On the whole, I used to enjoy school. I had good friends and apart from a big aversion to maths and physics, I got on well in class. But I also use to complain about it. Complain about having to wake up early, complain about the teacher’s ‘seating plan’ separating me and my best friend, complain about boring teachers who I swore had super-human abilities to slow down time. And heck…don’t get me started on homework!! What’s that about?! You spend a whole day in class and then have to come home and study too?!! They said it was to teach about how things were ‘in the real world’, and I made a conscious decision never to get a job where I had to take work home with me.
Yes, I enjoyed school and yes, I enjoyed complaining about it too. I would long for the holidays and I’m sure, if my mum had given me the choice of going to school or not, in my naïve state, I would’ve chosen not to. I certainly wouldn’t have fought for my right to an education if my mum decided not to send me to school.
But that’s what Mercy did. She recognised the importance of school and was determined to go, despite her mother refusing to allow her. She has guts, determination and real grit. And wow, I admire her for that. This is her story:
When Mercy was 3 her father passed away and her mother left her to live with her paternal grandparents while she moved to Nairobi. Her mother quickly lost touch with her and Mercy grew up not knowing her mother or even if she was alive or not. When Mercy was 15, her older brother moved to Nairobi and regained contact with his mother. He brought Mercy to live with the city to live with their mother. The mother wanted Mercy to leave school and get a job as a housegirl to provide extra income. Mercy, however, was upset to have left her school upcounty and keen to continue her education. Her mother would refuse to give Mercy food and leave her to look after her other children in hopes of forcing Mercy to find a job, however, Mercy was determined to continue her education.
After a couple of months refusing to find a job, she followed some smaller children to Kianda and found Turning Point. After talking to Mary (project mama at Kianda), Mercy joined Turning Point and started coming to the project each morning for breakfast and some bible classes. Despite being the oldest there by around 10years, she continued to come. After a little while of coming to our Kianda centre for breakfast, we helped Mercy to enrol back in school. Schools were unsure about admitting Mercy because of her age, but eventually we got her enrolled back to class 7 and soon she was near the top of her class. She worked hard and got good results, despite continuing difficulties with her mother who would often refuse her food or not allow her any night lamp to do her homework. Last December, Mercy passed her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education with flying colours and was accepted to the Daraja Academy where she is now in form 1 of high school. She completed last term with A-.
Mercy’s determination to get an education, her unashamed attitude and her refusal to listen to other’s negative opinions about her abilities has got her far. I can learn a lot from that. It’s a lesson for us all.