Two siblings who were nearly married off due to lack of money for secondary education, were all smiles on Friday.
Kaya Tiwi Mixed Secondary School has admitted Maimuna Kwekwe and Idaya Chizi for free.
Kwekwe is aged 17, while Chizi is 15. Their father, Munga Tsuma was about to marry them off.
Tsuma was overwhelmed with joy and even shed tears when he learnt that his daughters would continue with their education.
“My girls would have been married by now. I regret that I had such thoughts,” he said.
The girls’ tattered clothes gave way to neat school uniforms.
Kaya Tiwi principal Robert Aran and the school’s board of management chairman George Mokaya footed the bill and also paid for the shopping.
“I know my daughters are bright and will get better education here to change our fortunes,” Tsuma said.
Aran said the school had no option but to intervene.
The family is not well-off and is looked down upon by neighbours in Rabai, Kilifi.
Tsuma is a casual labourer and his income is erratic. He makes a maximum of Sh300 a day with which he supports a family of seven.
The girls’ dreams had been shattered after it emerged they will not proceed to Kaya Tiwi where they had been admitted.
Kwekwe scored 351 marks out of 500 in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education. Chizi had 349 marks.
Both went to school at Benyoka primary school in Rabai.
Kwekwe was at some point forced to repeat a class to delay her enrolment due to lack of fees.
Tsuma could not secure bursary from area MP and ward representative offices. He was told money will only be available next term. The list of beneficiaries for bursaries was too long and they could not be slotted in, the disappointed man was told.
“We will provide opportunities for students to become socially responsible despite a challenging learning environment,” Aran said.
The headteacher also urged well-wishers to help.
Mokaya said the school board will ensure the girls are comfortable and lack nothing.
“We want them to concentrate on their studies. They should be protected from early marriage,” Mokaya said.
And the students promised to perform. “We shall give our best to emerge victorious after four years in the school,” Chizi said.
Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rachel Shebesh last September warned men at the Coast against marrying off girls saying they will be jailed.
Shebesh said men at the Coast are notorius for marrying off young girls, but cautioned that she will deal with them.
Parents say they marry off their daughters because of poverty.