My dad died in 2009 when I was 12 years old and a year before I was to sit for my final primary school national exams: the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). When I finally did my KCPE exams in 2010, I scored 380 points out of 500, and was admitted to Maranda High School. Unfortunately, I was not able to join this or any other high school due to lack of money that would have covered school fees and tuition. It was extremely frustrating for me not being able to join any high school despite having performed well. Although I was disappointed, I did not give up on my education. I took it positively and in 2011, I went back to my former primary school, and enrolled in class eight (final grade in primary school). I also registered to do the national exams again. At this time, all my former classmates had gone on to high school. What this meant was that I now had to repeat all my classes with students who had been a grade behind me the prior year. This left me feeling very demoralized but I did not let it derail my efforts, I worked hard, performed well in all my classes and prepared to sit for a second time for the KCPE exams.
…I told myself to stay focused, to draw strength from my frustrations and to believe in myself.
Unfortunately, my mother passed away a few months before I was to sit for these exams. I have to admit, at this point, life seemed so unkind and unfair to me. I felt so sad and I felt like I had nothing left to give and nobody to believe in me. But I told myself to stay focused, to draw strength from my frustrations and to believe in myself. I knew if I hoped for a better life, then I had to put extra efforts in to my studies. When I sat for the national exams, I scored even higher than the first time (405 points out of 500). I was ecstatic! I also found out about a scholarship offered by the Equity Bank through their Wings to Fly program and I applied for it and won the award. With this scholarship, I was able to join one of the top high schools in Kenya: Upper Hill School and 4 years later, I graduated with an average score of A- and was accepted into Kenyatta University School of Law.
The first year and a half of college was financially challenging. Every year I needed 100,000 Kenyan shillings (approximately $1000) to pay for my tuition and university associated fees, my accommodation, books, food and other personal needs. I qualified for the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) loan but it only covered half of my financial needs. If I had not won the university scholarship offered by Rehema Education Fund, I would have been forced to call off my studies. The Rehema scholarship has enabled me to continue uninterrupted with my studies.
After graduating from university, it is a requirement that law students go to Kenya School of Law, for a two year training period. After this, graduates are admitted to the bar as advocates to the high courts of Kenya and can start their legal practice career. Kenya School of Law is not free; I am currently trying to save as much money as I can to facilitate these future studies. After this, it has always been my dream to further my education so as to be as competitive as possible in the job market. To realize this dream I intend to graduate with first class honors and get a scholarship to do my Masters.
Giving back to the society is one thing I am always passionate about. I have been part of the Equity Leadership Program, in which we voluntarily offer mentorship to Wings to Fly scholars and other students in various high schools. After graduation I plan to be actively involved in this program and other programs like it, to share my experiences with other students to enable them to unleash their full potential and realize their own goals and dreams.
Every challenge that I have gone through thus far, has been a valuable lesson for me and a preparation for what life has to offer.
The death of both of my parents was perhaps the hardest challenge I have ever had to deal with in my life. Not only did I have to come to terms with the reality of their loss but I also had to somehow find a way to fill the void they left behind. I have had to be there for my brothers, to console them and to embolden them in their efforts to push forward with their lives. I have found myself being the parent and the brother. I have also had to be the disciplinarian whenever they have done something wrong. This role has been particularly difficult for me. I myself I am still young and in need of guidance. Over the years, my grandmother has been of tremendous help to me. She has played a central role in helping me overcome my fears. She has advised me on my new role and in spite of her old age, has sacrificed a lot for our well-being. We found a mother in her and through her advice I have been able to encourage my brothers and positively impact their lives. She has taught me to always draw positive energy from life’s challenges and hope for the best. I tell my story so that it can encourage, comfort and inspire others to be determined in everything they do. My hope is that my story helps to lift up those who are going through difficult times and encourage those who are blessed to pay it forward.