Girl overcomes wheelchair trauma to post top grade in KCSE exam

Top KCSE student Victory Tabitha Wachira with her mother Dr. Rose Wachira. [Fred Kagonye, Standard]

Victory Tabitha Wachira is among the 6,407 candidates who scored an A- (minus) in the recently released Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination results.

"I am excited. I did my best, and everything worked out for me," she says. The 17-year-old had an overall grade of A- (minus) of 77 points out of the maximum 84.

In the respective subjects, she performed as follows: English (A), Kiswahili (A-), Mathematics (A), Biology (B+), Physics (A), Chemistry (B), History (B) and CRE (A).

The story of the teenager would, however, have turned out different were it not for the support of family and the Alliance Girls' High School fraternity.

She wrote her exams while in a wheelchair after she and her brother got involved in a road accident on their way back home from her school on March 4, 2022.

She injured her face, eyes, nose and tongue in the crash. Wachira also broke her left hand and leg.

"I was conscious through it all, I witnessed everything that happened," she told The Standard on Saturday, December 21.

Wachira was taken to the Outspan Hospital in Nyeri County, where she spent the next month receiving treatment.

Her stay in the hospital wasn't easy.

She says she feared not being able to go back to class for that term. That would have meant that she probably repeats the class.

"While in the hospital, I thought about repeating Form Four because of the tuition that I was missing," she said.

Her stay in the hospital was, however, made easy by the presence of her mother, Dr. Rose Wachira, who is a trained teacher but works as a Counselling Psychologist in Kerugoya, Kirinyaga County.

The teenager's mother says that her biggest task was to ensure her daughter's self-esteem wasn't affected, since her face had been deformed and couldn't do much on her own.

On the day of the accident, her son had gone to pick up Tabitha from school, and he was supposed to pick up his other sister from university to accompany them home.

The phone of Rose's other daughter was faulty, making it impossible for her to communicate with her brother. That meant that the university student missed the ill-fated trip.

Her son got injured in the accident, but his injuries were less severe compared to Tabitha's.

Dr. Wachira says her son blamed himself for Tabitha's condition, adding she had to counsel him out of guilt.

When Tabitha resumed learning, schools had been in session for three weeks, and she says that her fellow students helped her to catch up on the syllabus.

By this time, her hand had begun healing, but her leg and eyesight were yet to improve.

Dr. Wachira says that the school made arrangements to have her class shifted from the fourth floor to the ground floor for easy access.

Tabitha's classmates, however, rejected the arrangement and, instead, offered to help her with movement.

"My friends welcomed me back in school very well," she said.

"At times they'd even bring me food in the classroom and keep me company. That meant that I minimised my trips to the dining hall for meals."

Her science teachers also decided against holding some of the lessons in the laboratory because that meant that she'd struggle to access the facility.

"She would, at times, call and tell me that she is in pain, but I would just encourage her to hang in there," Dr. Wachira said.

When the pain would become unbearable for her, Tabitha used to go to the Kikuyu Hospital for medication and pain management.

Dr. Wachira says she had to visit the school regularly to check up on her daughter.

Tabitha says that the gesture from her classmates made her stay in school easy, and she felt she owed them a good performance. "I was positive through it all because of them," she said.

Her mother says she was worried about her child's would-be performance after her (Tabitha's) pain became unbearable during the mock exams.

A medical report from the doctor showed at the time that one of her bones wasn't growing as had been projected, and that a corrective surgery was needed.

That meant that she'd miss the KCSE exam if she undergoes the procedure.

"As a result, we decided to postpone the procedure," said Dr. Wachira.

Tabitha is due to meet with her surgeon in the last week of January to evaluate her progress and see if she still needs the surgery.

Course in medicine or engineering

Tabitha's stay in the hospital led her to admire the medical field. She says she is considering pursuing a bachelor's degree course in medicine.

"I spent a lot of time in the hospital and that gave me a lot of passion to care for people," she said.

If she won't pursue a course in medicine, she will pursue her childhood dream of becoming an engineer, said the teen.

Looking back, she is grateful to the Alliance Girls' High School community for helping post good grades.

"It is the kindness, the small adjustments in time-table and lessons venue that have helped me to perform well," she said.

Tabitha still can't walk for long distances and often uses pain relievers to manage her condition.