The Sunday of 10th March 2019 had me receiving a strange call from a girl I knew nothing about but not even the shaky voice would stop Jane Wambui Ngatia from seeking help.
It was a difficult request; the request to help raise her University fees as her strong B+ of 73 points was going down the drain due to poverty.
This is the story of Jane Wambui Ngatia and her desire to achieve her dreams despite her poor financial background, an ailing Father and a mother who is torn between manual labor, taking care of a sick husband and a child (Jane’s sibling) with a heart condition.
Jane, who lives with her family of six siblings in a shanty in Thung’ari, Kieni East Sub-County in Nyeri County has had to always work extra hard to achieve the very little in life.
Jane was the hope her family needed, and that she knew too well, as she strained to keep her grades high from her Primary School days despite going to bed hungry on numerous occasions.
Jane began her schooling in 2004 at a local primary School in Ndiriti Primary school, sadly for her, it is the same year her father, the family’s breadwinner, got diagnosed with Tuberculosis (TB) and Meningitis.
Lucky for Jane and her family, her father survived the attack but was too weak to work and provide for his family leaving the responsibility solely to their mother who had to do menial jobs that have not always been forthcoming.
In 2011, young Jane sat her KCPE exams and scored 316 marks out of 500, in a different financial background, this would have been a great mark to proceed to Secondary school but for Jane, whose parents could not afford to pay for Secondary school, this was a Fail!
At a time when Jane’s mother was nursing her last born, Jane’s baby sister, who suffered heart problems and Jane’s father who for the longest time had been rendered immobile by a Meningitis and Typhoid attack, Jane’s secondary school fees was impossible for the family.
Jane had heard of the Wings to Fly program by Equity Bank but 316 marks were not good enough to qualify her and she knew better than to give up, she repeated her class 8 in 2012 with a renewed zeal. Jane managed to score 360 marks which automatically qualified her for the Wings to Fly program securing a sponsorship through her Secondary school education.
An elated Jane joined Gataragwa Girls Secondary School in 2013 where her next challenge was to qualify for university intake. “Wings to Fly kept its promise and financially carried me through Secondary school in Gataragwa, I can never thank them enough,” Jane says the gratitude all over her voice.
“In 2016, I sat my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and scored a B+ of 73 points, my family and I were overjoyed.
“The joy was soon cut short after the Wings to Fly program announced that they would only continue with students who scored A and A-,” Jane narrates terming loss of the sponsorship as the worst in her hope to achieving her dreams.
“I was one point to achieving the A- that would have qualified me for the Wings to Fly program and the news shattered my family as my parents watched helplessly,” Jane explains.
“There were quiet nights when everybody would sulk in their silence not knowing what to say, my Father avoided my eyes and I knew he was pained but helpless in his condition,” Jane shares.
“In 2017 a letter informing me that I had secured a slot at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology arrived,” Jane shares adding that she had been invited to pursue BSc. Civil and Structural Engineering.
“It was painful to watch my mother sell her only two cows to see me enroll in the University,” Jane recounts adding that it was a sacrifice that took her through her first Semester but her second Semester was not so smooth and was not allowed to sit her exams due to the fee balance.
“In May 2018 while on second-semester things had become so bad I used to borrow food from my friends in the university and when I wasn’t allowed to sit the exams, there was no point hanging around the university so I traveled back home,” Jane says.
“Once at home, I began looking for a job to assist mum with the family expenses, I got one at butchery where I was employed to cook and clean dishes,” Jane narrates the turn of events where she was paid 250 shillings per day.
It is during the employment that Jane began experiencing pains on her right breast and a visit to the local hospital got her diagnosed with fibroadenoma.
“The HELB money came in late after I had already missed my First semester, it was 16,000 shillings, not enough to cover my fare back to Masinde Muliro University, rent for accommodation, food and the fee considering I already had a balance,” Jane notes.
“I hence used the 16,000 shillings to seek treatment on the fibroadenoma on November 2018 hoping I would get cured and seek employment,” Jane explains.
October came and Jane was supposed to report back for her 2nd year at the University but broke and with little awareness of the avenues to seek assistance from, she remained stuck at home.
On March 4th, 2019, Jane thought of visiting her Primary School headmaster Mr. Mwaniki, who is currently a few months to retirement, at Ndiriti Primary school to share her story and seek guidance.
“At the beginning of this year, I promised myself to talk to anybody that will listen praying that an angel will come my way and support my schooling, the joy I had when I scored the B+ has gone but I refuse to let go of my dreams without a fight,” Jane says emotionally.
My phone rings and I stare at it feeling scared, it’s my Primary School headmaster, Mr. Mwaniki, it’s his second call since he got my number, his first call was with a tough request that I’m still unable to fulfill.
I pick and yes, it’s another tough assignment from my Primary School Headmaster, he says it’s the last one but after listening to him, I realize why it’s so important to him, he has watched Jane work so hard and watching her lost at home must be very painful for him.
To assist Jane Wanjiru, kindly contact Soko Directory on (020) 05280222 or [email protected]
You can also reach the author of the story on [email protected]