Attending School Saved Me from Early Marriage

As a pupil in primary school, Riziki Mohamed Yusuf did her bit: she performed well, managing an impressive 377 marks out of 500. The onus then was on her parents to see her continue her quest for knowledge in secondary school. There was a problem though: her father, the breadwinner in the family, was not physically fit to fend for the family.

“My father worked in Saudi Arabia as a driver. He was involved in a bad accident and one of his legs was badly damaged it needed to be reinforced with metal. The accident left him in bad shape,” she says. 

“He could no longer work as a driver and so he lost his job and came back home.” Riziki’s mother, an Early Childhood Education (ECD) teacher, had to assume the role of the breadwinner in the family. But with a salary of Kes. 10,000 she was struggling.

Unbeknownst to Riziki, her mother had asked a friend to help with bursary for her daughter. The Kes. 10,000 a month was barely enough to take care of their household in Malindi town. Anisa and Riziki’s mother were buddies. Anisa also taught Riziki in nursery school. She knew the family and had a near firsthand experience of the troubles they were facing.

“My mother had shared with Anisa that I needed financial aid to proceed with my education. I already had an admission letter to Mwasere Girls High School in Taita Taveta,” Riziki says. At the time Anisa worked with Malindi Education Development Association Foundation (MEDA-F). She told Riziki’s mother that she would inform them as soon as something materialized.

“When I joined form one Anisa called my mother. She said that MEDA-F had received scholarship offers from Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) and that she had recommended me.” The Chandaria Foundation Education Schol- arship is a partial education grant that sup- ports secondary school education for poor and vulnerable children.

The enrolment targets students in Form one for a maximum period of four years. KCDF works with intermediary partner organizations in the grassroots to reach the scholarship’s targeted beneficiaries. Riziki was an ideal candidate: bright in class and from a poor background. The scholarship allowed her to attend Mwasere Girls where fee was Kes. 54,000 per year. The scholarship catered for half of the fees.

“My mother sought the rest of the money from bursaries such as the constituency development fund (CDF).” A few times Riziki got sent home for arrears. She is glad that she received the scholarship, “because it could have been worse,” she says. And when she says worse, she means worse! In the coastal region, girls from poor families get jettisoned off to willing suitors for marriage.

“When your parents cannot fend for you and you are a girl, it makes sense for them to marry you off,” she says. “Thank God the scholarship kept me in school.”

Riziki sat for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2018 and scored a B (plain). She has been accepted to Pwani University as a regular student to study for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Public Health.

“After I graduate, I want to help the sick. I want to impact other people’s lives just like mine was. I want to help the needy,” she quips.

Riziki completed her secondary school with fee arrears amounting to Kes. 11, 000, a reminder of the difficulty she had finding fees. An aunt cleared it for her as a way of congratulating her for the good performance.

Today, the 19-year-old has a positive outlook on life. Her future, she says, looks bright.

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