Rural Kenya: Meet Naanyu Everlyne, the girl who dreams of building a hospital
By Meshack Ian Acholla
“Halo Sir! Are you ready we start?” This is what struck me, the level of confidence from the young Maasai girl. I said I was ready and we walked down to the field together. “Have you found the best quiet spot around the school?” I asked. “At this time the best place is where the chairs are” as she pointed at two chairs, just next to the school cows grazing. I was ready to start.
“Have you found the best quiet spot around the school?” I asked. “At this time the best place is where the chairs are” as she pointed at two chairs, just next to the school cows grazing. I was ready to start.
“At this time the best place is where the chairs are,” she pointed at two chairs, just next to the school cows grazing. I was ready to start.
Evelyn Naanyu is a grade 8 student at the Kakenya Center for Excellence; she joined the school as a grade 4 from Sikwa primary school in the year 2012. “I should have been in
“I should have been in form 2 now,girls” she said, opening up more as she shared the story of her life and challenges to access education.
Naanyu like many other girls in the school come from very humble backgrounds. In her family, they are five siblings. She has two brothers and two sisters. Her little sister, the last born in their family also schools at Kakenya Center for Excellence now in class six. Of all her siblings, her brother, the second born who is now a fourth-year student at Egerton University is her role model.
“I want to go to StaGirls’ high school, score ‘A’s in all subjects and join Maseno University where I will enroll for medicine,” Naanyu says this with a lot of passion.
It was clear to me that she loves education and she is so passionate about it. She tells me of how her late mother never stepped into a classroom and was married off at twelve years. She says she wants to make her proud. Now she is an orphan but lucky to have her uncle who she calls father.
I was curious to know more about her other sister, not Mary Naisimui who schools with her at Kakenya Center for Excellence, the other one which I realized she just mentioned. She had described to me all her siblings, but her elder sister was missing in the picture.
“She is now married” she hurriedly answered when I asked about her. “She was pregnant while in form two, we now live with her child, but she refused to go back to school” Naanyu continues to narrate to me of how her sister eloped to be the wife of the man who impregnated her without telling anybody at home. “I just came from school, and I was told she is no longer around” at this point, I saw she was sad and maybe disappointed. She tells me of how she tried to convince her sister to continue with education but to no avail.
“The health and leadership camps held at our school have helped me a lot in the decisions, I make in life” she picks up the conversation with a smile. I am now encouraged to go on after the sad story of her sister. Naanyu describes to me of how her confidence level and self-esteem have improved. This is because of the health and leadership camp where they are encouraged to speak in front of others and over time they gain confidence and acquire life skills. She believes that one day, she will also make a very great leader.
“Because of the teachings at the health and leadership camp, I cannot make bad decisions that will be an obstacle to achieving my dreams. Kakenya built a school for the community; I want to be a doctor and build a hospital for the community too” she confidently says.
She gives me a plan of how she aims at qualifying for a spot at Starehe Girls, a national school in Kenya. “In October exams, I will work hard and score 400 marks so that I gauge myself on how I will perform for the national exams.” Teamwork is something she also treasures, after classes she holds discussions with her friends, Emily, Lilian, Loise and Leah who want to join Pangani Girls, Kenya High and Loreto Limuru respectively. These are all good schools they have learned about them from girls who used to school with them at Kakenya Center for Excellence. They interact together during the Network for Excellence program when schools are closed.
We finally closed the discussion, and she marveled me one more time “Can I also ask you a question” I agreed, she continued. “What level of education have you reached?” I quickly shared with her my story and determination through time to get my undergraduate degree. I saw she was impressed and told me she wouldn’t stop dreaming until the day she builds a hospital for the community.
It was at this point that I realized that there could be many other girls like Naanyu outside there, girls who have big dreams to change the world but vulnerable to harmful cultural practices like FGM and child marriage. It is sad that at this time, there are people who still believe that the place of an adolescent girl is not inside a classroom. It is sad that with existing legislation that clearly outlines the legal age for marriage; many adolescent girls are still made to be wives at a young age. But there is hope, if we raise a generation that will end harmful practices on girls if we ensure that every girl’s dream must be nurtured inside a classroom, if all girls get equal opportunities and respect then we will make the world a better place.