Next month, Diana Jones has a date with doctors at a Cairo hospital. Her four-year-old son is scheduled to undergo plastic surgery due to burns he got a few years back. The reconstruction will not only be physical, but will also have the significance of erasing scars borne out of a relationship that ended badly.
Diana, a Kenyan model and former beauty queen, says one evening her boyfriend came home and went ballistic. In the ensuing chaos, their house went up in flames. The young boy almost lost his life. He escaped with serious burns. Having already undergone a number of implant surgeries for his hands and body, the boy will be receiving attention for the face burns. About 70 per cent face was burnt. Growing up as a poor orphan, after losing her parents when she was 10, life has been full of ups and downs for the psychologist.
In 2000, she lost her only brother and parents to tuberculosis. She relocated from Nairobi to live with her grandmother before resuming school at Asumbi Girls’ under the support of the Catholic Church. The next stop was Mary Hills Girls’ High School, in Thika, then Kenyatta University, Kilifi, (now Pwani University) where she was enrolled for a Hospitality and Tourism Management degree. Diana says she will be going to the University of Manchester, England, next year for her master’s degree as she pursues her dream as a psychologist, teacher and trainer.
Now living in Cairo with her British husband, 50, whom she met after this incident, Diana says the future is bright. For the hospitality professional, it has been an epic journey with twists and turns, one that still has cultural, racial and social differences at play with an extended family back at home still seeking answers as to how she could get married to a ‘white man’ whose children are in their 20s.
“Since Matthew and I did a civil wedding at Sheria House in Nairobi in February last year, after meeting and dating online, our biggest challenge has been going back to our grandmother to explain to her how we met and how we have children who are above 20 (years),” she says.
They got married after four months of dating online, and while Diana says many would judge her, she is happy. “I am not letting naysayers dictate my future. I have already experienced many challenges that have taught me to think right and determine my tomorrow. It is too late to turn back,” says the 30-year-old with finality.
“I wanted my son to have a better future and after I took him back to the village where I could support him and my grandmother with my daily hustles, a friend introduced me to online dating and I took the risk to look for love on the internet,” she says.
But the psychological therapist warns that online dating comes with its own risks as “it is a sea with narcissists, hardcore criminals, sex predators and con-men ready to lure innocent girls”. “I took the risk and was careful... Finally, I met Matthews, a British citizen and expatriate working in Egypt, a man who was also coming from a difficult relationship,” Diana says, adding that her husband’s biggest frustration is having people associate him with the stereotype of being “a rich white man married to a black girl”.
“Diana is a lovely person of honest character. I didn’t marry her because she is African but because she is my true soul mate. We clicked deeply and agreed to spend the rest of our lives together as man and wife. I was looking for a wonderful lady to settle down with and she was looking for a good man to love and so the feeling was mutual,” Matthew, an economist, adds.