Lucy is the first born in a family of two children. “My younger brother and I were orphaned at the age of nine. I was left in the custody of my maternal grandmother, who is now in her late 60s. I always loved school and was always in the top ten in my primary school class,” shares Lucy.
School fees, however, were a big problem for Lucy and she depended on well-wishers as well as the school’s goodwill to keep herself in school. When she was in Form two, she reached out to the Makutano Community Development Association (MCDA), a community-based organization supported by the Kenya Community Development Foundation, and MCDA offered to support her.
“They awarded me a scholarship that catered for my school fees from form two all the way to form four. Although I was happy to board at the school and have all meals provided for, I was always worried about my grandmother and brother back home. I was certain they were going without food for days.”
After completing secondary school, Lucy knew she had to take responsibility for her own life and that of her brother and grandmother. She went to live with her aunt, a mother of three and a widow. Here, she began to tutor her neighbor’s children over the holidays. She was paid Kshs. 200 (about $2) for every child she tutored and it gave her an economical boost.
“My aunt, allowed me to save every coin I made, to allow me to pay my college fees. She provided for everything I needed so I wouldn’t have to use my savings,” adds Lucy.
When holiday was over, she opened a small enterprise for me to eke a living. I would buy potatoes and make chips, which I would sell to passers-by at my aunt’s grocery stall. I went on with the business, but deep down I felt I could do something different with the education I had received. One afternoon, I decided to visit a school called Camp David Junior School. Fortunately, I met the Director and presented my case. He was impressed with my resolve in succeeding despite the odds that I faced and offered me a chance to be a teacher, but on a three-month probation period. The Director also offered to pay me an allowance of Kshs 3,000 for the three months I would be on probation subject to my performance.
I got to work and I did my best. At the end of the probation period, the director was very happy with my performance over the term. I received an Award for being the best teacher and my salary was raised. The school was happy to have me and I was sure that teaching was my calling.
During the first holiday in my teaching career, I decided to visit Mt. Kenya University to inquire about their courses.
I discussed the fees with my aunt, and she promised to help me figure out a way, and soon, we discovered that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) had a scholarship program for a college education. I went to the CDF offices to solicit for support but was told I had to produce proof that I was an orphan. I dug into these files for hours to find the original certificate, which I dully presented to the CDF offices.
I was fortunate enough to be considered for the scholarship and was certain I would be able to bridge the gap from my income. I enrolled at Mount Kenya University and am proud to say I have graduated and am now working as a teacher.
I am now supporting my brother’s school fees. I dedicate three month’s salary to his school fees and the rest to my family and upkeep.