From Being Fired to Running a Successful Online School

Life often presents us with unforeseen challenges and hurdles that can shake our very foundations. We, Yuka and Nick, have experienced our fair share of obstacles, from battling illnesses and financial constraints to facing termination from our jobs in the education sector. So how did we set up a successful music school, you may ask? More on this in a moment. 

Amidst the tempestuous storms we weathered, we found ourselves navigating the complexities of a long-distance relationship and enduring the harsh criticism that accompanied our international marriage. To make matters more arduous, Yuka faced the heartbreaking estrangement from her own family after announcing her decision to marry Nick. 

With the added responsibility of raising young children and the weight of uncertainty upon our shoulders, we found ourselves grappling with countless challenges. Yet, within the cloudy depths of our journey, we discovered a glimmer of hope—a silver lining that propelled us forward. 

If you find yourself in the midst of a tumultuous situation, feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to navigate the rough waters, we want you to know that you are not alone. We understand the hardships, the sleepless nights, and the relentless doubts that can plague your mind. We have walked that arduous path, and we are here to share our story of resilience and eventual triumph. 

Join us on this blog as we delve into the intricacies of our challenges and triumphs, offering practical insights, heartfelt anecdotes, and actionable strategies to inspire and guide you through your own hardships. Let us walk together, hand in hand, as we discover the strength within ourselves and embark on a journey towards a brighter future.

Remember, dear reader, every cloudy day has a silver lining, waiting to be revealed. Let our story serve as a beacon of hope, reminding you that no matter how challenging life may seem, you possess the power to overcome and emerge stronger than ever before. 

Together, let us turn obstacles into stepping stones and embrace the beauty of resilience. Welcome to our blog—a sanctuary of shared experiences, encouragement, and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

In a world saturated with tales of triumph and success, we dare to delve deeper. Our journey goes beyond the surface as we uncover unspoken chapters and reveal our vulnerable side, often concealed from view. Amidst the vast ocean of blogs and podcasts, we’ve noticed a prevailing trend – the portrayal of a flawless image, showcasing only the successes and victories. 

However, we believe that genuine connection and profound inspiration arise from embracing our entire human experience, encompassing the highs and lows, victories and struggles that shape us. With this understanding, we embark on a different path. We choose to share not only our triumphs but also the tribulations that have shaped us into who we are. 

By inviting you into our world, we extend an opportunity for true understanding of our essence. Together, let us embark on this shared journey, drawing inspiration from the tapestry of life where every thread – both dark and light – contributes to the breathtaking beauty of our existence. Welcome to our story, may it kindle a flame of hope within you.

Where It All Began: Nick

I was born into a family of 12 in a remote part of Kenya, where I received my education until the age of 13. Life was simple, devoid of electricity, paved roads, and piped water. Our source of entertainment included games like hide and seek, dodgeball, climbing trees, and building homemade go-karts. It was a carefree existence, free from worries and filled with joy.

Although my family had a natural inclination towards music, we never had the opportunity for formal education in the field. Nonetheless, I developed a keen interest in singing and began writing songs that addressed social issues, which I eagerly shared with my family and friends.

Being privileged to travel to the city, thanks to my father’s profession as a Clinical Officer who had studied in Australia and England, our family became role models in our village. We garnered both admiration and envy, with many looking up to us. However, jealousy reared its head when I was just six years old. One scorching afternoon, as I left nursery school, a child walking with me invited me to his house for a drink of water.

Unbeknownst to me, the water had been maliciously tampered with, laced with a chemical substance. Consequently, I was rushed to the hospital in an emergency, and my mother carried me on her back, traversing miles in search of medical assistance. I endured locked jaw, multiple convulsions, and excruciating stomach pain, as if my insides were being torn apart.

The will to succeed

After leaving the hospital, feeling improved, I made a personal commitment to work diligently and avoid falling into the repetitive village life cycle. I became extremely cautious and carefully selected my friends. This determination led to my acceptance into the top National School in Kenya, where I was exposed to a world of abundant opportunities. I began seeing the world from a fresh perspective, with the goal of continuously improving in everything I pursued. It was during this time that my fascination with the power of music truly blossomed.

In high school, I encountered a music teacher who forever changed my life. Recognizing the passion in my eyes, he imparted invaluable advice, saying, “Nick, music is not merely a hobby—it is a calling. Embrace it, and you will never regret it.” Encouraged by his words, I followed his guidance and enrolled in university to study music education. However, as is often the case in compelling stories, obstacles emerged along the way.

There were people who warned me, “Music won’t put food on the table.” I responded, “Perhaps not, but it can bring a smile to someone’s face.” Despite encountering discouragement from certain tutors, I remained resolute in making my dreams a reality. Even when my instrument tutor at the university discouraged me from playing the violin, it only fueled my determination to succeed. I developed a stubborn streak that propelled me forward, leading to my accomplishment of earning a first-class Honours degree in Music Education.

