12-Year-Old Girl Inspires Entire School During Reopening

  • A photo of a team of Journalists at Mitihani House During Releasing of KCPE Results on Monday November 18, 2019.
    A team of Journalists at Mitihani House during the release of KCPE Results on Monday, November 18, 2019.
    Simon Kiragu
  • It all happened on October 12, 2020. That's the same day schools were opening their gates for the first time since the pandemic struck in March. 

    If you're a parent living in Kenya, with a child in Grade 4, 8 or Form 4, then you probably have a rough sketch of the events of that particular date.

    After an 8-month crash course on everything to do with Magoha's new curriculum, and having to take up the role of an uncertified teacher (I have a whole new level of respect for teachers. They need statues on every street in the country), where was I? Yes, the big announcement was made.

    I won't lie, it hit me hard. I remember exactly where I was on the day, right down to the plate of chapati madondo I was devouring.

    A plate of chapati and beans.
    A plate of chapati and beans.

    Not that I wasn't ready to take my 12-year-old angel back to school. Parenting has a way of turning you into a state-of-the art planning machine.

    I had detailed plans running from A to Z, a back up plan for each of those, plus Lisa's 10-year Jumbo Junior savings at Coop bank as my hail Mary plan, just in case I was caught flat footed.

    Guess what? That's just what happened when our Education CS announced that all Grade 4, 8 and Form 4 students were to report back to school.

    I had no issue with the announcement being made. However, the 6 day head start the government gave us was what had me choking on my chapati madondo.

    Life as a single dad had had its ups and downs. Then came the pandemic that shred my blossoming taxi business down to its bare bones.

    Curfews aren't exactly taxi friendly.

    A file image of taxi drivers in Nairobi
    A file image of taxi drivers in Nairobi

    Having worked in the industry for 2 decades, my customers had organically morphed into regulars, then eventually friends.

    During this dark, and I mean dark as in pitch black like a moonless night in November, my clients/friends came through in a big way.

    Anyway, back to Magoha and my chapati madondo.

    Once I got my kenyans.co.ke pop up notification, and heard the news live on the 21-inch TV fitted in a burglar-proof cage at my favourite spot, somewhere along Ronald Ngala avenue, pandemonium ensued.

    "KCPE examinations to start on March 22, 2021 and end on March 24, 2021,"

    Education CS George Magoha addresses the media in Nairobi on Monday, September 21, 2020

    Wambua, (the best chapati madondo chef east of the Sahara), was the first one to express his sentiments.

    "Kwani hawa watoto wakirudi shule 2021 dunia itaisha? Where do they expect us to get money in 6 days to get our children back to school?" 

    Other regulars jumped in and the entire restaurant was now operating on parliament decibel levels.

    "They should just accept that 2020 is done and dusted," 

    My plate of food suddenly developed a burning-sawdust taste.

    Getting Lisa back to school and ready for her KCPE was all that mattered now.

    Having just spent a fortune on her braces and other important stuff, I knew I'd need a boost to get her back to school in just 6 days.

    Those 6 days flew by at a speed that could rival Kenya's journey to flattening the curve.

    I can't find the words to describe the excitement on Lisa's face when it was finally d-day. 

    On my part, excitement was definitely not the feeling coursing through my being. Relief is the word.

    Thanks to the hail Mary plan I mentioned earlier, a quick visit to the Coop bank and you could literally weigh the burden that dropped off my shoulder once the meeting was done.

    Clients inside a Cooperative bank branch.
    Clients inside a Cooperative bank branch.

    Akiba haiozi is quite accurate.

    Yes, I did contemplate transferring her to a public school. I mean, I went to one and I'd like to believe that the daily 'murram' meal played a key role in moulding me into a resilient entrepreneur.

    However, as any parent will tell, we'd sell both our kidneys and a chunk of our livers to ensure our kids better us.

    Anyway, for some reason, I had taken Lisa along for the Coop meeting. We like to ‘keep it 100’ in our family...as she'd say it.

    The journey of teaching your child the joy of savings and financial security is one I've been taking her through since day one. This seemed like a good opportunity for a lesson I guess.

    As it turns out, my Coop person was blown away by Lisa’s demeanour as well as her track record. During the long holiday, she had started a venture of her own which involved tutoring other students.

    By the time we got to October, she was raking in as much, if not more, than I was.

    This was what prompted the bank to handpick her as their ‘Covid hero’.

    Our trip back to school was fully sponsored. Once we got there, she directed the headteacher towards the back of the van. 1,000 facemasks and 1,000 litres of hand sanitizers.

    The school head was speechless. Private schools felt the biggest brunt of the pandemic as money was hard to come by. The Coop rep also informed the school that they’d be making a Ksh 50,000 donation as part of their 'Lisa package'.

    By the time all the congratulatory messages were done, all her schoolmates were clamouring to set up Jumbo Junior accounts of their own.

    To say I was proud of her would be an understatement. As I drove back home, tears welled up in the corner of my eyes, I wish her mum was alive to see this.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta interacting with a student of Nyiro Girls’ Secondary School from Baragoi (Samburu County) at State House, Nairobi on Friday, November 1, 2019
    President Uhuru Kenyatta interacting with a student of Nyiro Girls’ Secondary School from Baragoi (Samburu County) at State House, Nairobi on Friday, November 1, 2019