By Phares Mutembei

Not long ago, 15-year-old Richard Ooko was staring hopelessness in the face.

The Standard Eight pupil lives in the world’s biggest slum area, Kibera, where life is a nightmare. Richard experienced the disadvantages of living without proper hygiene, food, education and security. He lived in abject poverty.

"In Kibera, if you go a week without getting sick or being attacked by criminals and other bad people, you count your blessings," he told Generation Next.

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Richard Ooko

The second-born in a family of seven can now smile confidently after winning a scholarship to Malezi Academy, Nairobi. He left his former school, the Bemaca Primary School, Kibera,

"At Bemaca, studying was difficult. I would use my knees as a desk because the desks were few. Also, the books were not enough. Most of us failed examinations because studying was uncomfortable. But now, at Malezi I am happy," says Richard.

Richard feels at home at Malezi Academy, which neighbours the sprawling slum, because some of his friends also got scholarships to learn there.

"I walk from Kibera every morning. The school gives me tea, food and the books I need. I also started playing tennis and I am getting better at the sport. I have even gone to Tanzania to play tennis!" a proud Richard says.

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"I am happy now. Principal Dr Elizabeth Odera says if we work hard in class, we will achieve many things. My aim is to pass with flying colours and go to high school and then university."

Richard would like to study agriculture.

For him now, the sky is the limit.

"Agriculture is important to our country. I want to study soil and how to grow the best foods."

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