When our Kenya Certificate of Primary Education result were out, there were mixed reactions and expressions on my dad’s face. First he was so happy about my performance for three main reasons; For excelling and being among the top six in my district despite all challenges posed by extreme poverty, for avoiding chances of early marriage by performing so well (his desire was for me to complete my studies and be a champion of change in my family and community) and for raising the family name high. My dad was also so sad because he had nothing to take me to my school of choice. Not even a little amount of money for my bus fare. But he was so determined not to give my hand in marriage to any man. He was disabled and because of his situation my siblings and I grew up somehow isolated with very minimal/no support from our relatives and those in our area.
When a poor person’s child does something good or excels well in school, news normally spread so fast. It is like the unexpected happened. You become the subject of discussion in your school, among your relatives, the villagers and the whole community. My success story was spreading so fast.
My dad normally wakes up very early in the morning, puts on a smile, takes his walking stick and struggles to work. Our small town is normally very cold in the morning and so hot as the day progresses. My dad spends the whole day in the scorching sun in front of someone’s shop as he waits for a customer to turn up with a torn cloth for mending. It was on a day like this that he received a call from someone a week after the results were out, the person became my guardian and my mentor. He was a distance relative.
A month later I was on my way to Kenya’s capital city all the way from a very small town in Northern Kenya to meet my new family. I had only three pairs of clothes in a green polythene bag as I left home very early in the morning with someone sent by my guardian to pick me up. Of course I also had my admission to one of the biggest schools in Kenya. A week later I was taken to school on the first day of admission with everything fully catered for; my school fees, needs in school and pocket money. Before I joined I got one of the best mentorship and support from my guardian and his wife.
My new environment was a total shock to me. From a very humble environment to sophisticated and complex environment, from playing with children of my background to being surrounded by those from rich background whose way of dressing, talking, walking and level of confidence were way above than mine. It was a total culture shock. I was totally lost and I just decided to give up. So my constant weekly calls to my mentor started. I just wanted to go home or be in a different high school, most probably a local school in Marsabit. I was totally afraid. I was about to give up on one of the best schools in my country but my guardian never gave me the chance to do so. Instead he turned into a best mentor and a shoulder to lean on. Through his constant counseling and inspirational talks I started developing the strength to take myself through my studies.
My performance was not satisfactory and Instead of giving up on me he kept on pushing me ahead. It was so easy for him to send me home, organize my wedding to someone with a lot of livestock and save his little earnings for his children but he chose to change my life. Instead of stressing myself thinking about my siblings’ well-being while in school, I decided to support them with my pocket money. Through his motivational talks my performance improved and I got a chance to be admitted to University on government sponsorship program after I completed high school. His support and mentorship has helped me accomplish my desire to save my family from poverty and also an opportunity to be of help/mentor to young girls who share the same background as mine.