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village life

My first encounter with village life was in 1983 when I and my siblings moved to the village with our mother as our grandmother lived there alone.
My father continued to live in the city, intending to save enough money to pay the school fees for the older siblings who were already in secondary school.
Reality caught up with me, however, when the whole family lived in a small thatched hut with mud-covered walls, with no partitions. That means all sleeping in the same room on a traditional mat called chaya and msala. There was no money for a mattress, so there was no point in being sad about it.

primary school

I attended the local primary school and on the first day of school, a Monday, I met my friend, Jeremiah.
Instruction was given in English and in the local dialect (Pokomo). It didn't take long for me to get used to going to school without shoes and without breakfast. What was difficult for me was that there was no real infrastructure. There were no desks or chairs. My friend helped me build a traditional lectern out of palm trees (known as Mkindu and Mpongoo).

That wasn't bad since the lower classes all had to sit on the floor.
Most of the time there was no lunch, except from a government project, so there was milk in between.
During the week we were always sent to collect grass, with which the roof was re-covered or supports were built for a new classroom. The school has always been in a state of disrepair with mud on the walls and thatched roofs. There were no doors either.
At the weekend we supported my mother and grandmother in the field.

I quickly adjusted to life in the country and despite the simple life I had fun.
Speaking English was not easy as most of the students only spoke the local dialect. The school administration distributed a diskette entitled "I'm a sucker if I don't speak English" to anyone who spoke dialect instead of English.
In 1984 there was a nationwide famine and there was virtually no food, not even in stores. For three months, my siblings and I only had one meal in 24 hours. But we were still happy because my father could send us money to buy food. There were families who had no food for several days.

secondary school

In 1987, I completed my final exams in elementary school and passed the high school entrance exam. However, this school was not registered as an examination center and so we had to walk 30 kilometers to the next examination center in Sera. We had to take enough food supplies with us, which had to last for five days of the exam.

After that, I went to Wenje Secondary School, a local community school that was 9 kilometers from the main road and not accessible by bus when it rained. During the rainy season in April we had to walk to the street to take the bus home. At that time I was about 14 years old.
We had no electricity at the school and the nearest place where there was was 160 kilometers away in Malindi. We used lanterns. At a later date the school was equipped with solar panels and so we also had electricity. At that school I met a nurse who couldn't believe I had made it this far. The nurse knew the school as she previously worked in Hola (capital of the province).

There were no water pipes, so in the evening we went swimming in the river (Tana River) - which is full of crocodiles - and filled up our drinking vessels for the next day. The school management built a cage for us to bathe in so that we would not be attacked by the crocodiles. When I think about it now, it scares me how we managed to do it all.


Despite all these difficulties, I passed the exams and was offered a place at the university in Nairobi, where I did a BSc in teaching. But since I didn't want to work as a teacher, I did the diploma for clinical medicine, which I passed a year later.
Today I hold the titles of BSc in Clinical Medicine and a Master's. Thank God!!!!!!


Leonards Testimonial

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