Adipo Lodeng’o and his younger cousin Tiliot Lonrokemer lost their dreams of ever going to school from a tender age. On the eve of ActionAid’s 40 years celebrations in Tangulbei, a thought crossed the mind of thirteen year old Adipo as he went on with his daily routine of herding camels. He convinced his cousin Tiliot that they go to Churo Boarding Primary School a rescue center.
By Catherine Wanjiru
As I talk to the young boys, other pupils huddle around us in a tiny classroom where I decide to partake the interview, thanks to them, my interview runs smoothly as they help me with translations. The young boys can only communicate in pokot language. The boys narrate their journey from Amaya hills where they herded camels to Churo Boarding Primary School.
Still dressed in his “shuka” pokot traditional attire, a frail Adipo begins by telling me that his decision to go to school was prompted by a day his father really beat him and his cousin after they went playing and took the camels home very late.
"My father is very harsh, he does not even want me to go playing with boys my age. I wake up and the first thing I have to do is go herding,"says Adipo
I got tired of my lifestyle, and as I was in the fields I remembered that my brother had talked to me about a school that takes in children. I made the decision.We walked for hours but finally we got there.
Adds Adipo as he holds tight to his grazing rod.
Rescue Center, Girls Dormitory
To an outsider Churo Boarding Primary School may appear like a simple learning institution but for many, the school is a rescue center for children who cannot be home due to many reasons. The children who have so far been rescued have benefited from The School Feeding Program that ActionAid facilitates.
I am happy for what ActionAid is doing, we have become a better rescue center with time because of their help. It is through the school feeding program that they facilitate, we get food to give the children
says Mrs Audrey Ong’ae a teacher at Churo Boarding Primary School.
According to Mrs. Audrey children just walk into the school, mainly young girls.They take them through an interrogative session to find out what the reasons of running away from home are, they then give them change of clothing and food. Finally they are sent to class one where they are likely to adopt easily.
Seeing a dormitory brought back all the memories of the days I was in a boarding school I must confess not all were good memories, staying without seeing your parents on a daily basis. But for the girls of Churo a dormitory is their second home, that is the place they get a living. Mrs Audrey notes that many rescued girls run away from their homes mostly due early marriages and Female Genital Mutilation.
The dormitory that is to grant shelter to over 80 girls, is a vital donation to Tangulbei society as many girls can now learn in a more conducive environment. For Chepkat Korete, a 12 year old girl in class three her home in Marani village is five kilometers walk to school. A dormitory for her, is manna from heaven, she will not walk long distances again.
“My dad passed on a while back and my mother is now a drunkard, she uses all the money to drink to a point she forgets to buy me and my eight siblings food. One day I just decided to walk to a place where I could get peace of mind, in school. I am now happy and I love all the subjects. I am sure by now I would be married off,” says Chepkat.
I left Tangulbei very proud to know that young children have taken the big step of to running to school.