Rebecca is a 15 year old orphan from a family of two. Her brother is 13 years old in primary school in class 7. They live with their uncle, his wife and their two children in a single Mabatini room in the slums of Mathare Mabatini in Nairobi. Her parents died when she and her brother were toddlers, leaving them without the parental love experience. She is a jovial young beautiful girl who smiles in storms and remains positive despite the hardships.
‘After my parents died, my maternal uncle took care of us despite his meagre earnings and financial challenges. Many times, i was sent away from school, due to fee arrears, and I would miss out on my studies. I felt really sad when I would be out of school while my classmates were studying. My uncle would struggle to get school fee and make some payment but I could still be sent back home because the amount paid wasn’t enough to clear the outstanding fee balance. At one time, he sold his only pair of shoes to raise my school fees’. She narrates
-Rebecca standing outside their home in Mathare
‘This situation did not stop me from studying. Whenever I would be sent away from school, I continued with my revision at home and I still emerged the best in my class. During parent’s events in school, my uncle could not attend because he was busy working to provide for us’, she narrated with a gloomy face as she recounts her experience ‘Many times I went on an empty stomach because there wasn’t enough food and this would cause severe headaches and general body weakness. This too didn’t stop me from studying. After my primary education, I joined high school and due to the financial challenges I reported to school late in 1st term in March 2018. I was still determined and studied hard and emerged the best in my class scoring a mean grade of A plain’.
Rebecca studying from home
‘It is during this time that DREAMS Project knocked at my door and came to my rescue in the 2nd term in my first year in high school. It was a like a breath of fresh air when I was enrolled into the project. I received life skills training using an evidence based intervention known as My Health My Choice ( MHMC), I also received financial capability and entrepreneurship training. The project also supported in paying my school fees and enabled me to stay in school without worrying about school fees. Through the life skills training, I was made aware about my sexual reproductive health and rights and got empowered to say no to early sex so that I can protect myself from teenage pregnancy and other STIs including HIV.
My goal is to support my uncle so that we can get out of poverty and to become a successful person in future. I am grateful for the support I receive from the US Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) though the DREAMS Project and I am determined to do well in life to express my gratitude. I also want to be a role model to my younger brother.
When I grow up, I would like to be an accountant and campaign for abstinence and academic focus for girls my age as well. I believe with discipline and putting God first, we’ll achieve our goals,’ She concludes.