Kariuki Jamlick Mwangi is interviewed by China News Service in Beijing, Jan. 24, 2024 (Photo: China News Network/ Li Jun)
By Zhao Li
(ECNS) -- Jamlick Mwangi Kariuki, a 26-year-old Kenyan student pursuing a master's degree in civil engineering at Beijing Jiaotong University, said he was inspired to receive a letter of reply from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Kariuki and his friends, who were sponsored to study in China in an exchange program for the Mombasa-Nairobi railway, wrote a letter to President Xi to express their great pleasure in learning railway operation and management knowledge.
To their surprise, they received a reply from the president recently, in which the President encouraged them to continue contributing to the friendship between China and Kenya and between China and Africa.
“We are very happy and very inspired,” Kariuki told China News Network on Wednesday, saying that he had not expected that they would even receive a reply.
“The reply was very long and very personalized. Besides leading the country, President Xi still has time to consider the international students in China, and he recognizes we are here and he cares about us,” Kariuki said with excitement.
Besides the letter, Kariuki said they sent a special gift to Xi, a ticket for the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
Built by China Road and Bridge Corporation and officially opened to traffic in 2017, the 480-kilometer railway is Kenya's largest infrastructure project, connecting East Africa's largest port city of Mombasa and the country's capital city of Nairobi.
Kariuki believes the railway has powered the economic growth of his hometown by creating jobs, enhancing trade, and improving transportation.
“In the past, it took eight to nine hours to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa, but now it only takes four hours. I hope that one day President Xi can use the train ticket we gifted him to take the railway and experience the convenience that this railway has brought to us,” he said.
He mentioned that China is not only assisting in the infrastructure development of Kenya but also helping nurture talents in the country.
“After the completion of the railway line, it was discovered that we lack the capacity and the expertise to operate and maintain it. So there was an exchange program to help educate Kenyan engineers,” he said.
“I'm studying civil engineering at Beijing Jiaotong University, which has enabled me to employ the skills in rail maintenance for the railway in Kenya,” Kariuki said.
In their letter to Xi, they also expressed their hope to serve as a bridge of friendship between Kenya and China and contribute to enhancing friendship and cooperation between the two countries and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
“The Belt and Road Initiative is to make sure we are connecting the world and help achieve shared development. We young generations should carry on these ideas and make a better future for mankind,” he said.