While we were at Kimuka we did meet some characters who shone through. One of those was teacher Samson, a brilliant teacher who has a real rapport with the kids, and understands the real damage that caning does to kids and their long term education.
Here’s his story, as told to Johnny, one of my fellow volunteers. We have included some pictures of Samson through his career that we managed to persuade him to let us take to the next town to scan in. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed Samson’s enthusiasm for teaching:
The Samson you have been working with – was born in a family the poor called poor. My parents were and still are peasant farmers on a one acre piece of land. I never attended pre-school because my parents could not afford the fees, though small. Intervention of a head teacher saw me get to class one, repeat in class one to catch up with those who had attended pre-school. He did this because class one was free education. Staying without lunch was a way of life and skipping supper was the only concern that signalled all was not well with us.
School was on and off until we neared secondary school. My mother suggested to sell off the only cow they milked for tea to take me to college, but I begged her not to, imagining where she was going back to. Life without breakfast, like it was during during our school life.
A desperate situation called for a desperate measures. I left my village for Nairobi, where I bought and sold second hand shoes, worked as a conductor of a public service vehicle [matatu] and later as a driver, to raise my college fees. I joined Bondo Teachers College and got a P1 Certificate that has allowed me to be a teacher today.
I am a believer of doing the best I can and I get satisfaction from it – teaching. I wish to impact pupils lives more by being a better teacher through books. This made me join the University of Nairobi in 1998.
The decision was based on my passion to being an informed and effective teacher. This was a difficult decision to make because of its cost of KSH 400,000 (£3,250), plus miscellaneous expenses e.g accomodation, travel and school books. I spoke to a blind lecturer in Bondo Teachers College who taught me in braille and trained us to teach the blind pupils. To show them how to write braille using a stylus and slate. He told me “Samson, the biggest risk is risking nothing”.
I went to the bank, got a loan and started my University education. I have continuously secured loans that I am servicing and will continue to do so for the next couple of years.
The one big challenge I now have is that I have exhausted my borrowing of loan power, due to a 2/3′s government policy on loans for its employees. I am between a rock and a hard place with two installments waiting to be cleared, for me to graduate with a Bachelor of Education Degree. This fee balance gives me sleepless nights, when I imagine what this means – discontinuing until I get the fees balance.
Johnny, I wish you well in life, I wish my learners well. May they never go through what I Samson their teacher has gone through. The good thing is when I look back and see how far I have come, I get encouraged that much more can be achieved. My pupils achievements are my driving power.
-WE ARE AND ALWAYS WILL BE, A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS-
If you want to help, or even just read more, Samson is going to be the subject of my next post too.