Beverlyne Shivoko is 20 years old and a recent graduate of Bishop Ngjenga Girls’ School. She first heard about scholarships from a former Harambee student and at age 16 she applied for sponsorship. At the end of Primary School, going out to work as a housekeeper at 2,000 shillings per month (~$20) with room and board was not an option as Beverlyne, the first born, would have had to care for her younger siblings. Her parents brewed illicit chang’aa for a living and died of it, her Mum in 2007 and her Dad in 2008. A neighbour stepped in as caregiver when Bererlyne earned a spot at Bishop Ngjenga, having graduated Grade or Standard 8 top of her class with an average of 358 out of 600.
She describes high school as, “nice, fantastic.” Had she gone to work at 16 in someone’s home she would have had neither privacy nor freedom. Finding food for herself and her sisters and brothers was a struggle such that she likely would have begun cooking and cleaning for a woman building a home nearby, but with no remuneration, just room and board. But safety is often critical for those girls who find such positions.
“What kind of harassment Beverlyne?”
Beverlyne is waiting for her marks to be published. “If I pass well I might do computer science.” She needs good marks for a government grant.
Even if she has to take a housekeeper’s job, after these 4 years at school she says “I can now stand up for my rights.”
[With permission. Photos: Norm Filipenko]