|Loise Nduta Gathairu, founder of Vifukofuko Residential Recovery Centre, with her family. [Photos: Peter Muiruri/Standard]|
Loise Nduta Gathairu, 65 has dedicated her life to help drug addicts get out of the cocoon of addiction, a cause of indiscipline and rebellious to authority among youths, writes PETER MUIRURI
She cuts the image of a caring mother with her warm infectious smile. There is little in her demeanour to reveal the challenging life she has led for the last ten years as she single-handedly struggles to care for victims of drug and substance abuse.
Loise Nduta Gathairu, is the founder of Vifukofuko Residential Recovery Centre near Kikuyu town. Hers has been a long and tedious journey that saw her almost stop her formal education at Class Seven.
Despite her love for school, Loise was an average pupil whose low grades could not get her admitted in any secondary school. In 1968, her father Onesmus, then a teacher, decided to take her to Highridge Training College to train as a P3 teacher, the lowest grade in the teaching profession.
Undeterred, Loise, by then a primary school teacher enrolled for the O-Levels as a private candidate despite the fact that she was already married and had given birth.
“Those days, one could sit for exams and be a housewife at the same time. I remember finishing the CRE paper and heading straight to the labour ward for delivery of my fourth child,” she recalls.
In 1983, love for education would see her family selling a piece of land so that she could proceed to India for further studies, leaving her mother to care for her children. However, she had to take her lastborn child with her as she was too young to be left behind.
“Sadly, I was told that I could not qualify for a degree course since I had no A-Level certificate. I could only qualify for a diploma course. However, I had gone to India for a degree course and once again, I had to go back to high school, this time in India, for a three months’ course in A-Levels. Thereafter I enrolled for a degree in Sociology, Home Science and Ethics at Panjab University. Our studies were disrupted yet again during the disturbances that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Ghadhi,” says Loise.
After graduating in 1986, Loise returned to Kenya, this time doing a stint as a secondary school teacher. She would now come face to face with the undesirable results of drug and substance abuse.
“As a secondary school teacher in the 1990s, there were many cases of indiscipline that would be brought to me by the head-teacher, though I was still not a fully-trained counsellor. Many youths were rebelling against parental authority. As we came to learn, drugs and other abusive substances brought to school by students were contributing to the problem. These included cigarettes, marijuana, even local brews such as muratina and chang’aa,” she says.