Throughout my university years, I utilized my musical talent to raise funds for my tuition. I secured a position in a small music school located on campus. Originally established as a family business run by one of the university lecturers, primarily aimed at teaching their own children music, the school eventually expanded its reach to the local community. This expansion provided me with additional clients and much-needed financial relief.

My first job and further studies

During my final year of university, it was mandatory to gain teaching experience in a school setting. Fortunately, I was able to secure a position at a British curriculum school located in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Simultaneously, I received several offers to work as a peripatetic instrument tutor at various schools. This not only enhanced my Curriculum Vitae but also increased my chances of finding employment beyond government postings.

As my teaching practice neared its end, I decided to apply for a job at another British curriculum school situated in Nakuru, a city approximately 150km north of Nairobi. I successfully secured an interview and was subsequently hired as the Director of Music, marking my first official teaching position. I dedicated eight years to teaching in this role before taking a one-year hiatus to pursue a Master’s degree in Music Technology.

Meeting Yuka

It was during this time at the University in the UK that I chanced upon meeting my beautiful wife Yuka, who happened to be studying a different course in the same University. As I was a Director of music at the University Church, Yuka was introduced to me by the Pastor who mentioned that she was interested in joining the choir. 

Yuka embarked on her journey to meet Nick from a challenging background, where her family unit was constantly threatened by domestic violence. Determined to break free from these chains, she pursued her studies in Japan until undergraduate level.

During a difficult period, Yuka found herself at rock bottom, contemplating ending it all. However, a significant turning point occurred when she encountered a Christian woman who introduced her to Christianity. This encounter profoundly impacted her life.

Reflecting on her past experiences, Yuka came to the realization that she had more than enough, while countless people outside Japan were suffering from hunger, sickness, war, malnutrition, and lack of basic necessities.

Driven by a sense of purpose, Yuka felt called to venture out into the world and extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. With this mission in mind, she made the decision to enroll at the University of York in the UK to study Postwar Recovery.

Little did they know that destiny was about to unfold, paving the way for an unexpected connection. Yuka and Nick had no inkling that their paths were destined to converge as Yuka stepped into the University church one sunny Sunday morning. Her sole intention was to join the music team, which happened to be under the leadership of Nick, the Director of the team.

The Proposal and long Distant Relationship

Their friendship blossomed into something more profound. After completing their studies, Yuka paid a visit to Kenya, where Nick resided. Little did she suspect that this trip would mark a significant turning point in their relationship. It was during a school assembly, with numerous students and staff as witnesses, that Nick mustered the courage to propose to Yuka, sealing their love in a moment of pure vulnerability and joy. You can watch the full proposal captured on the day here.

Shortly thereafter, Yuka made her way back to Japan and secured a position with an NGO. This job propelled her into a world of travel, taking her to various locations where she dedicated herself to assisting the less fortunate and serving those in need. 

These endeavors marked the inception of a challenging two-year period, during which we (Yuka and Nick) found ourselves in a long-distance relationship. 

It was a time when internet communication was limited, requiring us to rely on other means to stay connected. Coupled with the fact that the time difference between Kenya and Japan is 6 hours meant that we had to seek a compromise on what time to connect online. However, our love persevered, and Yuka’s unwavering commitment to her work eventually led her to secure a position with an organization in Kenya, focused on assisting the Maasai community.

The wedding and subsequent jobs

When Yuka made the move to Kenya, our physical separation presented a challenge, as she was stationed in a remote area approximately 200 kilometers away from my own place of work. However, we were determined to bridge the gap and maintain our connection. For nearly a year, I commuted during weekends to be by her side, finding solace in those precious moments together.

As fate would have it, an opportunity arose that allowed us to close the distance between us. Yuka was offered a position at the same school where I was working, bringing us closer both personally and professionally. It was a joyous turning point in our journey.

In the summer of 2010, our commitment to one another culminated in a simple yet beautiful garden wedding. Surrounded by our cherished friends and family, we exchanged vows, creating a treasured memory that forever remains etched in our hearts. For a snippet of the day, you can watch this video of the wedding reception here.

During this period, the idea of organizing international trips for the school began to take shape. Recognizing the value of cultural exchange and the transformative power of travel, we embarked on a mission to provide enriching experiences for our students. With the support of the school and parents, we initiated Music and performing arts tours to the UK every other year, offering our students a unique opportunity to explore new horizons and showcase their talents on an international stage.

As our passion for creating unforgettable journeys grew, we transitioned to another esteemed international school, where we continued our dedication to arranging Music and general performing arts tours. This time, our focus shifted to Japan, a country close to our hearts. With the collaboration of the school we were employed at, we enabled students to immerse themselves in the vibrant Japanese culture, exchange artistic expressions, and forge lifelong memories.

Through these international ventures, we aimed to broaden horizons, nurture creativity, and foster a global mindset among our students. The impact of these transformative experiences resonated deeply, shaping not only their artistic abilities but also their appreciation for diverse cultures and their own personal growth.

