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Anisa Breaks Chains of Refugee to Surpass Her Education Goals

Somali-born Kenyan refugee girl Anisa Abdullahi Muhumed is a beacon of hope and inspiration for many including Kakuma and Kalobeyei refugee camps children yearning for better, than life offered them by being default refugees.

“My mother used to tell me, “Anisa I depend on you. Make sure you are the one who will break the chain of poverty in our family. By Emerging the best student, I knew that I would further my education and I would be able to help her in the future and also my siblings.” Anisa Abdullahi, Best Kenyan Refugee student KCSE 2023.

Eighteen-year-old Anisa, the best Refugee female student in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) 2023 scored a remarkable B+(plus) of 70 points.

She has taken up voluntary work at her former school where she teaches English in form one class of 65 students, form two of 45 as well as assisting in administrative work and is executive secretary to the principal Ms Josephine Nguta.

“As a way to give back to society, I volunteer as a school teacher, for the love I have for my former school that nurtured me for four years,” said Anisa

While joining form one in January 2019, the firstborn in a family of three asked the principal of Lifeworks Tumaini Girls the best grade that the school had ever recorded and said she’d supersede that record.

To the amusement of many, who now refer to her as an academic prophet, she did set a new better record than her predecessors as predicted during her entry interview.

Anisa asserts that four years is enough time to prepare to be the best one can ever be in terms of secondary school education when given the opportunity.

The beneficiary of the Jesuit Refugee Council Scholarship working under the umbrella body of UNHCR, Anisa went against all odds to emerge not only at the top of her school but also the best girl in Turkana West Constituency beating over 300,000 KCSE candidates in 2023 except one.

Life as a learner in a refugee camp came with its fair share of challenges but that did not derail her ambition to overcome the barriers to make her life and that of her family and community better.

Societal Norms that prioritize boy children over girls were misleading information peddled by community members that girls don’t need education but should just prepare for marriage.

She says is seeing life through an unrealistic cultural lens but there’s a brighter side that most women from her community could be missing out on since they have never tried and she is up for the challenge to pursue education till she drops.

“Family financial constraints push you further but that has never stopped me as encouraged by her mentor never to allow environmental conditions to control you. I applaud my mother for working hard to provide for my financial obligations though limited.

Academic Stress is when sometimes you feel like giving up when a subject proves difficult especially mathematics but through teachers’ support and group work I was able to cope with the seemingly difficult subjects.

Insecurity in the camps is a major challenge as a girl commuting from home to school every day even for those in boarding school like myself it’s a challenge on the roads since there are thugs always trying to harass you,” she said.

For students, beneficiaries of any scholarship Anisa advises them to make use of the opportunity well since they are lucky to be in school with everything essential for them to learn having nothing to worry about.

“Take this as a chance, grab it, work as hard as you can. You must realize that there is someone out there who doesn’t have such a chance, work hard and do not take this for granted,” advised Anisa

Her former teacher and now the principal of Lifeworks Tumaini Girls Josephine Nguta described Anisa as a foremost disciplined girl with adorable humility, dedication, and commitment to her duties and the betterment of others selflessly.

Her parents divorced, and tribal clashes, insecurity, and fear forced Anisa and her family to flee to Kenya in 2005. She was an infant then.

“My mum has been very supportive and has tried everything she can to raise us. She is the motivating factor that has made me never give up on my education.

My achievement made me, my mum, my family, and my school fraternity so happy because that is what I have been working for, for the last four years to get something great. It is so overwhelming Almadulilah!!! Now I can pursue the dream of being a doctor,” she said.

Anisa’s answer to the question of which University she wants to join is nerve-wracking and emotive since she hasn’t gotten any yet but hopes for the best.

She appreciated the Jesuit Refugees Services and her uncle for supporting her education at secondary school and primary school education respectively.

Anisa an aspiring medical doctor is however uncertain about securing a place at a prestigious University to pursue her dream career owing to her poor background as a struggling refugee of a single mother.

Anisa’s tips to success borders on determination, self-discipline, and communication skills.

“I was so determined ever since I stepped in form one. It didn’t come naturally when I got to form four but I built it from form one by working hard ever since.

I used to be self-disciplined and kept a good rapport with teachers. I used to interact with my schoolmates and classmates.

On Communication Skills I used to engage in group work and group consultations frequently research.

I did research online by using tablets or something to learn more,” she said.

Parting shot 

“I want to encourage students that everything is possible, keep self-discipline, be determined, set your goals, and know your future ambitions.”

By Joseph Kamolo Mutua

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