Finally, I’ve quenched my thirst for education

Thursday February 22 2018

Assistant chief Eunice Chege during her graduation at Mt Kenya University. PHOTO| WAIKWA MAINA

Assistant chief Eunice Chege during her graduation at Mt Kenya University. PHOTO| WAIKWA MAINA 

By WAIKWA MAINA
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Eunice Chege lost her parents in a tragic road accident in 1998. It was a few days before she sat for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary School examinations (KCSE).

She was devastated but still managed to score an impressive C plus which could have earned her a place in a college to but she had nobody to turn to for financial support and had no choice but to get married.

The 37-year-old administrator in charge of Gichungo sub-location was 19 years old when she got married to a police officer.

“We were seven children in total and our last born was in Class One when our parents died. My elder sister was also forced to get married so that we could support our siblings.”

Her elder sister Joyce took in three siblings while the newly married Eunice took in two.

Assistant chief Eunice Chege and husband Kamau Chege during her graduation at Mt Kenya University. PHOTO| WAIKWA MAINA

Assistant chief Eunice Chege and husband Kamau Chege during her graduation at Mt Kenya University. PHOTO| WAIKWA MAINA

Her husband also promised to help her further her education and she held on to this hope even as she entered into a union that did not guarantee that her dream of education would come true.

Eunice moved to her husband’s ancestral home in Gichungo into a two-roomed mud-walled house.

Her desire to further her education remained alive even as her husband changed his mind about it and urged her to take care of her family instead. She was heartbroken but did not pick a fight. She went back to toiling the family land to fill her time. It did not cause any conflict but she inwardly retained the resolve to go back to school.

FRUSTRATED
“My husband went to work in Garissa and I was left in Gichungo alone with my mother-in-law. I was frustrated because there was no one to encourage me, no one to cry to and no one to consult but I had to be strong. I always reminded myself that I must continue my education when the time is right,” says the mother of three.

Assistant chief Eunice Chege with her children during her graduation at Mt Kenya university. PHOTO| WAIKWA MAINA

Assistant chief Eunice Chege with her children during her graduation at Mt Kenya university. PHOTO| WAIKWA MAINA

In 2005, after five years of marriage, she decided to start selling second-hand clothes but this venture soon collapsed.

In retrospect, her heart was discontent and all she wanted was to go back to school so nothing came out of any other venture because her heart simply wasn’t in it.

She eventually managed to persuade her husband to support her heart’s desire.

But how did she do it?

“I made him see reason. I assured him that I could balance between school and my duties at home and also made him appreciate that I would be able to chip in financially once I secured a job.

In 2007, she joined an Early Childhood Development College, worked as a teacher after graduation in 2008 but quit due to low pay.

“I went back to farming but it was not successful because of lack of rain.”

She later got a better paying teaching job through the Nyandarua County Government but her contract was discontinued after the Kenya National Union of Teachers moved to court seeking to block the county governments from employing nursery school teachers.

Outgoing Nyandarua county commissioner installing Eunice Chege, the first graduate assistant chief in Nyandarua. PHOTO| WAIKWA MAINA

Outgoing Nyandarua county commissioner installing Eunice Chege, the first graduate assistant chief in Nyandarua. PHOTO| WAIKWA MAINA

The subsequent job offers she got also had very low pay and despite this, she decided to pursue her original dream of furthering her education.

“I got very frustrated and decided to enroll for further studies. I enrolled at Mt Kenya University for a Bachelor of Education Arts (English and Literature). I graduated in December 2017. Paying college was very difficult because my husband was also educating our children.”

She joined merry-go-round groups to supplement what she got from her husband.

In June 2017, she saw an advertisement for the position of the assistant chief and her husband encouraged her to give it a try.

“I left the interview room convinced that I had failed. The interviewing panel comprised of men who asked very hard questions, and in an interview, one tends to forget many things they knew. I would answer like three out of every five questions, other answers kept vanishing from my head.”

But she aced the interview and is now the first assistant chief in the region to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Her sights are now set on a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and who knows? Perhaps a PhD is also in the horizon.