Emma is a 17 year old student from Machakos who was recently enrolled in Jitegemee’s 9th vocational training program. Our staff sat down with her at our school to talk a bit about her experience at Jitegemee.
How did you come to find Jitegemee?
I come from a rural town outside of Machakos in the hills. I dropped out of school after Form 3 (11th grade equivalent) because my family no longer had the money for school fees for me and my three siblings. While I was in school, I received the highest grades in English and Kiswahili so I was very disappointed that I could no longer attend.
Around this time, my mother and father separated. After my father left, my grandmother was left to care for my younger siblings in the village and my mother and I moved to Machakos town. My mother was an alcoholic and could not care for me properly once we arrived in Machakos. I began to sleep in the streets and walk around to find money or see if I could clean clothes for anyone. I would pickpocket from drunk people, and started taking drugs and alcohol in order to forget about my situation.
One day, a friend of mine from the streets told me about Jitegemee. I was scared to come but walked to the school with her and talked with the teachers about my situation. I was accepted into the vocational class 9 and was reunited with my family with the help of the teachers.
What do you hope for your future?
I would like to own a hairdressing business in order to provide for my family. My mother suffers from typhoid and cannot work. I wake early in the morning to clean clothes for money and continue my job after I return home from Jitegemee in the afternoon. I have managed to pay the school fees for my younger brother to attend primary school. At night, he teaches me what he has learned. I hope to go back to school one day in order to get my degree.
Coming to Jitegmee has completely changed my life. I have stopped using drugs, and have learned how to better express myself, and how to interact with others. For years, I thought that I would live on the streets forever. Now I have hope that I can achieve my dreams.