By African Warrior Magazine International Correspondent
If there is one thing Salome Ndinda has perfected, it is the art of drawing her eyebrows. She knows how high the arch should be, and the intimate details that go into filling in the strands of hair for a great faded out brow. Women flock her makeup page to learn how to transform their looks.
“I am passionate about makeup because it helps me express how I’m feeling. What most people don’t understand is that I usually glam up when I’m feeling like a mess.” She says.
For her, make up application is not just an act of slathering foundation and color on the face. Beneath the layers of cosmetics, glittering highlighters and a drop of blush lies a warrior – a woman who has sunk into the underbellies of sorrow and depression, and is slowly regaining herself.
It all started 5 years ago when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. “Sals” as she is commonly known on social media was in Netherlands and she describes the anxiety of having a loved one battling a chronic disease in a far land as harrowing. Every call she got from Kenya about her mother’s illness made her worry even more. Through the help of friends and relatives, she walked with her mother through the dark path of cancer treatment. In a strange twist of fate, Sals also got diagnosed with colon cancer a year later.
She says fighting cancer is a series of tears, pain and loss of belief. She lauds her social connection in Netherlands, and the friends she had made through social media for reminding her to fight harder when she started facing the side effects of chemotherapy. Both of them are currently in remission, and Sals says she has found comfort in makeup and the thrill it brings.
“Makeup is an art. It’s a way to express oneself. When my spirits are low and my pain is getting the best of me I tend to want to look my best. I can’t feel like a mess and look like a mess. Generally I end up having positive remarks from people and that instantly raises my spirits. Plus who doesn’t want to have their brows on fleek,” she says.
She has lived in Netherlands for almost 20 years. She moved in with her mother when she was a child, but her mother relocated to Kenya a few years ago. Sals says living in diaspora has its ups and downs, and can be draining, especially when your days are filled with thoughts on how you will pay your bills; a life she says defines most people in diaspora.
Ironically, she says having a cancer diagnosis gave her a break and shifted her perspective about life in diaspora.
“Getting sick while out there was a pleasant experience because of how unburdened I was. Don’t get me wrong fighting cancer is not fun but not having to worry about bills makes it easier. You focus on you rather than where you will get the funds to pay for the surgery and chemo sessions. I know it’s weird that this has been my best experience for me in diaspora,” she says.
She has regrets on some of the choices she made in her younger years.
“I got married too young, had soap opera type of expectations that never materialized. I was definitely not his rib and he made sure I knew it. Escaping from that marriage was another not so pleasant experience. I ran for dear life. Divorce is never a pleasant thing but I wasn’t going to let him suck the little life I had left out of me,” she says when talking about her brief marriage to a Dutch man.
Having stayed in Netherlands for two decades, she gets a lot of questions from people back home, asking her for connections and guidance on how to move to Netherlands and what it takes to be successful abroad. She often tells them of the realities on the ground. The language barrier they will first encounter if they move without taking basic language lessons, and that they may have to go back to school to get better jobs.
“You will need to work hard if you want to achieve your goals. Money does not fall from trees. At times you will need to rely on just yourself to make it. People tend to keep to themselves. That is one thing I miss about Kenya, people are very social,” she says.
Despite the many challenges that have buffeted her life, she says she pursues what she is passionate about with all she has. She loves makeup, and cooking. She uses her social media page to showcase what she knows, and she has amassed a huge following.
One thing she says over and over when people ask her how she has managed to have a positive outlook in life is: “You cannot let your past struggles define you. Live now.”