Janepher Otieno is a single mother of four: a special needs son, two energetic boys, and one strong girl. She is passionate about motivating other single parents, caregivers, or anyone who feels disadvantaged by cultural differences or gender. Shortly after arriving in Canada from Kenya, she had trouble finding employment and was told it was, in part, because she did not have Canadian experience. The Canadians originally assumed that Janepher could not have learned good English in her native country. Far from it! Janepher is, in fact, multilingual, well-spoken in three other languages besides English and understands two more. To make ends meet in Canada, she worked many odd jobs before returning to university to study Nursing, and she worked as a Registered Nurse before opting to teach. As an instructor, Janepher has taught Nursing Communications, Pediatrics, and Transitions to Nursing (leadership, mentorship, management, teamwork, career planning), among others. Janepher set out to reinvent herself, to make the proverbial lemonade from the lemon she was dealt as an immigrant single mother raising her children in a foreign land, under the duress of culture shock and social disadvantage. Outside her formal work, she manages a team of caregivers- hiring, training, and leading team members to provide goal-oriented care for her autistic son. On the side, Janepher dabbles as a real estate investor and has designed several basement suites over the years to increase rental income for owners and/or provide affordable housing. She offers financial presentations for immigrants, as well as real estate investment strategy talks. As she puts it, “A little dance here and there can always be woven into the fabric of a busy life.” “How awkward can it get, my dear Mother?” responds her middle son every single time he sees her dancing.
Fiona Okwado is an intelligent, energetic, focused young woman raised by Janepher, a single mother of four. As the only sister to three brothers, Fiona was a diamond in the rough, forced to learn many difficult lessons as an immigrant minority girl with a special needs sibling. She earned her college certificate concurrently with her high school diploma by attending one in the mornings and the other in the afternoons, leading to two graduations in the same year. Currently, Fiona is a second-year bachelor of science student in nursing. Besides studying, volunteering, and helping out with the family, Fiona also enjoys writing a blog, www.alifeoflearningdot.wordpress.com, where she shares her life experiences from the perspective of a millennial. She enjoys engaging with youth who can relate, and she strives to give her best in everything she does. On the light side, Fiona loves dancing, playing music, and modeling whenever she gets the chance.