School fees: Community wants Baringo mother refund atheists’ funds

A combination photo of Idriss Saidi Lutta (L), who emerged the best student in Mogotio sub-county Baringo in the 2019 KCPE exams and his mother Lillian Ayabei (R) who could not raise the required fee that would see Lutta join Maranda High School. The Atheists in Kenya Society pledged to pay Lutta’s high school fees. [Photo Courtesy]

The family of a needy student in Baringo County has welcomed the support of Atheists despite pressure from residents opposing the funding from the Godless.

A WhatsApp group which was used as a fundraising platform split and collapsed after realising the Atheist in Kenya Society had also offered to help pay for the boy’s high school fees.

The contribution was aimed at helping Idriss Saidi Lutta whose family could not afford the required fees that would see him join Maranda High School.

Lutta was a student at Emining Primary School and emerged the best in Mogotio Sub-County, Baringo, after getting 401 out of 500 marks in the 2019 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCSE) exams.

His parent, Lilian Ayabei, is a single mother of four who sells vegetable to earn a living.

A section of people in the group took an issue with the Atheists’ lack of belief in God asking the family to refund the atheists their money.

The society had cleared Lutta’s first term fees of Sh27, 000 and pledged to support him throughout his secondary school education.

“Sasa familia ikifanya hivyo, mtoto atasoma vipi na kwasababu hatujachanga pesa ya kutosha ya kusomesha mtoto,” said Lutta’s primary school class teacher madam Zipporah Rono.

The community had raised Sh52,000 for Lutta and according to Madam Rono, contributions from members have stalled since the atheists pledged to support the student throughout his secondary education.

“This is a very delicate situation. The community wants the family to refund the atheists their money yet there is no assurance we will raise Lutta’s fee in full. On the other hand, the atheists have offered to support Lutta until form four,” said Ms Rono.

According to Rono, Lutta’s mother only wants to see her son in school regardless of where the money comes from.

“Why don’t we vet money being contributed in churches every weekend? Someone might be evil but hiding under Christianity. Yet, we always accept their help because we give them a benefit of doubt that they are doing it for the good,” said Ms Rono.

The single mother of four was left with a tough choice between heeding to the community’s pressure to refund the money and accepting the atheists’ help which would probably upset her community.

After an informed understanding of the non-believers, Ayabei told Standard that she welcomes the society’s help as long as they have no plans to recruit Lutta into atheism.

“This is in the best interest of my son’s education. We have already counselled Lutta and cautioned him to shun anyone who would ask him to convert into atheism because of this favour,” she said.

Lutta reported to Maranda Thursday last week with the escort of Madam Rono.

Where it all started         

Last week Harrison Mumia, the President of the Atheist Society of Kenya, announced that the society had cleared Lutta’s first term fees and was committed to helping him throughout his secondary education.

Atheists in Kenya (AIK) president Harrison Mumia during a past interview. [File, Standard]

Before the announcement, Mumia was added to the group by Ms Rono.

Upon realising his low-key presence in the group, a section of the members started lashing out at him, accusing him of having a hidden agenda against Lutta.

Madam Rono, the group’s inceptor, was not spared either as some members accused her of conspiring with the Atheists to raise funds for Lutta’s education.

Mumia was left defending the society’s contribution urging the members to embrace differences in beliefs.

“Irrespective of our beliefs, we are all human. The air you breathe is the same air I breathe. When my brother is in need and I can help, I will help,” he said replying to the agitated group members.

He added: “I want all of us to be accommodative and realise we cannot be all the same. But when one suffers we must put our beliefs aside and help.”

The community members were against the Mumia-led kind gesture insinuating that the atheists want to convert Lutta to atheism.

Mumia, however, maintained that the organisation had no such intention and was helping because it is the humane thing to do.

“I am only interested in educating Idriss. He is bright and must complete his education. The Atheist in Kenya Society will help him achieve his dream” he posted in the group.

Contrary to earlier reports that Mumia was unceremoniously ejected from the group, he left on his own after realising that the group members were uncomfortable with his presence.

Ms Rono told Standard Digital that she was forced to shut down the group due to “negative energy” which stalled the contribution after Mumia’s atheism came to light.