleared for you. The priest gave me the first installment of KES 120K then cleared the rest within a month” she says. “That’s why to date I still believe that good things don’t come fast but when you work putting your trust in God, He makes a way where there seems to be none” Edna adds
But again after completion of her course, she wasn’t hired immediately. “At one time I thought my dream was gone like that because it took like a year for me to ever hear from KQ. You can imagine how I felt after attending a course that I believed was a direct ticket to joining them” she says.
She did her course between April – June 2012, later stayed until August 2013 before she could get any communication from KQ. Within that year, she started a business in Nairobi’s Umoja, a local bar until August 2013 when she received a KQ invitation for a job interview. Of the 300 interviewed, she was among the 150 who were hired by KQ in Aug 2013. Edna became an air hostess having Europe, Asia and the Middle East as her major routes. Though at times she’s on local KQ flights to Kisumu, Mombasa & Malindi. She also does little of regional flights to Entebbe, Dar Es Salaam & Zanzibar according to set route duties.
Despite living her dream career, Edna says it comes with a lot of challenges. She starts with jet lag which is a common challenge during long flights. “Anyango really loves her sleep. But at times I have to stay up the whole night while on duty and at times wake up as early as 3am when I got a morning duty” she says. She also says she misses Kenyan food as most of the time she has to eat in hotels that serve frozen food that only God knows for how long it’s been preserved.
In addition, she points out that being an air hostess is not only about traveling around the world, sleeping in 5 star hotels, meeting and rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème and VIPs but it also involves being in charge of ‘passengers in plane’ safety, security, medical issues etc. She discloses they are also trained on midwifery just in case maternal need arises. So all these aren’t so easy tasks. “They need dedication and self confidence. Remember you spend almost a good portion of your time in air too. So it’s just God” she explains.
Another challenge she says is you become socially detached as you are always on board to destinations. “Your kids and family suddenly become visitors to you and your domestic manager becomes their new mum” she says. Of her busy schedule, she gets to see her family back in Asembo twice a year when she has a longer period off from work apart from her usual short weekly offs.
Edna also discloses that she is in a relationship that she says has been a core pillar to making her be a home maker wherever she travels to and whoever she meets. “On flight we meet all kinds of VIPs including top celebrities and dignitaries who make advances but it’s a matter of being at work and doing what is right” she says.
As we finish our social moment, I ask her how old is she and I wasn’t expecting a straight answer because many ladies would not disclose it. “You can only be ashamed of your age as a woman when what you have achieved is not proportional to your age” she says. Edna is turning 33 this July 7th despite looking still in her mid 20s.
Her parting shots are inspiring:
“Stop telling God how big your problems are, start telling your problems how big the God you’re serving is. That what drives me always because what you are today is a result of the choices you made yesterday, so you are capable of changing your tomorrow by changing your choices today but only when you don’t let your past define your future. Again, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, what really matters is how fast you pick yourself up and move on because your dreams are, have always been and will always be valid as long as you breathe, God’s time is the best, do your part and leave the rest to Him” she concludes
Below are a few of what Edna’s life is currently like from different destinations around the world and in her line of duty.
For her photos in uniform, follow her on IG by clicking here as we aren’t authorized to publish them as per KQ policy.