Overcoming adversity: Girl working as security guard to raise varsity fees

EDUCATION |

Sarah Anyango,22, was hopeful of joining university to study economics. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

She opens the gate with her eyes firmly on everyone entering Nyamwanga Primary School in Butula Constituency, Busia County, with the astuteness of the economist she wants to become.

Sarah Anyango,22, places a thermo-gun on the forehead of every visitor before reading the temperature to them aloud. Those with higher-than-normal temperatures are not allowed into the compound.

"I love working in a school environment, it reignites my desire to go to the university and study," says Anyango.

Anyango was hopeful of joining university to study economics. After all, she had scored a B (plain) in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams which guaranteed her admission to the University of Nairobi.

The university, in February 2019, went ahead to send her an admission letter for a Bachelor of Economics degree.

However, there are many hurdles in her way, the biggest one being school fees. Anyango, an orphan, needs Sh28,500 to join university. She doesn't have the money. 

Her certificates had also been detained by St Francis Rangala Girls Secondary School in Kisumu, where she sat her KCSE exams in 2017, over fees arrears. The 22-year-old needed Sh15,000 to secure her certificates.

Using her university admission letter, Anyanogo applied for a loan and the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) gave her just Sh16,000 in March of 2019. Of course, the money was not enough. 

By the time Helb was giving her another Sh16,000 in December of the same year, Anyango had already deferred her course. She took the money to Rangala Girls to clear her fees arrears.

All Anyango wanted was to collect her result slip and certificates which she hoped would help her secure a job so she can save for her university education.

Since help was not forthcoming, she decided to not sit back and feel sorry for herself. She started doing menial jobs to raise the money she needs to go to university.

Anyango, an orphan, needs Sh28,500 to join university. She doesn't have the money. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

"I did all manner of jobs in people's homes but what I earned is not enough to finance my university education. It has turned out to be a hand-to-mouth affair," says Anyango.

And if what she was going through was not bad enough, her aunt who adopted her when she was just seven months, died. The late Caroline Juma took Anyango to school. 

"I wanted the earth to open and swallow me up. The death of my aunt hit me hard," she says.

She adds: "I had called virtually everyone to help me and done every odd job available, including laundry, but I was not making any headway."

Anyango went to stay with her sister who sold vegetables at a market in Nyamwanga village in Butula.

One day, while walking around, she saw a poster advertising the position of a watchman at a local school. She decided to give it a try.

"I was moved by her letter of application. It was well-written and her grammar was on point. I felt she was overqualified for the job,” says Eunice Orone, the headmistress at Nyamwanga Primary School located along the Busia-Kisumu highway. 

She adds: “I invited her for an interview after which I gathered she had a scored B in her KCSE exams. I was interested to know why she had applied for the job. I later learnt of her frustrations trying to join university. I offered her help to some level."

Other than offering her a job, Orone linked Anyango with one of her teachers, Susan Atenya, who is a counsellor.

"After assessing her, I concluded that she had suffered a lot and was not in the best frames of mind. I figured it would be good to introduce her to one of our teachers who is a counselling expert," says the headteacher.

"We also require that a watchman buys their own uniform but since Anyango could not afford it, the school decided to buy one for her."

Sarah Anyango received her first salary of Sh4,000 last month.  [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Anyango received her first salary of Sh4,000 last month. "I don't know by when will have saved enough to join university but this is better than nothing," she says.

"It is tough but I am doing my best so I don't lose my place at the university,” says Anyango who hails from Ugunja Constituency in Siaya County. “I think with the result slip and certificates, my MP or even the county government can be able to help me.”

Ms Orone hopes Anyango will be able to raise the money she needs and join the university.

"Time is of the essence. If it takes her too long to get the money, her opportunity to join university may slip away. I am calling on wellwishers to come to her rescue," said the headteacher.

Orone adds: "She is very positive though. And she does more than is expected of her. We see how she has been helping pupils cross the busy Kisumu-Busia highway to school. You also find her helping pupils with Mathematics. She scored a straight A in Mathematics in her KCSE exams.”

Anyango says: "I will continue praying and working hard. I want to achieve my dream. I hope God will send a good samaritan someday to help me achieve my dream." 

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