Hariette Luseno and her daughter Joy believe in miracles.
And they are certain that the way Joy did not fall seriously ill for the whole of third term despite leaving her medicine at home was a miracle. The A- of 78 points that Joy scored in this year’s KCSE, they strongly believe, is a big miracle.
From 2016 when she was in Form Two at Kenya High School, Joy had been ill more times than they can count.
It started in January 2016 with a splitting headache, and after several visits to the hospital, she was finally diagnosed with a rare disease called vertigo — characterised by being dizzy and feeling off-balance.
The January 2016 attack was severe. “I just had headaches. Then my friends insisted I go to the sanatorium. They told me perhaps it is migraines. I waited for some time. They were to take me to hospital. But before they did, I collapsed,” she told the Nation.
Before the disease was discovered, she had been diagnosed with cerebral malaria, among other ailments.
At some point while in Form Four, her mother recalls, Joy reached a point where she wanted to drop out of school.
In Form Four third term, with a few days to the exam, they agreed that she could not carry her medicines to school.
“We just prayed and things were not so serious: just one or two days, sinuses, inflammation, but I was okay,” said Joy, who believes it was a miracle that the examination went without incident.
Joy hopes to become a computer scientist as her best performed subjects were maths, chemistry, physics and computer studies.
“I’m grateful to my family, my church and my friends in school,” she said.
In Kericho, despite their hardship and failing to secure pass marks in their KCPE exams, two students posted good results.
Master Gideon Cheruiyot who scored 209 marks in Standard Eight emerged fifth most improved candidate during this year’s KCSE examination with a B plain, while his colleague Duncan Kibet was 10th on the list after scoring an A minus, a great leap from 213 marks in KCPE.
Cheruiyot sat for his exam at Kapsoit Day Secondary in Ainamoi as while Kibet at Chepwagan Secondary in Bureti.
Kapsoit Day Secondary head teacher David Ochieng said he was not surprised by Cheruiyot’s performance, describing the boy as “disciplined, focused and taking academic issues seriously” thereby making it easy for the teachers to mould him towards his dream.
Kibet aspires to be an electrical and telecommunication engineer.
Another top candidate said he was motivated to study hard by the humble background he comes from.
Master Roy Onyando, who did his exams at Maranda High School in Siaya, said he was motivated to work hard at school to uplift his family.
He was ranked 10th countrywide after attaining A plain.
"I did all the sciences, languages, geography and business studies," said the candidate, who is part of Wings to Fly scholarship programme by Equity Bank.
Bivon Oganga, a student at Kanga Boys, was all smiles after scoring A- of 80 points at the Migori County based school
At his home in Kenyenya, he narrated how he lost his dad Lameck Onkundi in November as he prepared for the examination.
His father, who was a teacher at Kenyenya Secondary School, was travelling to Nairobi to check on his ailing brother who had been hospitalised when the vehicle he had boarded collided with a truck at Ntulele, Narok. He died.
“He was my main motivator and he always told me to work hard in school,” said the last born in a family of five.
Oganga’s mother Josephine, a clothes dealer in Kisii, said she was happy at his son’s success.
At Kisii School, Webster Jorack who got A plain, narrated the struggles of his aunt to ensure he passes exams.
His mother works as a housemaid in Nairobi and could not secure for him a national school. His aunt, 75, therefore, educated him.
For Brian Onywoka, being prayerful and working hard helped him score plain A.
Vincent Moranga, on the other hand, said his mother left him 17 years ago after his father’s family rejected her.
“For this far, it is God,” said the A student, adding that he wants to do engineering at the university.
For Charles Wanjohi, when he learnt that he had scored 314 marks in KCPE four years ago, he was devastated and thought that his dream to become a doctor had been shattered.
On Saturday, his hopes were rekindled after scoring a mean grade of A- (76 points). He was ranked number 25 in the list of most improved candidates in KCSE in relation to their KCPE performance.
“I really felt bad when I scored 314 marks because other people had passed. But I told myself that failing in my Class Eight exams would not result in bad grades in KCSE and that is why I worked very hard,” he said.
Wanjohi, who wants to pursue a degree in Medicine at Kenyatta University, yesterday celebrated with friends and relatives who flocked his home in Iriani village, Nyeri county
His principal at Giakanja Secondary Onesmus Mwangi described Wanjohi, who emerged top in the school, as a disciplined and hardworking student. His father Francis Waichoya said that he was proud of his son.
Reports by Elvis Ondieki, Anita Chepkoech, George Odiwuor, Magati Obebo and Grace Gitau