One of Kenya’s leading literary minds Ngugi wa Thiong’o recently published his memoirs titled, “Dreams in a time of war“. He talks about how hard it was for a young boy in Kenya to have lofty dreams of success in academia or anywhere else for that matter in colonial Kenya during the second world war. Many from that generation look back to those days without much nostalgia, content with the knowledge that their children can dream and follow their dreams in the modern Kenya. However, somewhere in the heart of Laikipia, there is a still a war going on. A war that pits hapless girls against a society that values them in terms of the cows they would fetch as a brideprice rather than the sum total of the woman education would mould them into in posterity.
Meet Elizabeth, her friend call her Liz. Unlike many others she can dream and has in her hands the means to make it a reality. Thanks to The Ol-Pejeta Conservancy and PA-MOJA, she just might be the next big thing on TV someday . Sadly, many of her peers are trapped in a viscous cycle, doomed to repeat the lives their mothers and grandmothers before them.
Elizabeth lives in Rumuruti in Laikipia county with her mother 2 brothers and 2 sisters. She went to Ireri primary school. When she was admitted as a form one at Saint Francis Girls Secondary, she regularly missed school after being sent home for failing to pay her fees. As a result, her perfomance took a downwards spin and she nearly dropped out of school altogether barely a year after starting.
Educating, feeding and clothing her five children was proving a daunting task for her single mother who was however determined her daughters don’t flounder in ignorance of fall into the trap of early marriage. Earlier this year, Elizabeth’s life however took a turn for the better when she was awarded a PA-MOJA bursary by Ol Pejeta.
Now she is in form 2 and no longer has to worry about being sent home for fees. The support has renewed her focus and her performance has been on a steady rise since then. During her free time, she plays volleyball and takes part in long distant running. Her mom only has to support her with basics like pocket money and shopping since her fee and other expenses are fully paid for. “Am happy I can focus on working hard so I can become a newscaster in the future”. She says this with a determined smile that declares, “TV here I come”. During the course of the interview, she constantly thanks Ol pejeta as she says without the bursary; her dream of completing high-school would have remained as just that.
By Ian Muiruri