Dressed in an oversized jumpsuit splashed with oil and carrying a heavy toolbox, Anthony Omondi Wambui doesn’t look like he is one of the 173,345 2022 KCSE exam candidates who qualified for university admission.
He looks like a school dropout struggling to learn on-the-job skills of becoming a mechanic at a workshop along Nakuru City’s Kanu Street.
However, Omondi is not your ordinary Jua Kali artisan.
He scored an impressive mean grade of A- of 75 points in the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) at Langalanga Secondary School in Nakuru County.
Unlike other candidates who are still in a celebratory mood as they wait to join university, Omondi will not let poverty end his dream of pursuing an Aeronautical Engineering course.
After writing his last paper, he started working as a casual labourer in a Jua Kali garage.
“I started working here on January 2. I want to save money for my university education,” he says as tightens a bolt in one of the engines.
Omondi, 19, was the second-best student at the school in Nakuru City which had registered 385 candidates.
“I worked hard to get an A- (minus) of 75 points. I will use every skill at my disposal to raise school fees and join the university. My mother depends on the Kazi Mtaani project which is on and off,” he told the Sunday Nation.
He added: “I know my mother is struggling to meet the basic needs but I will not let my dreams of joining university fade. I will do menial work to raise money and reduce the fees burden on her.”
Omondi says he is paid Sh500 depending on whether there are vehicles to be repaired.
“I give my mother Sh400 to buy food and I save Sh100 daily for my university education. I will do everything to ensure I join the university,” he said.
His mother Pauline Wambui, a casual labourer, fears she might not be able to raise her son’s university fees.
“I work as a casual labourer. I have no other source of income. I have three other children whom I am struggling to feed,” Ms Wambui said.
Ms Wambui said her firstborn son was worried that she would not be able to meet the cost of his university education.
“He decided to do menial jobs. He saw me struggling to pay for his lunch fees at Langalanga Secondary School and those memories are pushing him to the limit. I’m widowed and he has seen me struggle to put the food on the table,” said Ms Wambui.
“I know my son is a hardworking boy who burnt the midnight oil to get a mean Grade of A- in the 2022 KCSE exams. I don’t want him to feel that I let him down by not paying his university fees,” she said as she appealed for help from well-wishers to send her son to university.