From the slums of Mukuru to studying Geospatial Information Science at Masinde Muliro University

In the heart of Nairobi and Bungoma Counties, two young souls embarked on journeys of determination, resilience and bravery. Mercyline Mokeira and John Wekesa faced tribulations that would have broken many, yet they remained steadfast in their pursuit of education, their beacon of hope amidst the darkness of poverty.

Mercyline Mokeira, the firstborn in a family of five, was born on 29 December 2002, in Nairobi County. Growing up in an area plagued by a high rate of insecurity, she faced numerous challenges on her path to education. 

In a community where safety was a constant concern, Mercyline found herself braving the early morning hours to make her way to school. The streets may have been shrouded in darkness, but her inner light burned brightly, pushing her forward with the belief that education was her ticket to a brighter future.

As dawn broke, Mercyline would say a silent prayer to a higher power, asking for protection during her journey to school. The shadows of insecurity lingered, but her determination overpowered her fears. 

Every morning before I went to school, I would say a prayer to God to keep me safe. The place we lived had a lot of insecurities, but I was willing to take the risk just to get an education. It was difficult, but He kept me safe, she would later recall.

Financial difficulties only added to Mercyline’s challenges. With her mother unemployed and her father working as a casual laborer, there was no stable source of income to rely on. Paying for her primary school fees became a constant struggle, leading to occasional missed school days. However, she managed to get a sponsorship through the support of the school she attended at the time, Bridge Kwa Reuben. 

In 2016, Mercyline sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Bridge Kwa Reuben, achieving an impressive score of 394 marks. Her academic excellence earned her a place at Sironga High School, where she continued her educational journey.

The year 2021 marked another significant milestone for Mercyline as she sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and obtained a remarkable mean grade of B+ (plus). With her sights set on a future that would enable her to contribute meaningfully to her community, she made the inspiring decision to study Geospatial Information Science at Masinde Muliro University in Kakamega County.

At the university, Mercyline’s horizons expanded. Interacting with people from diverse backgrounds broadened her perspective, reminding her that there was a world beyond her small community.

My inspiration to pursue Geospatial Information Science comes from my desire to create positive change and make a difference in my community. By studying this field, I hope to harness the power of geospatial information to address challenges in my community, including security issues and resource allocation, she says. 

Meanwhile, in the heart of Bungoma County, John Wekesa was born in 2003 as the last born in a family of five. His father, working as a Boda Boda rider and mother a farmer, faced an uphill task to provide for their children. Despite the scarcity of opportunities, John held onto the belief that education was his ladder to a better life, not just for himself but for his family as well.

With the conviction that his pursuit of learning could rewrite the story of not only his own life but also that of his family, with every step he took John carried the weight of responsibility on his shoulders. He felt a profound need to rise above circumstances and lift his family out of the cycle of financial struggle. It was a burden he shouldered willingly, knowing that his sacrifices would forge a path for his loved ones to follow.

In 2016, John sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Bridge Kanduyi in Bungoma County. Despite all the setbacks he faced he achieved an impressive score of 390 marks. Yet, the road to higher education was paved with obstacles that seemed insurmountable. Financial constraints were like shackles threatening to bind his dreams.

But John’s spirit remained unbroken. He managed to join Butula Boys High School in 2017. 

When I completed my KCPE exams I wasn’t sure how my parents would manage to pay for my school fees but with the little they made and me having to work on the farm during the holidays we managed. John’s voice trembled with the resonance of a journey that transcended the limits of circumstance.

In 2020 John sat for the KCSE exams and scored an impressive B+, a melody of triumph amidst adversity. It was a testament to his unyielding dedication and hard work. And as the tides of time pushed him forward, he found himself at the threshold of a new chapter.

In September 2021, John embarked on a path that resonated deeply within his heart. He chose to study Education Science at Egerton University in Nakuru – a decision that encapsulated his journey and the very essence of his being. It was not just a career choice; it was a tribute to the struggles he had overcome, a beacon of light to guide others through their own challenges.

John’s inspiration to pursue Education Science emerged from a place of empathy and understanding. He had experienced firsthand the transformative power of education in his own life, and he recognized the potential to ignite that spark in others. He wanted to be a source of guidance, a nurturing force that would help others overcome their obstacles and discover the magic of learning.

Though the challenges continue, John has embraced his time at the university. He still works on the farm to support his family and cover his fees, but he is fueled by a sense of purpose. 

I enjoy being at the university. I feel like my dreams are within reach, being the first in my family to pursue a university degree, I know I am carving a path for others to follow.  He shares with enthusiasm.