As other students across institutions of higher learning in the country solely rely on their parents for their fees and general upkeep, a Murang’a university student opted to utilize her free time in doing odd jobs to complement that support she gets from her father.
Mary Njeri Kariuki, 23, a fourth year student has since 2019 been raising money by doing various menial jobs to pay school fees and fend for herself.
She has struggled to ensure completion of her university education, unlike a myriad of other students from a similar humble backgrounds who usually opt to drop out from their studies.
Raised in a family of six, the go-getter Njeri said financial constraints in her household triggered her to start thinking outside the box in order to support her education.
“I am the third born in our family. My father works as a primary school teacher and the salary that he gets is hardly enough to sustain all of us, thus I needed to find a way to support myself while at the university,” she stated.
Njeri, who is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in criminology added that she had earlier worked as a waitress at a hotel in Murang’a and eventually as a guard in various security firms.
“I started working as a waitress at a local hotel as I entered my second year. My younger brother was joining secondary school at that time and there were financial hardships. I would attend classes during the day and work as a waitress during the night. The hotel operated on a 24-hour routine,” Njeri recalled.
She observed that exhaustion is what made her stop working at the hotel as she hardly had adequate time to rest and concentrate on her studies.
When she joined third year later in 2019, Njeri started her own beauty and cosmetics business that progressed well for one year before it collapsed with the onset of covid-19 early last year, which affected many enterprises in the country. Njeri was then employed at a security firm where she worked as a guard in different premises.
“I started working as a security guard after my cosmetics business failed due to the pandemic that led to prolonged closure of learning institutions countrywide. My fellow university comrades were my major customers before then and with their unexpected departure my business went down,” she recounted.
To date, Njeri is still employed as a security guard, where she works at night, while attending classes during the day.
Her current assignment at the Murang’a Level 5 hospital majorly entails recording entry and exit of vehicles, offering general security and ensuring that Covid–19 protocols are adhered to within the facility.
However, it’s not all rosy for Njeri as her work also comes with numerous challenges including cold weather conditions, encounter with some rude clients and the general fatigue as she struggles to catch up with her studies.
“Majority of our people are not used to seeing women offering security services in the male dominated field. When some men see me doing ‘their’ work, they misjudge me a lot,” she revealed.
But the undeterred university final year student remains fulfilled as the salary she gets has continually enabled her to pay for her tuition fees and cater for other needs.
“I am even able to save some money for myself and occasionally assist my family members. I don’t want to depend on anyone for my needs and the fact that we are quite many in our family, I also want to support my father in educating my siblings,” added Njeri in her parting shot.
By Bernard Munyao and Lucy Njoroge