Jennifer’s Story: Defying the odds to get an education
by Aisling Montgomery
The training of parents as members of school management committees has a profound impact on family, school and community. This is the story of Jenifer Taraya, a Massai woman from Kajiado County, Kenya and her daughters. Jenifer is the youngest of her husband’s five wives and has seven children, two boys and five girls. When Jenifer’s eldest daughter completed secondary school at the age of 19, she wanted to become a teacher and attained the grades necessary to transition to college.
But Jenifer’s husband refused and instead insisted that their daughter be married off immediately for a dowry. Not long after, Jenifer decided to join the school management committee at Empukani Primary School, an Aidlink supported school, where her youngest daughter was a student. As part of the school committee training Jenifer learned about the opportunities for employment that girls gain through education.
Using the knowledge and confidence gained as part of her training, Jenifer decided she would try to convince her new son-in-law to allow her eldest daughter to follow her dream of becoming a teacher. It took some time to convince him, and although he finally accepted, he was not willing to pay for the college fees nor care for their son.
Undeterred, Jenifer sought support from her local Constituency Development Fund for the college fees and decided she would take care of her grandson for the duration of her daughter’s college course. Today, Jenifer’s daughter is studying for a Bachelor of Education and is on track to become a high school teacher. She is a role model to her siblings, with her youngest sister inspired to follow in her footsteps and become a teacher too.
Thanks to her training, Jenifer has become a mentor to the school girls in Empukani Primary School and champions the cause of girls’ education in her community. ‘I am so happy for the knowledge to fight for the girls’ participation in school.’ – Jenifer