Julie Weche | Meet the Kenyan Driving School owner teaching Swahili in the USA

By The Bharat Express News

A Kenyan teacher is getting noticed in the United States of America by running a center that inspires the black community. Julie Weche is the founder and owner of the Elimu Tutoring Center in Baltimore, one of the most populous cities in the US state of Maryland.

Weche teaches Swahili to the black community and over 15,000 TBEN living in the city benefit from his lessons.

The Swahili teacher went to Kenyatta University in Nairobi before continuing her studies at the University of Maryland and Alberto University in Canada.

She then started her career as a high school teacher in Kenya before moving to Botswana where she worked as the director of the University of Botswana’s Early Childhood Learning Centre.

With her deep passion for working with children and her wealth of experience, Weche settled in Baltimore as the next course in her life.

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She incorporated a driving school named Elimu Driving School under the name Elimu tutoring and training center in June 2016.

However, in 2020, Elimu tutoring center was shut down by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan after the pandemic hit.

Hogan ordered all non-essential businesses to close to save on revenue. He built makeshift hospitals in Baltimore and funneled millions of dollars to protect small businesses.

The closure took a toll on the center, forcing Weche and her staff to produce masks to stay afloat.

“The pandemic affected us so much. We went into a complete shutdown. We had an empty building and we didn’t know what to do.”

“On March 15, 2020, the government shut down all non-essential businesses and we were one of them. They considered us non-essential because our services came after school tutoring. We used to choose the children and tutoring them and our services have been hampered by the closure,” Weche said.

Elimu Driving School archive photo
Elimu Driving School

At that time, the center also declared a community initiative which was also affected by the effects of the pandemic. Weche, with the support of her husband, Tom Mwaura, reached out to the Kenyan community living in Baltimore.

The community launched a fundraising campaign called the Okoa Elimu Program. Within two weeks, the community reached and surpassed the Ksh 3.5 million ($32,000) target, helping the center get back on its feet.

“I actually started selling masks but it couldn’t support the center as the lease was ending and the landlord was about to evict us. So we contacted our Kenyan community members and decided to launch the OKOA Elimu program which raised $32,000 in two weeks,” she noted.

Due to the restrictions and containment measures imposed by the administration of US President Joe Biden, Elimu Tutoring Center has redefined its operating model and adopted online courses.

“In September 2021, when virtual learning started, a parent contacted me and asked how we could help her. She pressured me to go to work and have her children go to school. I researched online learning and embraced it,” Weche noted.

After the government allowed it to fully resume operations in June 2021, the center embarked on organizing low-budget events such as weddings and fundraisers for the Baltimore-based Kenyan community.

According to Weche’s husband, Mwaura, plans are underway to register the center as a fully registered nonprofit.