Brave teen girl Evalyne Wairimu roam Nairobi streets begging for school fees

Evalyne Wairimu

Evalyne Wairimu outside the Nation Centre Wednesday last week.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

For Evalyne Wairimu, 15, holding a placard and begging strangers for school fees in the Nairobi Central Business District is the only way she can rejoin her classmates in school.

On Wednesday last week, she left her home in Nkuroi, Kajiado County at 5am without informing her mother.

“I have been at home for almost two weeks now and it seems that I may drop out of school because we do not have money to pay school fees,’’ Evalyne said in an interview with the Nation.

The teen is a student at Kihumbu-ini Secondary School in Murang’a County. On May 9, her mother withdrew her from school because of a Sh22,000 fee arrears.

Beatrice Wanjiku, Evalyne’s mother, had planned to transfer her daughter to a more affordable school in Rongai. She had negotiated with a teacher at Ereteti Mixed Day Secondary School to admit her daughter to the school while she paid the Sh9,440 first term fees by instalment.

However, after spending a day in Ereteti Mixed Day Secondary School, the school administration sent Evalyne home because her mother had only paid Sh1,000.

From then on, they have been going door-to-door asking for donations from friends, family and well-wishers, with little success.

“Everyone we approach says they are also unable to meet their own bills. I have been to my local chief and church but all I have got is empty promises while my daughter remains at home,’’ Ms Wanjiku told the Nation.

The single mother of two is a casual labourer who does laundry and tills land for as little as Sh200. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, life has become unbearable for her family as she has found it difficult to secure clients.

Evalyne took all the money on her, a Sh50 note, and boarded a matatu on May 18 to Nairobi’s CBD. She carried a placard on which she appealed to well-wishers to fund her education.

She arrived in the city at 6am and roamed around town while waiting for the Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA) offices to open at 8am. She had learnt from her mother that her estranged father worked at KRA and hoped that the human resource department would assist her convince him to pay her school fees.

Unfortunately, KRA officers required legal documents that proved that their employee was indeed her father – Evalyne’s birth certificate does not indicate her father’s name.

When that plan hit a snag, she took out her placard and started walking around town for almost three hours.

“I was terrified of walking around with my placard and even started crying along the way. However, I could not give up because I knew that might be the only way I could get school fees,” Evalyne says.

“Some people would be sympathetic to my cause while others would laugh. I knew I had to be courageous to gain attention,” she added.

Evalyne was walking along Kimathi Street when Nation journalists noticed her.

Fulfil her dream

She hopes to go back to Kihumbu-ini Secondary School where her classmates are almost doing their mid-term exams. In her last exam, she was position 9 out of a class of 51. She wishes to return to school to fulfil her dream of becoming a cardiologist.

Kihumbu-ini Secondary School is her school of choice because she had already fitted into the school and established a good relationship with her teachers.

Her mother says she was astounded to learn that her daughter was looking for school fees in Nairobi on her own. She wishes she had been courageous enough to also seek financial support for her education when she was younger.

“The only thing I want is to go back to school like my classmates. I hope I get well-wishers who will help me,’’ Evalyne says

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