Jackson County Corrections Officer Duncan Muiruri says his journey to becoming a permanent U.S. resident was “miraculous.” He won the lottery.
Muiruri grew up in Nairobi Kenya and was working in the banking industry when he found out about the American government’s Green Card Lottery. He and a colleague took a chance and filled out the paperwork to play. A year and a half later he found out that he was a winner.
“I won the lottery, so I say why not make the move. So many people want to come over to the United States. It might be the only opportunity that you ever get in life, so I say I’ll take the chance and see what it is like from the other side of the world,” he said.
According to Green-Card.com, “The United States gives away 55,000 US permanent resident cards (Green Cards) to winners of the Diversity Visa Lottery. USA fans and immigrants have been excited about the chance to win a permanent resident card through the lottery since the beginning of the 1990s. The story behind the lottery is America’s desire to maintain its diversity and status as the great ‘melting pot’.”
Muiruri moved to the U.S. two years ago but all of his family is still in Kenya. He had the opportunity to go back for a visit last October. “It was quite a moment, being away from them for close to two years and having the chance to go back and unite with them was really awesome.”
He said with modern technology he gets the chance to talk with them on a regular basis and see them through video chats. “We have so many applications where you can call on video. As much as you miss seeing them one on one, it brings you closer so you get the feeling of how everyone is doing and you are happy to see their faces.”
Growing up in Nairobi was good for Muiruri unlike life in some of the other parts of Kenya. In the capital city you have access to all kinds of amenities and the living conditions are pretty good, he said. He compares it with New York City with the exception that there is a national park within the city. “You can get a glimpse of all kinds of wildlife. Not like a zoo but a national park.”
Muiruri initially planned to settle in New Jersey when he moved to the U.S. but stayed there less than a month before moving to Kansas City. A friend of his sister lives in Kansas City and offered to host him and help him to get settled.
“Over here it is really important. You need to have a host family, somebody that can help you be able to get up and running,” he said.
In moving to Kansas City Muiruri wanted to continue his education and is working towards a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at Mid America Nazarene University.
A friend from Kenya formerly worked at the jail and suggested he apply for a job with the Corrections Department.
“It is really a nice place to work because if you look around to a lot of places it is one of the few that gives people from all different kinds of backgrounds an opportunity to prove themselves and also make a living for themselves,” Muiruri said. “You also get to work with people from everywhere. When you are in such a setting you see the cultures from all the different backgrounds. I would say that is a plus because life is a learning experience you keep on learning something new every day. That’s what makes you better.”
“Having come from a different kind of background where the way we speak, or our accent is different from the accent over here. You need to bring yourself up to speed. You might not get it right 100 percent but you will be able to work on some and you will be able to communicate or get a conversation going,” he said.