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September 26, 2017

'Fare thee well our little angels': Moi Girls' holds requiem for fire victims

Moi Girls' School students at the memorial service for their nine schoolmates who died after a dormitory fire, September 14, 2017. /PATRICK VIDIJA
Moi Girls' School students at the memorial service for their nine schoolmates who died after a dormitory fire, September 14, 2017. /PATRICK VIDIJA

"God's plans are not our plans."

This is what the principal of Moi Girls School told relatives and friends of the nine students who died after a fire at their requiem on Thursday.

Eight students died in the dormitory arson on September 2 while another succumbed to her injuries later.

Read: Moi Girls' fire was arson, Matiang'i says, death toll rises to nine

Chief principal Jael Murithi told mourners they were woken by the students' cries and that they tried their best to rescue them.

Moi Girls' School students at the memorial service for their nine schoolmates who died after a dormitory fire, September 14, 2017. /PATRICK VIDIJA​

/PATRICK VIDIJA

Muriithi said they "braved the darkest hour of the night...did not hide our nakedness...and moved with speed to attend to the cries of our little angels"

She said some staff members did not care about their attire amid efforts to save the students.

The principal said they were not aware some had been trapped inside by the time the fire was put out.

“We were shocked when we learnt we had lost eight girls in the fire and that one succumbed to her injuries while undergoing treatment,” she told the service at the school.

Mureithi said it was unfortunate that the lives of the little angels were cut short.

"Their dreams have been shuttered and their bright future cut away. No words can take away the agony and pain we have to endure," she said.

Mureithi said many students are no longer certain about being at the institution.

She added: “As a school we believe God has not abandoned the bereaved families. He will walk you through. We loved these little girls but all we can say is 'fare thee well' and all shall be well wherever you go."

/PATRICK VIDIJA

/PATRICK VIDIJA

SAFETY GUIDELINES NEEDED

Board of management members said that when they were alerted, they made frantic calls for help from stakeholders.

They reported that 40 per cent of the facility was destroyed and that they had made arrangements for Lavington Security Group to increase patrols around the school after the election.

Area MP Kenneth Okoth said there is great need for the education sector to seriously consider implementing safety guidelines for schools.

Okoth noted this will go a long way in preventing such incidents.

“We have to review the need to conduct safety and fire drills in all our schools. This should be followed by an annual safety and preparedness report."

He said they will work with the county to restore students' hope and confidence.

Parents at the memorial service for the nine Moi Girls' School students who died after a dormitory fire, September 14, 2017. /PATRICK VIDIJA

/PATRICK VIDIJA

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said the government will pay hospital and mortuary bills, costs of DNA tests and funeral expenses.

"Two more students are admitted," he said. "We assure parents everything will be sorted out."

Kipsang said the national government will give each family Sh100,000 for burial expenses and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko will provide vehicles to transport the bodies.

He said the Education ministry will implement rules including the age at which children should be admitted to boarding school.

Sonko said that from now on, the county will ensure all schools adhere to safety rules.

He noted the construction of another dormitory at Moi Girls' has begun and that the county will donate Sh5 million so it is completed.

“I will give an additional Sh2 million as a personal contribution. The president has also pledged an extra Sh5 million."

Deputy President William Ruto, through his wife Rachel, pledged another Sh5 million.

The Governor said that because of this incident, Nairobi has purchased five new fire engines and will set up tw fire stations to quicken response to emergencies.

Telecommunication firm Airtel gave Sh1 million while Safaricom promised to pay for bedding once the dormitory is completed.

Read: Probe school fires quickly and find causes - principals

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