Diana Chepkemoi, who endured a year of mistreatment as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia before being rescued and repatriated to Kenya, has returned to Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST).
Ms Chepkemoi, who hails from Bomet County, returned to Kenya on September 6. She had deferred her studies at MUST, hoping to make money and pursue her degree in food science management and technology.
She said she was happy to return home alive: “I thank God and all those who participated in the process of bringing me back to life, at some point I felt I was gone...”
Revelations about her mistreatment at the hands of her employer sparked outrage in Kenya, before the government stepped in to repatriate her.
On Wednesday, Ms Chepkemoi was received by Vice-Chancellor Prof Romanus Odhiambo, lecturers and students.
She resumed her studies immediately under a work-study programme, with MUST offering free accommodation as other well-wishers moved by her story pledged support.
Mr Rogers Kipembe, a Meru politician seeking the county assembly Speaker’s seat, said he would pay her fees until she completes her education.
“When I read her's story, I was touched and committed to support her the moment she resumes her studies. I will pay her fees up to the level she wants to study," he said.
Ms Chepkemoi said she had no money when she left Kenya and was hoping to make it in life in the Middle East country. “I was surviving on very little … What I can say is that God always hears our prayers,” she said.
“I will now pursue a degree in education and have no words to express myself. I thank all of you for the goodwill you have shown and I will work hard to progress my career.”
Ms Chepkemoi told Nation yesterday she was picked by the varsity’s Vice Chencellor, Prof Odhiambo from her home in Chemalal-Kumulot in Bomet County on Monday.
They arrived in Meru on Tuesday and she began her enrolment at the academic institution yesterday.
The 24-year-old will now officially begin her bachelors’ degree in Education; Kiswahili and History option since the course that she had originally enrolled to, Food Science and Technology Management, is no longer offered at the university.
“I have just finished the enrolment process and I am so happy to be back to continue with my studies. I changed my course to Education because the other course is no longer offered here. I will begin my fist class tomorrow (Thursday),” she said.
Prof Odhiambo praised Ms Chepkemoi for her “bravery”, saying that despite her ordeal, she was an example to other young people who aspire to achieve their dreams.
“When one of us stumbles, we lift them up and make them strong,” he said.
“Diana is a symbol of resilience to her peers since she walked away from her motherland in search of greener pastures and a better life not only for her but also other siblings, displaying a high level of selflessness. We will be with her until she completes studies.”
Her fellow students also launched an endowment fund, to which they will contribute money for Ms Chepkemoi's upkeep. Their target was to raise at least Sh500,000 by November, said Hanington Oguk, the president of the student organisation.
“We are contributing as little as Sh20 and we appeal to other well-wishers to chip in. We also want to assist other students who are in the same situation as Diana,” Mr Oguk said.