Featured Storyteller

KENYA: My Dad Sent Me to School and My Whole Family Benefitted

Sabdio Roba
Posted September 6, 2016 from Kenya
Photo Credit: Reuters Staff / Reuters Pictures

Education allowed Sabdio to escape early marriage and send her younger brothers to school.

“By the age of seven I already had a suitor.

I was born on a Saturday morning in a small village in northern Kenya. When my father told everybody around that the rock of his life and his strength had been born, people laughed at him. No one had ever heard of a girl child being someone’s strength.

One of my aunts replied, “May you get many sons to be your rock, and may our daughter be blessed with a lovely suitor.” In our indigenous, pastoralist community, marriages are arranged by parents, and a girl child can be engaged to a man when she is as young as four years old.

When my mum married my dad, he was a strange man she had never met and knew nothing about. She ran away on her wedding night, and it took the villagers a whole day to find her. As a girl child, my mum lived her life with many restrictions. When she was married, she did not understand what boy-girl relationships were all about, let alone anything about starting a family. She gave birth to me, her first born, at the mere age of 15. She was lucky to marry a kind and caring man.

As I grew up, we had several visitors who came in the evenings to discuss something in low tones with my dad. I soon realized I was their target. Myalkum (someone from a specific clan who I am supposed to marry) had finally arrived. By the age of seven I already had a suitor, but amazingly my dad still decided to take me to school.

My dad is disabled and the last born in a family of four. In pastoralist communities like ours, girl children and last born children have no privileges to inherit any of their father’s livestock.

Although my dad had nothing of his own, his disability won him sympathy from government officials and missionaries who gave him some tailoring training and a sewing machine. Because it was too difficult to establish a tailoring business in our nomadic community, we moved to a nearby small town where my dad would get a maximum of two dollars every day to mend torn clothes.

The little amount he received from his tailoring business was not even enough for our daily needs. He had no money to pay for our school fees, but he still decided to take my brother and me to school.

Luckily, primary school education was made free three years after I joined school. That news made my dad so happy that he sent messages to all those who asked for my hand in marriage, telling them that I would be continuing my education.

Studying was difficult and I walked two kilometers to my school barefoot or in worn shoes, sometimes on an empty stomach. Despite all the difficulties, my father gave my brothers and me every support we needed to excel in school.

I was always the best performing girl in my school. When my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education results were released, I found out I was among the best students in my district. I got support and sponsors to continue with my studies.

Most of my relatives were against the idea of me continuing with my studies but my father rejected their opinions. He gave me the freedom to study up to the highest level and decide for myself when to marry.

While I was in school, I supported my family with the pocket money I received from my guardian and sponsor. I completed my secondary school education, excelled, and earned sponsorship from the government for my degree. While at the university I got a scholarship from a local bank for university expenses. I used that money to pay school fees for my brothers. I ensured that all of my brothers excelled in school and joined the universities of their choice. I am now able to support my father and mum.

My dream is to start an organization to save girls from early marriages and to ensure every girl has an opportunity to learn. I am mentoring girls in my area and I also mentor women and train them on small income generating activities. My education allowed me to be a rock and source of strength for my family. Now I am showing the world what a girl can do for her community once she gets an opportunity to excel.

Comments 18

Log in or register to post comments
Jessica Foumena
Sep 07, 2016
Sep 07, 2016

Sabdio Roba 

Dear Sabdio Roba,

Your story is so beautiful and well-written yet powerful. I had tears while finishing reading it. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you to your Dad for sending you to school and keeping you away from child marriage. I'm ready to support you in your adventure to end child marriage and to promote education for girls. You are one of the reason why I created my organization "Women & Africa International.

BTW please submit this story to the WP story award and all the best.

Love,

~Sister Jessica

Sabdio Roba
Sep 07, 2016
Sep 07, 2016

Thank you so much Jessica,

I am so much humbled by your words of encouragement and support. My dad really tried his best against all odds. Reaching out to every girl child, giving her the opportunity to learn and empowering her is one of my greatest desires and dream. I will be so happy to make that dream come true!

Love,

Sabdio

mariane pearl
Oct 28, 2016
Oct 28, 2016

dear Sabdio

my name is Mariane Pearl and I am the Managing Editor of the Chime for Change campaign and would like to talk to you about your story on your father. Can you please email me at CDC journalism@gmail.com so we can talk 

bests

mariane

Ahhdg
Sep 07, 2016
Sep 07, 2016

Hi Sabdio,

Your story is so impressive and stimulating. It's so glad that your dad is farsighted. You remind me of my mom. She is the first college student in my family, and that totally change my life I believe. As my mom is educated, she realise the importance of education. Therefore, althought my father doesn't value me as much as my mom, my mom supports my education under pressures from others' opinions and words. I'm very lucky that my grandfather gave my mom the opportunity to accept education, and now that opportunity gives me chance to accept education again.

