'sitting KCPE in hospital didn't stop me from scoring top marks'

Roline is visited in hospital by her teachers and fellow Bridge pupils.
Roline is visited in hospital by her teachers and fellow Bridge pupils.

When Simon Makau, the academy manager of Bridge International Academies in Makindu left Makindu sub-county hospital on the night of November 9, 2015, he felt completely crushed. “Why did this have to happen to Roline?” he said to himself, over and over.

Roline Mutheu came into Simon’s life in January 2014, when her grandmother enrolled her in class seven at Bridge. Roline’s grandmother, Naomy Muthoki Kakuu, who had been her primary carer since her mother passed away, heard about Bridge through a neighbour and saw it as an opportunity to fulfill her daughter’s dying wish of giving Roline the education that she herself never had.

Although she is unable to work due to ill health, Naomy asked her son, Roline’s Uncle, to pay for Roline’s education, including the daily boda boda fare for Roline to get from Kisongo village to Makindu.

“I like the fact that Bridge gives every child an opportunity to succeed,” says Naomy. ”It has given me such great pleasure to see Roline grow and develop at Bridge, not only intellectually but socially as well.”

This has been largely due to the strong relationship Roline has developed with her teachers, classmates, and her academy manager, Simon. “We are all amazed by Roline’s spirit,” says Simon, “she is one of those kids who just gets on with her work, and if she stumbles, she just works harder.”

In Standard eight, Roline’s academic success was rewarded with a half scholarship to Bridge. “We were so excited all through 2015,” says Naomy. “We would talk about how she would sit the KCPE and go on to secondary school and get an education that would change her life.”

Roline’s optimism and cheerful spirit made November 9 even harder. It was the day of the KCPE rehearsal, Roline was riding home by boda boda with her uncle, the father of a class two pupil at Bridge, when a speeding motorcycle hit them from behind. Her uncle was tragically killed.

Roline had a deep cut on her thigh and was taken to theatre at Makindi sub-county hospital. Although she recovered well from the surgery, the doctors were concerned about the shock of the accident and the extent of her injuries and decided to keep her in hospital for monitoring and counselling.

Simon, who went to the hospital as soon as he heard about the accident, left at midnight feeling desperate. “I remember thinking, 'This poor little girl, from such difficult circumstances, who has worked so hard to prepare for KCPE, now may not be able to sit the exam,'” he says. “I decided I had to do something.”

The next day, Simon went to the Makindu sub-county education office to see what they could do together. The staff at the office understood Simon’s great pain and wanted to do everything they could to help Roline. They suggested that if the hospital could make the necessary arrangements for safety and confidentiality, perhaps she could sit KCPE there.

“I was so impressed and encouraged by the staff at the Makindu sub-county education office,” says Simon. “They really wanted to help Roline.”

He immediately dashed to the hospital, where the doctors, nurses and administrators were equally willing to go out of their way to help Roline. They quickly created a space for her to sit the exam, which the Makindu sub-county education council approved.

“More importantly,” says Simon, “everyone helped Roline mentally to prepare herself to sit such an important exam after such a tragedy. The doctors and nurses spent time with her, staff and pupils from Bridge came to visit her and offer her support, teachers went over subjects with her, the Makindu sub-county education office encouraged her — it was such a wonderful team effort.”

But in the end it was Roline who showed the courage, determination and dedication to write the exam and perform admirably, scoring an impressive 332. She now hopes to be admitted to a good secondary school, go on to university and become a lawyer. With that sort of grit, there is no doubt she will!

Bridge is fundraising to give scholarships to support its top performing pupils through secondary school. Please see http://www.bridgeinternationalacademies.com/sponsorship/bridge-scholars-fund/ for more information.