When Grace Akinyi Owino arrived at Butere Girls High School, she was thirsty, dusty and exhausted.
The 15-year-old was clad in her former Nasiri Primary School uniform and red worn-out sandals.
Her journey had began hours earlier at Nasira village, from where she walked for about five kilometres to Nambale town in Busia County.
From Nambale she would take a matatu to Ekero about 30km away, then on to Sabatia trading centre from where she would walk for another three kilometres to the school.
“My former senior teacher Joseph Wesonga had given me Sh200 and wished me well. I asked my mother to pray for me before setting off on my journey at around 5am on Tuesday,” Akinyi told The Standard at the school Thursday.
Her mother, Susan Atieno Ogutu could not accompany her as she is too frail to make the journey.
Ms Ogutu told The Standard that she had only Sh10 on her when her daughter disclosed her decision to walk to Butere Girls.
“I thought she was just joking but didn’t want to stand in her way,” she said.
From Nambale to Mumias Akinyi was charged Sh150 and the remaining Sh50 was spent on the trip from Mumias town to Sabatia trading centre
“I (was left) without a single cent in the pocket,” she says.
She left home without taking breakfast as there was nothing at home to put in her tummy. Considering the hour she left, security was a concern but she could not be cowed.
The teenager braved the morning chill and looked at people suspiciously as she made small but sure steps towards her destiny.
“You could not trust anybody at such an hour more so being a young girl,” she says.
When she got close to the school, she saw a huge maroon and white gate with the name ‘Butere Girls high’ written across it. The joy she felt!
At this point, Akinyi’s feet were swollen and there were cracks on her lips, a sign of dehydration.
Armed with only the admission letter and with her head held high, she told the gatekeeper to allow her in to see the principal.
Akinyi was still wearing the uniform she wore while in primary school when The Standard visited the school seeking audience with the administration over her case Thursday morning.
Deputy head in charge of administration James Wetindi introduced us to her.
“Akinyi scored 392 marks in last year’s KCPE examinations and received a calling letter from this school,” Mr Wetindi told The Standard.
Unlike the day she arrived, she looked cheerful and a little relaxed. Her thirst for education evident.
“I am the only hope at home and the entire village, I would wish to emulate my role model Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu,” she says.
Mr Wetindi gave her food and a place to sleep. Thursday, she received a new set of uniform, a mattress, two blankets, a pair of sheets and several other personal effects.
School Principal Jennifer Omondi admitted Akinyi without paying the required Sh53,554 fees with the hope that a good Samaritan will come to her aid.
Akinyi was six months old when her father died back in 2003. Her four elder sisters dropped out of primary school to be married when life became unbearable.
Her elder brother is a student at Bumbe secondary school in Busia.
“I am not ready to take the direction my elder sisters and many of my colleagues have taken,” she said.