Although it’s still dark, early-morning crowds rushing to work fill the Juja Road—a major road that leads from many low-income communities east of Nairobi. Many children hurry off to school, backpacks on their backs, creating a sea of brightly colored school uniforms depicting the diversity of the schools they attend.
Dorah was one of those backpack-laden kids traveling along Juja Road to her school, the MCO School in the Mathare Valley slum. Now, 20-year-old Dorah Nyakiru is an outspoken yet pleasant girl pursuing her diploma in medical engineering at Kenya Medical Training College in Kisii.
Dorah grew up in Dandora, an informal, slum settlement near Nairobi. As the city’s largest dump, people discard piles of garbage on the sidewalks of Dandora, causing a pungent smell to fill the settlement.
Dorah’s mom worked as a teacher for one of the MCO schools throughout all of Dorah’s childhood. Her father, a mason, could not find consistent work, which made life very difficult financially.
Dandora slum was a chaotic, dangerous place to grow up. Dorah survived by spending most of her time at school. Once while at home, 12-year-old Dorah escaped a horrifying occurrence.
Dorah recalled: “One day while at home, a man attempted to rape me. I was very lucky to escape unharmed.”
Dorah explained that the streets of Dandora thronged with violence, crime, drugs, and immorality. But this reality also filled the streets of the Mathare slum, where her school was located.
Dorah shared: “Some of my classmates engaged in violence, crime, and immorality.”
From around age ten, Dorah had to leave home as early as 6am, while it was still dark, to make it to school on time. Normally, she would take a matatu (public 14-28 sitter vans, that are infamous for playing loud music and breaking traffic rules) to school. In other instances, however, when her family had no money, Dorah had to walk almost 4 miles to school.
Dorah remembered: “Growing up my mom took us to church where we learned the word of God. During my free time, I would be in church engaging in activities such as singing or cleaning. This helped me to stay away from negative influences.”
Over the years, God has grown in Dorah a passion for medical engineering. This passion began in 2018 when her grandfather developed kidney disease. He had to go through dialysis regularly but the dialysis machines at the hospital would be perpetually out of service. Dorah’s grandpa struggled to get the medical care he really needed.
Dorah explained: “Because of this, I found that I was constantly preoccupied with thoughts of being able to install, maintain, and repair medical machines.”
When Dorah completed high school, she dreamed of going to college. But she knew it would be a long shot! She even thought of giving up her college dream so her younger brother could continue with his education.
Dorah shared: “My father had just resigned his job to take care of his ailing father, while my mom’s income was barely enough to support the family. I felt hopeless but I kept praying that the Lord would turn things around for me and enable me to get to college.”
Soon, Dorah learned about Bright Hope’s scholarship that supports high school graduates who want to attend college. Dorah filled out the application and attended an interview.
Dorah celebrated: “When news came that I had been accepted and offered a scholarship, I was elated! I felt very humbled! It’s very hard to get a scholarship. I was very happy my dream had finally come true!”
Dorah hopes to volunteer at a hospital as well as at her former school to give back to the communities she loves. She would also like to donate and support needy children in the future when she gets a job.
Dorah reflected: “I used to feel hopeless. I had embraced the reality that I had to cut short my dreams and work to support my younger brother so he could complete high school. Then everything changed when I got the scholarship. I felt a little heaven down here!”
In closing, Dorah shared: “I am very grateful and humbled to have gotten the Bright Hope scholarship. I would like to thank the sponsors who give their money. I would like to thank everyone who makes this sponsorship possible. You have touched my heart! You are doing a great work by causing dreams to come true! There are many young people whose dreams are shattered when they cannot go to college. But Bright Hope supporters have given many of us a chance. May the Lord bless and increase them!”
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