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El Adde Al Shabaab attack robbed pupil of hope

RIFT VALLEY
By Michael Ollinga | January 16th 2017
Monicah Wambui (left) assists her grandmother to walk at their home in Soy, Uasin Gishu County. Wambui is yet to join Form One since her education sponsor was killed during the El-Adde attack. [Photo: Kevin Tunoi/Standard]

Monicah Wambui, an orphan, lost a benefactor when Al Shabaab militia attacked a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) camp in El Adde, Somalia, on January 15, 2016.

She was among pupils at Shammah Academy in Soy, Uasin Gishu County, who were affected as 10 soldiers who were parents and or guardians to 22 pupils at the school perished in the attack.

According to Consolata Wanjiku, director Shammah Academy, Lance Corporal Charles Egiron Ekidor who died in the El Adde attack had four Children at Shammah Academy but had volunteered to pay part of Wambui's tuition fees besides catering for her basic needs at school after he was touched by her story.

At 14, Wambui has been through tough situations.

"I lost my mother and elder brother in January 2008 in the post-election violence. They had gone to my grandparents home in Burnt Forest and were attacked and killed together with five other relatives and buried in a mass grave," said Wambui.

She was left with her father and 11-year-old brother Felix Mwaniki, a Standard Five pupil at Shammah Academy, after the incident.

As if fate had conspired against her, her father who was working as a matatu driver along the Eldoret-Kitale road died in an accident two years later.

Some of the over 100 soldiers who died in El Adde attack were from Recruits Training School Moi Barracks, the base of 9th Kenya Rifles, that is near Shammah Academy.

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Director of Shammah Academy says the sad truth hit them when it was confirmed that 10 parents that had gone missing during the attack were dead.

When The Standard visited the school last week, pupils were still grieving. The administration has initiated counselling sessions to support them.

"It is difficult to define last year conclusively and I can just say that it was about being in the valley and later in the hills. We lost fathers that these children were used to. It was the first time we registered KCPE candidates and their performance is our high point," Wanjiku adds.

The school that registered 17 candidates had a mean score of 358 marks where the highest pupil scored 388 marks while the lowest had 293 marks. This means all of them received admission letters to secondary schools.

Exemplary results

Wambui is among the pupils who recorded exemplary results, having scored 358 marks out of 500. She received an admission letter to Musoli Girls High School in Kakamega County.

"She is a brilliant and hardworking pupil who we could not afford to keep out of school. She had lost all her parents, her octogenarian grandmother is sickly and can hardly move by herself hence depends on well-wishers and distant aunt to get even a meal. We had a responsibility to help her continue with education," said Pauline Waithera, Shammah Academy's bursar.

Monicah Mwangi, Wambui's paternal grandmother, can hardly express herself. She is suffering from arthritis and stays indoors, only getting out when her grandchild with the help of neighbours carry her outside to bask in the sun.

Wambui's hope to join Musoli Girls and pursue her dreams are thinning by the day. She says she needs Sh53,000 but can hardly raise Sh50 for a meal. Her efforts to apply for various scholarships have so far not borne fruit.

"We need support to help her because Ekidor who did much for her died in El Adde. His wife has five children to raise alone. I also have other pupils who lost parents that I have to keep in school despite lacking fees as we wait for the government to compensate the widows. We are planning to hold a fundraiser to help her," said the school director.

One kilometre away from Shammah Academy in Lengut Village we find Elizabeth Ekidor, the widow of Charles Ekidor, going about her domestic chores. She welcomes us and with a smile keeps the conversation going.

"Last time you visited we had heavy hearts and were in tears. I cannot remember if you are the same people I talked to, but it is good you are here again. It is a year gone but the El Adde scar is still itching because I miss my husband and his love, I was compensated but my man is irreplaceable, we had great plans for the future," she says.

Just over the fence is Emmy Anunda who lost her husband, Sergeant Mohammed Anunda, in the attack. She says her life has been tough because she has not received the compensation from the Government.

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