From a former house help to a rising scholar, Janeth Jepleting’s story is one of hope, hard work and grit.
This is her story…
Janeth, the firstborn of seven children, is the only one in her family with a university degree. She was born out of wedlock and lived with her maternal grandmother, who died when she was in Standard Six. She then lived with different relatives.
“After Standard Eight, they told me that was the end of the road.”
One of her relatives decided to marry her off, and a man was brought home for her.
“When I discovered that I was going to be married off, I ran away. But by then I was already pregnant.”
The pregnancy pushed her to look for a job and at 14, she began working as a house help for a family.
From her Sh1,500 salary, she saved Sh500 every month for furthering her education. After two years on the job, she felt it was time to move on.
“When I told my bosses that I was going back to school, they thought that I had found someone to pay me better. I did not argue with them, but left for home soon after to convince my mother to look after my son.”
Her mother eventually took her son in, but his paternal grandparents took him from her, hoping that Janeth would marry their son after she completed her secondary education.
Ms Jepleting, who had scored 292 marks in KCPE and had received an admission letter from Kapnyeberai Girls School, could not go there for lack of funds. So she sought admission at Kositany Girls Secondary School.
“I did not have enough money for school fees and shopping, so I went from door-to-door, asking my neighbours to contribute. That is how I got my blankets, uniform and other things I needed.
She survived from Form One to Form Four by pleading with the principal to let her attend classes even when she had not paid school fees. She would work as a house help during the holidays to raise school fees.
After KCSE, in which she scored C minus, she worked for eight months. When she was admitted for a diploma course in law at the Nairobi Institute of Business Studies, she left work, but not before her employers tried to get her a husband.
“I don’t know why they thought marriage would end my problems. I just told them politely that I would no longer work for them and headed to Nairobi with my savings to start college life.
Thanks to philanthropists, she completed her diploma course and later joined the Catholic University of Eastern Africa for a Bachelor’s degree in political science.
“I do not know where I would be without the kind people I met along the way.”
She was recently admitted to the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom to pursue a master’s degree in international security. This degree, she says, will enable her to play a role in tackling terror threats to the country.
In The End,
No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.