“Challenges in life will always be there, and quitting is never an option. I have learnt that I always have to put in the work for me to succeed.”

"Challenges in life will always be there, and quitting is never an option. I have learnt that I always have to put in the work for me to succeed", shares Kayruth Momanyi. Born in 2001, Kayruth is the second born in a family of three. She has an older sister and a younger brother.

Kayruth spent her early childhood years in Chebunaywa village, Vihiga County. At the time, she grew up around her mother and paternal grandparents and knew very little about her father. She only recalls being told that her father worked in the city of Nairobi. Kayruth’s mother is a teacher by profession, and in the year 2009, had to leave for Nairobi in the quest of finding better teaching opportunities, leaving behind Kayruth and her sister in the care of their grandparents. Kayruth shares that she broke down when her mother left them, as she could not understand why she and her sister had to stay behind.

Kayruth attended Chebunaywa primary, a public school in Vihiga County. She laughably recollects how they would sometimes learn in their native luhya language for a better understanding. At her grandparents’ home, life without her mother became challenging as together with her sister, they would shoulder home responsibilities, including taking care of their little twin cousins who were left behind by their aunty. "Every time I came back home from school, I would find the responsibility of taking care of my little cousins awaiting my sister and I. I had a challenging childhood which I did not like, and whenever I remember what I went through, I would never want to go back to my childhood", remarks Kayruth. A couple of times, when life at home became too challenging, Kayruth would escape to her maternal grandmother only to come back to her paternal grandparents and face a beating from the grandfather. This went on for some time until word reached Kayruth’s mother of how her daughters were shouldering too many responsibilities. A turning point came in 2010 when Kayruth and her sister joined their parents in Nairobi to begin a new life.

Kayruth and her sister joined KBA school located in Kahawa West Nairobi, a private school where her mother got an opportunity to teach. Since Kayruth and her sister had a shaky educational foundation, they did not do well in their entry-level exams and had to repeat classes. "I would always come last in class. A simple task like putting question tags in a sentence was a challenge for me", recalls Kayruth.

Back at home, Kayruth’s bond with her father was not thriving having been strangers to each other since childhood. To make the situation worse, in 2011, life took another turn of events when Kayruth’s father passed because of liver complications. "Life was confusing after my father’s death as we did not know what to do, while on the other hand, my mother was expecting my younger brother", shares Kayruth. All the money the father had saved went into paying for his medical bills while he was alive, which forced Kayruth and her family to start over again with very little resources.

After their father’s death, it became a challenge for Kayruth’s mother to pay school fees for both herself and her sister. The mother was forced to ask for a subsidy from the school and lucky enough, she was able to find reprieve through the school’s Chairman and was only to cater for the payment of their school meals. Even with the school fee subsidy, life was still difficult for the family, who sometimes depended on one of the auntie’s to pay for their rent and cater for their upkeep. "Sometimes we would sleep hungry because there was no food. Other days, we were lucky when my mother got a chance to bring some food from school. Other times, we would go for a whole month without cooking oil and resort to boiling "sukuma wiki’ for dinner. It was a tough life, but we had to understand the situation my mother was in,"remarked Kayruth. Kayruth and her family had to move to a smaller house with limited space as they could not afford to pay rent in the bigger house they were staying in. Kayruth’s mother had to also look for additional side tutoring jobs apart from her main teaching job. "My mother never rested. She would work during the week and offer tuition to other pupils during the weekend to make ends meet. The little we had made us appreciate life. Having new clothes was a luxury and we only relied on the hand me downs we got from my mother’s friends. Sometimes I would question myself why my father had to die?" explains Kayruth.  "There were a couple of times I saw my mother break down because of the challenges we were going through. However, she would deny it as she was shielding us from seeing what she was going through. My mother has really worked hard for us", says Kayruth. Kayruth recalls how they had to stop attending church for a whole year because of lacking the transport means to get to church.

Back at KBA primary school, Kayruth kept putting in effort in her studies and after two years while she was in class six, she emerged as the best pupil in English and got a badge of excellence for it. She attests her success to a teacher who pushed her and encouraged her to meet her targets. In 2015, Kayruth sat for her Kenya Certificate of Primary School Examination (KCPE) and scored a total of 394 marks out of 500 marks. She settled for Mbooni Girls High School in Makueni County to pursue her secondary studies. "The first time I was reporting to high school, my late uncle catered for my first term fees, my mother’s friend bought me a blanket, another one gave me a suitcase and my mother struggled to buy me shoes and some little necessities", says Kayruth. She joined school but was worried about where her second term school fees would come from.

As luck would have it, during one of the school holidays, Kayruth was introduced to one of her church members who introduced her to an organization called Edumed Trust. Edumed Trust supports bright and needy families through scholarships for their secondary education in partnership with Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF). KCDF works with community organisations to give access to Chandaria Foundation Education Scholarship, a partial education grant that supports secondary school education for poor and vulnerable children. Kayruth attended an interview at Edumed Trust and that is how she ended up qualifying for the Chandaria Foundation Education Scholarship.

"Getting the scholarship was a relief, and in as much as it was partial, my mother was able to use the money that would have otherwise paid my school fees to cater for the needs of my sister and brother. My mother also encouraged me not to disappoint the people who gave of themselves to offer me the scholarship, and so I had to work really hard", shares Kayruth.

The Chandaria Foundation Scholarship, coupled with bursaries such as the constituency development fund that Kayruth’s mother received saw Kayruth complete high school with limited challenges, and in the year 2019, Kayruth scored a B (plain) in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary School Examination (KCSE). Since childhood, Kayruth had always yearned to become a pilot but was not able to go through the piloting classes that would enable her to get a private pilot license due to the high fees needed to do the course. For a start, in January 2021, Kayruth enrolled at Kabarak University to pursue a four-year course Bachelor of Science in Economics and Mathematics, which she says is a building block to achieving her dream of becoming a pilot one day. "Every challenge that God takes us through has a purpose and meaning to it, and no one should complain that they cannot make it. There are people I look at who have gone through worse situations than mine and have made it in life, and I see that I have no excuse for failing", shares Kayruth. Kayruth expressed her gratitude for the Chandaria Foundation Education Scholarship, which helped pay for her secondary school fees, and is grateful to her mother for working hard to meet her needs. "My mother is my hero and God willing, in the future, together with my sister, we would want to build a retirement home for her in Kitale as that has always been her desire", says Kayruth.