2 July 2007

Kenya: Rachel Ruto, the Teacher Who Would Love the Challenge

Nairobi — If Eldoret North MP, Mr William Ruto - one of the leading ODM-Kenya presidential contenders - were to become president, part of his past experience in politics would come in handy in coaching his wife how to become the First Lady.

Eldoret North MP Mr William Ruto and his wife, Mrs Rachel Chebet, arrive at a function for his crowning as a Kalenjin elder. Rachel is ready to face the challenge of being First Lady.

For Mrs Rachel Jebet Ruto, it would not be the first time that she would be called upon to walk in the courts of power; her husband was once one of the powerful ministers in the former President Moi's Government, having been a minister in the Office of President.

Rachel, 38, quit her job at the Kenya Trading and Credit Corporation (now in receivership) in 1998 and spent a year at home with her children.

A teacher by profession, Rachel said she met Ruto while at Butere Secondary School. "He was at Wareng' pursuing his A-levels. But our relationship got serious when we were in college, I at Kenyatta and he at the University of Nairobi," she said.

They married in 1991 and now have six children; two boys and four girls. The eldest is at university while the youngest two are at primary school.

In the 30 years she has known Ruto, Rachel says the demands of his political career have not driven a wedge in their relationship and welcomes the added challenge if she became the First Lady.

"I love politics and I know what good it can do if it is played clean and democratically we talk about it at home," she says. Her conviction about politics changing the lives of Kenyans is deep. In the beginning, Rachel was reluctant when Ruto took the plunge into politics, especially when he wanted to be MP.

"I was shocked. I am from a quiet and reserved family I was not ready for the noise and the commotion in politics."

As the wife of a prospective president, Rachel believes her husband is a good leader.

"He has done well in Eldoret North, and I have no doubt that he will excel as president."

Rachel says she can cope with the rigours of being a politician's wife and often advises him. The MP makes time for the family. "We go to church together and make up for lost time in family outings he is a loving husband and a caring father".

Rachel manages the family's tour firm, Venture Africa, a job she says keeps her busy and turns her mind away from his long absence. She finds the job fulfilling and rewarding.

"I meet people and interact I add value to others employed directly or indirectly and that is what inspires and makes me happy".

As the wife of a prospective president, she believes that Kenya has the potential to play in the league of the big nations.

"We have hard working people in a beautiful, resource-endowed country, we can make the best out of it and make the lives of millions who are poor better and meaningful," she said.

If the role was bestowed upon her, Rachel says she would take up charity work to help needy children, the old and the vulnerable in society.

She would like to create awareness on issues like the environment, drug abuse and other social vices.

"I will stretch out my hands and help those whom I can and show them comfort, love and care," she says.

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