Being Fired

One fateful morning, after dedicating three years of unwavering commitment to our roles at the school and pouring our hearts into the work we loved, our lives took an unexpected turn. Summoned to the Headmaster’s office without prior notice, we received the devastating news that our jobs were being advertised that very same day. It was a sudden blow, leaving us stunned and uncertain about the future.

As the weight of the situation sank in, a sense of fear and anxiety gripped us. We had a growing family, with two young children relying on us for their well-being. The prospect of unemployment left us with limited options and an overwhelming sense of despair. In that moment, it felt as if our hopes and dreams were shattered, and we were confronted with the harsh reality of an uncertain road ahead.

However, amidst the darkness, a flicker of resilience ignited within us. We refused to succumb to despair and instead chose to embrace the challenge as an opportunity for growth and reinvention. With unwavering determination, we embarked on a journey of self-discovery, seeking new avenues and exploring uncharted territories. Little did we know that this seemingly insurmountable setback would become the catalyst for a remarkable chapter in our lives.

In the face of adversity, we held onto the wisdom of an age-old saying attributed to Hippocrates: “desperate times call for desperate measures.” With shattered dreams in our hands, we gathered the fragments and forged a new path forward. Sitting down together, we engaged in deep introspection, reevaluating our options and contemplating the road that lay ahead.

In a bold and daring move, we made the decision to establish our own music school. But the challenges seemed insurmountable. The first hurdle was finding a suitable venue that could accommodate our aspirations. Through persistence and unwavering determination, we were granted a space within a local church, which became the foundation of our new endeavor.

With the stage set, we threw ourselves into the relentless pursuit of success. Armed with passion and a strong belief in our mission, we implemented vigorous marketing strategies, reaching out to the local community with unwavering enthusiasm. Every interaction became an opportunity to share our vision, drawing others into the world of music education.

Though the path was fraught with obstacles, our commitment never wavered. We were driven by a deep desire to make a positive impact on the lives of our students and the community at large. With each passing day, our music school began to flourish, fueled by the resilience that arises from embracing challenges head-on.

And Then Covid Hit

In the face of the unprecedented challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, our determination remained unyielding. While the world seemed to be at a standstill, we saw an opportunity for growth and progress. Rather than succumbing to the bleakness that surrounded us, we embraced the shifting landscape and forged ahead.

Our story caught the attention of media outlets in both Japan and Kenya, becoming a source of inspiration for many. This newfound exposure attracted students from diverse backgrounds, hailing from various countries. To adapt to the changing times, we swiftly pivoted and began offering online music and language lessons. This decision proved to be a game-changer, propelling our growth in leaps and bounds.

Today, our reach extends beyond borders as we continue to provide online lessons and expand our services. In addition to teaching and consultation, we have ventured into the realms of international tours, podcasting, and blogging. These endeavors allow us to connect with individuals from around the world, fostering a sense of community and sharing our knowledge and experiences.

Embracing the path of homeschooling, we found ourselves immersed in a unique opportunity to work closely with our children, unlocking their true potential as a family. This journey of self-discovery and personal growth has further fueled our passion and determination. As we continue to build and expand our services, our impact spans 23 countries and counting, with each day bringing new opportunities for connection and transformation.

Community outreach

We are excited to share with you our latest endeavor, a community outreach program in collaboration with Chazon Children Centre. This remarkable school serves children who have been deeply impacted by the post-election violence of previous years. While they receive education at the center, we recognized that these young individuals still require additional support to thrive.

Motivated by our passion for music and the belief that it has the power to transform lives, we initiated an outreach program specifically tailored for the children of Chazon Children Centre. We understand that music lessons can be costly and often inaccessible for those with limited resources. With this in mind, we sought to bridge the gap and provide these children with the opportunity to explore the world of music.

Through our outreach program, we offer music lessons to the students, enabling them to develop their artistic talents, express themselves, and find solace in the beauty of melodies. By nurturing their creativity and musical abilities, we hope to instill a sense of joy and inspiration in their lives.

We invite you to learn more about this impactful project and the incredible work being done by visiting Chazon Children Centre page. Your support and engagement are invaluable in helping us make a difference in the lives of these deserving children. Together, we can create a brighter future filled with hope and opportunity.

Our journey is a testament to the power of perseverance and the resilience of the human spirit. It is a reminder that even in the face of adversity, opportunities for growth and success can emerge. Through the creation of our music school, we found a way to navigate the stormy waters, transforming setbacks into stepping stones towards a brighter future.

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Thank you for taking the time to engage with our story. We sincerely hope that our journey has ignited a flame within you, a flame of inspiration, resilience, and unwavering determination. May this flame continue to burn brightly, illuminating your path and guiding you through the challenges and triumphs that lie ahead. Remember, within you lies the power to overcome, to persevere, and to create a story that is uniquely yours. Embrace the flame within and let it light up the world.

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