“The education scholarship allowed me to focus and excel in my studies.”  

“In life, you do not have to have everything for you to be happy. Treasuring the little things you have will give you happiness”, shares Lillian Ndanu Kyalo.

Born in 2001, Lillian is a first born in a family of two. She has a younger brother.

Lillian grew up in Mathare where both of her parents were running businesses and for the better part of her primary school education, life was good as she never lacked any of the basic needs. Lillian attended Thika Road primary school and St. Scholastica Academy along Thika road. Schooling was not too difficult for her.

In 2015, Lillian sat for her Kenya Certificate of Primary School Education (KCPE) exams and scored 423 marks out of 500 marks. This got her an invitation to join Nakuru Girls High School.

“When I was joining Form One, life took a shift and was not as delightful as it was before. My parents did not express it to me, however, I noticed that they were going through a struggle to cater for my school fees and upkeep”, shares Lillian.

Lillian did not have a good experience in her first term of secondary school as she was sent home for lack of school fees. “I was kicked out of school because of lack of fees. Imagine you are being kicked out not knowing whether you will get any money from home to come back to school with. You get home and see the state that is there and wonder whether you should really say what you are coming back home for. It was a real struggle”, remarks Lillian.

Lillian was sent home for school fees twice in her first term of secondary school but luckily got an intervention through her kind class teacher who understood her situation and asked the school management to be compassionate to her. The intervention eased her situation however, this was not a permanent solution to the school fees predicament.

As fate would have it, Lillian was introduced to Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) through a school friend who was in Form Three who referred her to another friend as a link. “I followed the advice I was given and followed through the process of applying for the Chandaria education scholarship grant. I am glad it went through. A cheque catering for my school fees would be sent directly to my school every term and it felt amazing. At least I would not have to worry so much about where I would get my fees”, says Lillian.

Lillian felt that the burden of catering for her school fees was now eased for her parents through the partial scholarship she got through the Chandaria Foundation Education Scholarship that supports vulnerable students through their Form One to Form Four education through scholarship grants.

“Through the support of the Chandaria Foundation Education Scholarship, I was able to focus more on my studies. As a form of appreciation I had to do my best in my studies”, shares Lillian. 

In the year 2019, Lillian sat for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams and scored an A-(minus) of 77 points. Since she was a child, Lillian had a passion in mathematics and in high school it became clearer to her that she wanted to pursue economics and finance at the university level.

In November of 2020, Lillian joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Economics to complete in the year 2024.

Lillian experienced a push and pull between herself and her mother on whether to commute to school or reside near the university as it was proving to be expensive. For the first semester, she had to commute which meant waking up at 4:00 am to make it on time for class at 8:00 am. With time, the commute became too much of a hustle and she eventually moved and now resides near the university. Lillian is not quite sure how her mother has been maneuvering to cater for her university school fees as with the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic, her mother’s business was affected. Lillian’s mother had to switch to being a casual laborer.

“With all the challenges we are going through and still having my younger brother in school, I give myself hope every day that it will get better. It is not about the luxury. I feel the happiness within myself, because in life you do not have to have everything for you to be happy”, shares Lillian who has hope that her mother will soon find a stable job.

Lillian aspires to start an auditing firm in future and create work opportunities for people. In addition, she aspires to have a foundation that will empower the girl child to work hard and stand on their feet.

Lillian is grateful to the Chandaria Foundation Education Scholarship programme and is looking forward to one day meet Dr. Manu Chandaria, the chair of the Chandaria Foundation. She is hopeful that she will have a chance to support the scholarship fund in future as a way of giving back.

Lillian shares a word of encouragement to all those who face financial turmoil in their education. “Be patient with how life takes you. It will teach you some little lessons that add value. Even if it seems to be dark, there is always a lesson. Despite being in the dark, you will always find light at the end of the tunnel. Do not give up on your dream but keep pushing”, encourages Lillian.