Dorcas Wambua, a former ‘mboch’ who started working as a housegirl aged 13, is now a second-year education student at Kenyatta University. She shares her trials and how sponsors rescued her from the jaws of misery with ABUTA OGETO
Tell us about yourself...
I was born in a well-off family but ended up poor after my father’s relatives kicked us out following his death in 2003. I was 11 then. We literally had to struggle to survive after that.
What exactly happened?
My mum had to do menial jobs to keep us in school and feed us. But in 2005, she fell ill and was in and out of hospital for two years.
She often defied medical advise and continued working. We were on and off school as we struggled to take care of our mum, as well as due to financial constraints. My mum passed away in 2007 and I had to drop out of school in class seven.
Where did you go after that?
I was employed as a house help by my mother’s cousin. I was earning Sh1,000 per month. I decided to save Sh500 every month and spend the other half. But sadly, to date, I have not received my meagre savings. I was just 13 when I started working there.
Where were your siblings?
My elder sister got married and the other one was taken by an uncle who was working at Kebene Children’s Home. He is the one who informed the sponsors of my case, and they came to my aid. I enrolled at Kithasyu Primary School and sat for my KCPE in 2008.
While here, I stayed with another maternal relative who lived near the school. She just made my life hard. My troubles were fuelled by the fact that I did better than her kids in school. If I took a better position than her kids, the following day I would fetch water the whole day on an empty stomach.
When did you relocate to the children’s home?
That was after my KCPE. I was admitted at Waa Secondary School, and during the holidays, I would come back to Kebene. At the home, I had a new family, new parents, and for once, I forgot about my challenges. In fact, during my first holiday in form one, I was pleasantly surprised to find my younger sister Faith among the children. We stay together till now.
What about your elder sister?
She got married and stays with her husband in Nairobi.
What was your lowest point?
While schooling at Kithasyu in Kibwezi, I wished I could die peacefully at night...my aunt hated me because I was one of the brightest pupils in school and performed better than her children.
She mistreated me. I would be sent to fetch water on a bicycle only to return and find they had eaten and washed the dishes. Most of the time it was teachers who brought me food in school. She used to really cane me. Things got worse when I passed KCPE with flying colours.
Did these experiences discourage you?
They strengthened me and made me work hard so that my kids would not undergo the same. They made me believe in miracles. Sometimes when I remember how the sponsors came my way, I cry. I think they made me so spiritual and humble. I am now chasing my dreams.
I will be a qualified teacher soon. Jeremiah 29:11 has never had a better meaning: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”