Two refugees defied all odds to score high grades in the 2017 KCSE examination despite numerous challenges in the sprawling Dadaab refugee complex in Garissa County.
Abdiweli Jama Hussein and Abdirahman Hussein Abdi from Waberi High School in Hagadera Refugee Camp scored B+ (plus) with 67 and 73 points, respectively, emerging among the top candidates in the county.
Both students were brought to Kenya from Somalia by their aunts when they were young and are under the care of guardians.
The pair told the Nation on Friday that they do not know where their parents are, nor do they know their original home, but relatives in the camp have informed them that their parents live in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Despite lacking a connection with their biological parents, they said they are grateful to their guardians in the camp who brought them up and cared for them.
"I was brought into the camps by my aunt in 2008 but I couldn't stay with her because she was overwhelmed by her children. Since then I have been staying with another relative who gave me all necessary support I needed," said Abdiweli.
"I'm very happy to have scored such high marks despite all the difficulties and challenges that come with being in a refugee camp; with insufficient teachers and learning equipment," added Abdiweli, whose favourite subjects are mathematics and physics.
The 20-year-old boy said he would like to pursue petroleum engineering at the university.
For Abdirahman, he said he owes his success to God and everyone who assisted him, including his aunts, teachers, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and its partners.
The 19-year-old, whose favourite subject is physics, said he would like to pursue computer science in university.
He encouraged other refugees to work hard as they can still excel despite not having privileges like other students.
They both said they hope to one day go back and help rebuild Somalia.
Mr Shaffe Abdullahi Abdi, who is the school's PTA chairman, said they are proud of the two students.
"Unlike national schools that have all they require at their disposal, refugees’ schools lack many things, including teachers and learning equipment, besides the harsh environment," he said.
The PTA Chairman appealed to UNHCR and other development partners to come to sponsor refugees’ higher education.
"Most of students who performed well stay behind in the camps without any help and end up working as untrained teachers at the refugee schools. We are appealing to development partners to assist them pursue their dream careers in the universities,” he said.
Currently the four refugee camps in Dadaab – Ifo 1, Ifo 2, Hagadera and Dagahaley camps – have more than 230,000 refugees, most of whom fled the civil war in Somalia.