Model, Entrepreneur, and Aspiring Actress Ruth Omanya shares her story to encourage, inspire, and empower others by sharing her childhood dreams, discouragements, and disappointments while pursuing her dreams in the United States.
She was a victim of physical abuse, loss and a survivor in a terrible car accident that she truly believes was a wake-up call that God had bigger plans for her than she actually realized. “I have endured pain along the way, but I know that with God’s blessing, I’m still strong and will remain strong as long as I believe that He has bigger plans for me”.
Ruth was born to Isadora Akeyo Omanya, a banker who worked for Standard Chartered Bank in Kisii, Kenya. Isadora worked for Standard Bank for over twenty- one years until her tragic death from a car accident on Christmas Eve of 1993. Her father Richard Omanya Adongo, a retired county clerk of Homa-Bay, Kenya became an entrepreneur (businessman) and politician, also passed away from natural causes several years after her mother’s death. Ruth come from a fairly well off family; she is the third to last born of her ten siblings. “As a young girl, I remember when I was growing up, and with whatever little exposure I had of American life through TV shows such as ‘Different Strokes’,’ Good Times’, or ‘Three’s Company’, somehow it made me feel connected, and I always imagined that someday I would live in this great country. I did not know when or how it would happen that I would end up in the USA someday - it was just faith at the time”.
Over the years and during her secondary schooling, she recalls almost losing this faith and possibly going through the most depressing time of her life. Ruth remembers grieving throughout the entire four years of high school. Ruth’s grandmother passed away suddenly from a cardiac arrest on my first year of high school. Her first born brother George Omanya passed away on her second year of high school. Her mother passed away on a tragic road accident on her third year of high school and, as if that was not enough grief three years in a row, Ruth lost yet another brother, her favorite brother Hanisch Omanya right after she graduated from high school. “I really miss them so much! Not a day goes by without me thinking of my late parents, brothers, and sisters. I shed a tear every time I think of them.”
After High School, and despite all the grief around her, Ruth was determined to move on with her life. Her dream of travelling to the United States had not completely died as she thought. She was determined to keep pushing. Ruth applied to several U.S. colleges, received a few rejections, but was finally accepted to join a university in Baltimore, Maryland. With everyone still grieving at home, her father completely lost and confused from her mother’s tragic death, her brother’s deaths and financially strained from paying for funerals year after year; feeling discouraged and hopeless, Ruth reluctantly decided to seek help from close friends and relatives to help her raise money to travel to the U.S.A.
Although this did not work out as she hoped, a close family friend, Mr. Wanga came through and made arrangements with her father for her travel and a place to stay while she was in the U.S.A. during her studies. “This was an unexpected miracle for me, with all that was going on in my life at that time. I felt blessed and hopeful that despite all the pain, loss, and grief, there was still a God and He really cared. Most importantly, I’m forever grateful for Mr. Wanga and my father. It is true that behind every success, there is always someone who made that success possible. Even in my life today, I try to acknowledge people who influence my life!”
All was set, and Ruth was able to travel to the United States as planned. Ruth hoped to further her studies while pursuing modeling on the side. Life was not particularly what she hoped it would be. It was not quite all roses as she imagined it. Adjusting to a new country was a major struggle. Her first year in the U.S.A. was probably the toughest time she faced. As an international student who was not allowed to work in the U.S.A, she was financial strained with no income except when her father would occasionally send her money. During this tough time, Ruth was also in an unfortunate situation, a victim of physical abuse from her boyfriend at the time who also happened to be Mr. Wanga’s son! The abuse went on for a period of a year until one day, Ruth decided to leave after saving just enough money to afford a bus ticket to Chicago where her uncle Richard and Aunt Reba lived. “I have not told many about this part of my life; only select few know this part, yet as I speak with a heavy heart about it now, I’m reminded of how these wounds would never heal. I particularly felt betrayed because the perpetrator was someone I trusted and his family was trusted by my family as well! ”.
Life in Chicago, though, was completely different. It was the beginning of a healing process and time to let go of the pain, betrayal, and grief that Ruth never really quite put to rest. With her Uncle and Aunt’s assistance, things were looking up. Her uncle immediately enrolled her in a local college. Ruth also pursued agency representation in modeling, although faced some obstacles and discouragements along the way. She was determined to make her dreams of becoming a model come true. Her focus would be rudely broken by the death of her brother Clifford Omanya. Just when she was just getting back on track, she was yet again grieving. “It literally felt like the world was closing in on me! What did my family do to the world to deserve this much pain? What did I do to go through so much pain? Clifford’s death was tougher to me because it took place at such an inopportune time of my life. I was just picking up the pieces of my life. I had no money to travel back to Kenya to attend his funeral. I never had closure because I never attended his funeral. I still don’t have closure today”.