Education means a lot especially to-date. According to your story and my mom's story, I thought one feature contribute to education's value is its transmission and profound impact. Perspective of parents is one of decisive factors. I hope your dream can come true and help more girls and women in your community, your city, even your country.

Best,

April 

Sabdio Roba
Sep 07, 2016
Sep 07, 2016

Thank you April,

Am glad to know about your mother. Having an educated mother who values education for girls is a big blessing and I say thank to her for giving you the opportunity to go far despite your father's issues. 

Wish you all the best...

Soet
Sep 09, 2016
Sep 09, 2016

Christine, I've read your story and suddenly realized I didn't know you enough during those four years. I commend your for your courage and resilience. May God guide you through the pathways of service and grant you unique favour.

Sabdio Roba
Sep 09, 2016
Sep 09, 2016

Thank you Soet...

Sep 09, 2016
Sep 09, 2016
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
khachina
Sep 09, 2016
Sep 09, 2016

Hi Sabdio,

So nice to meet a woman as revolutionary as you! I am graduating in a week and by Jove it feels great to defy odds. I feel so good and excited to know that we are more than one out here and that means that change is coming and it is coming fast and steady. I was born not far from your home culture. In my home village girls get married too, men study to provide for them and be able to pay dowry. I was born in Pokot. Feels amazing to know that we share the same ideologies; uplifting women and we both come from Kenya! Could we link up? Share ideologies? Experiences? My organization helps women have a platform with their talent and generate income and you give them education and life skills. Let us make dangerous women out of them! Let's voice them. Our website is creativespiazza.com. We could work together in some projects and expand each other's ideologies. How a great way to start my day; your post is a blessing!

Sabdio Roba
Sep 13, 2016
Sep 13, 2016

Hi Khachina,

Thank you for your wonderful comment. I am happy to know about your initiative and the great work that you are already doing for women. Linking up is a great idea and I am looking forward to us sharing experiences, ideas and a long lasting friendship/collaboration in making of dangerous women...I will send you message about my contact details.

cheers!!

Sabdio

helen.ng
Sep 11, 2016
Sep 11, 2016

Hello Sabdio,

Thank you for sharing your very inspiring story! It's so great to hear that despite having others constantly put pressure on you to marry at an early age, your father helped you on your way down your educational path. And from that wonderful education, you were able to receive a scholarship to support your brother. You are the epitome of a hero and model citizen. You inspire people every day, including myself. Congratulations on how far you have come on your journey, and I look forward to hearing more about your future endeavours!

With kindest regards,

Helen Ng

Sabdio Roba
Sep 13, 2016
Sep 13, 2016

Hi Helen,

Thank you so much for your encouraging comment. I will keep you updated as I look forward to great things.

Best Regards,

Sabdio 

Chelsea Maricle
Sep 12, 2016
Sep 12, 2016

Dear Sabdio,

It is an honor to know your story! Thank you for lifting up my heart. Stories such as yours that are testament to what believing in oneself and one's family can bring—specially through education—need to be shared with the world. I'm so glad you have shared yours with us, and please keep us posted on your journey, especially your dream to start your own organization!

In solidarity,

Chelsea

Sabdio Roba
Sep 13, 2016
Sep 13, 2016

Dear Chelsea,

Thanks a lot for your wonderful and encouraging comment. I am happy to know that my story is an inspiration to many and I hope it will motivate girls who are struggling against all odds to excel in life. I will keep you updated on my journey and the dream of giving girls opportunity to learn.

Best Regards

Sabdio

EPAMBA COMFOT TUWA
Sep 13, 2016
Sep 13, 2016

Bravo Sabdio!!!

i am so inspired and impressed by your story.It"s life transformating.Many girls are faced with those issues but they are shy to speak up.i work with girls and women too and grew up as a young girl in a community which does not support girl's education.i faced a lot of challenges too.your story has inspired me to share my story on world pulse too.Your dad is a hero.

Sabdio Roba
Sep 13, 2016
Sep 13, 2016

Thank you Commy,

I am happy to know that my story has inspired you to share with us your own great story. 

so many girls around the globe share common challenges and our stories of resilience can motivate them to fly high against all odds.

Cheers

Sabdio

ARREY - ECHI
Sep 20, 2016
Sep 20, 2016

'To educate a woman, you educate a community' truer words never spoken and how powerful it resonates as I read your story. So inspiring. Congratulations to you and your farsighted dad who didn't cave in to social pressures. May your dreams continue to come true.

www.joy2endure.com

Sabdio Roba
Oct 31, 2016
Oct 31, 2016

Thank you Arrey and blessings...