The family of the Kenyan student, who died by suicide in Finland, have pointed an accusing finger at the Uasin Gishu County Government for doing little to address the plight of students who are studying abroad.
Speaking during the burial of Rodgers Kipruto, 27 who had travelled to pursue a nursing degree at Laurea University, Tikkurila campus, they claimed that the students were abandoned once they landed in the foreign country.
Joseph Ruto, the family spokesperson and an uncle to the deceased student, said that their son suffered depression as a result of continuous misinformation fed to the students.
He claimed that on reaching the foreign country, the students found the opposite of what they had been promised as they left the country.
“We are still pained because our son was a young professional who had a bright future before him. What pains us more is that our son left the country happy and hopeful because of the promises he had been given by the County leadership,” said Ruto.
Ruto said that the promises for greener pastures had made their son, a nurse graduate from the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) leave his nursing job in Nakuru County to further his studies in Finland.
Ruto claimed that the family had then raised millions of money to help their son join the Uasin Gishu scholarship program, as he had been promised that he would work in hospitals in Finland as he pursues his studies.
He added that the student looked forward to completing his degree studies and even continuing with his Master's and doctorate studies.
“We feel that he (Kipruto) was lied to because once he landed at the foreign nation, all the promises he had got never came to be. All his dreams have been cut short barely seven months after he left home,” said Ruto.
He said that his nephew was shocked by the turn of events and could only get casual jobs where he worked as a cleaner at a supermarket, contrary to what he had been promised.
Ruto added that language barrier was also a big challenge that many Kenyan students in Finland faced.
“Without the knowledge of the Finnish language, it is difficult for our students to get jobs. We only wish that our children would have been told the truth and prepared psychologically before they can enroll in the overseas program,” said Ruto.
Justus Kizito, a neighbour, said that the government should continue with investigations into the alleged mismanagement of funds meant for Kenyan students studying in Finland.
He said that the whole program should be investigated, including the process and any misinformation fed to the students.
“What we are looking at can be equated to fraud, conning and playing games with the lives of our children. Our students cannot be lied to that we end up losing them in such a way,” said Kizito.
He said that the County Government has a role to play in monitoring the progress of the students abroad, rather than 'dumping them in a foreign country.'
Dennis Kemboi, an uncle to the deceased, argued that on many instances, Kipruto wanted to come home because he felt drained and life in the foreign country to him was unbearable.
He argued that students under the County program were left on their own with no one to liaise with in case of any challenges.
“While Kipruto struggled, there was no one to talk to and the County would do nothing about his pleas. He told us that the County only communicated when needing fees to be paid,” said Kemboi.
Kemboi said that students in the foreign country are suffering silently.
“There is a need to address the grievances that our children are facing because we do not want others to face the same thing that our son has, and we ask the authorities to act now,” noted Kemboi.
Colleague students who were studying with the deceased in Finland asked the County to maintain transparency and honesty as they encourage students to join their program for overseas studies.
Another student said that there was no need to lure students into believing that the foreign country offered a better life, while there are many challenges that the students have to persevere before they can attain stability.
“We ask the county to be truthful to the students so that they do not have high expectations and leave their stability in Kenya for a tough life abroad,” said the student.
Daniel Ondieki, another student, said that new students often have challenges with weather differences, finding jobs and language barriers.
“While leaving, students were promised heaven, but I can say that we were delivered to 'hell'. What we found in the foreign country was different from what we were told. The fee delays led to the cancellation of classes and threats of deportation even as other students were still missing jobs,” said Ondieki.
Winnie Jepkosgei, another student, said that the deceased nurse was a student leader who was jovial and determined.
“All I can say is that there is a price for lying, and it will catch up with you in due time. For the months I have been in Finland, I have learned the importance of being truthful. The fee challenges have been trouble for us and Rodgers, although he was outspoken, he could not bear any more the challenges that he was facing,” said Jepkosgei.
Moses Lagat, a Kenyan who has lived in Finland since 2006, said that it takes some time before new students can learn the Finnish language, the Finnish culture and be able to get jobs.
The representative of the Kenyan community in the European country said that the cost of living in the country is also high and that the students should be supported so that they are not overwhelmed.
“It is important for parents to know the fee structure, accommodation costs and cost of living in the country before sending their students in order to avoid challenges that could affect them,” said Lagat.