Kevin Ochieng Obede: The moving story of the boy genius who ended up on the streets
By Purity Mwambia
The heartrending story of a how young man’s years of hard work, after achieving excellent academic grades at some of the country’s best schools, are all in vain has sparked a conversation.
Kevin Ochieng Obede scored straight A’s at Maranda High School before proceeding to the University of Nairobi where he did Actuarial Science and graduated with First Class honors.
But, as Citizen TV found out, this was not enough for Kevin who ended up homeless in the streets of Nairobi for slightly over a year.
He is presently being hosted by his friend – Christopher Oloo, who rescued him from the streets – inside a tiny house in Kosovo, Mathare.
Despite heavy stench of raw sewage and the dangers that come with it, the 24-year-old is lucky to call the slums home.
Kevin’s story is that of a student who worked hard right from primary through secondary school all the way up to college; a closer look at his certificates tells it all.
He was in the Maranda class of 2011 that topped the country in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE); and all through he saw a bright future that would help him rescue his grandmother and sister from poverty, but life turned upside down.
“I scored 392 marks out 500 in primary school; then I joined Maranda High School and scored an A. I went to University of Nairobi where I successfully got a First Class,” he said.
“I’ve applied to Cytonn for their graduate training program; I’ve applied to Central Bank; I’ve applied to Deloitte as well as PwC. The problem comes when I feel I’m qualified but I don’t successfully get the job.”
He added: “So I became frustrated and that’s how I ended up on the streets. Life was not easy, the city council askaris would come and beat you up…or other street children would chase you if you occupy their space.”
Kevin now fears going back to his rural home in Nyakach village where he grew up to face his grandmother who “saw me as the ticket out of poverty.”
He was not even able to attend his own graduation ceremony because he could not afford the Ksh.4000 fee required.
His entire school fee was paid for by a Higher Educations Loans Board (HELB), a Chinese education loan as well as the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) kitty.
“I can’t get round to how I feel about the fact that Obede, index number one in my year at Maranda and who went on to become one of the best Actuarial students at UoN, is in the streets. It’s something else,” said Austin Omondi, one of his former classmates.
Kevin now works alongside parking gangs in the Nairobi CBD washing cars for Ksh.50-100 to earn a living.
He stores his certificates in a cybercafé, hoping one day he will get a job and have a decent life.
His story reveals the ticking time bomb of the unemployed youth who worked hard, scored A’s and their certificates have turned into just a piece of paper.
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