Victor Kiplangat Chepng’eno was only four years old when his mother passed on in 2005, leaving him and his 3 older siblings orphans. His father had passed on in March of 2000.
After his mother’s death, his grandmother Alice Cherono took the responsibility of bringing up her daughters’ children despite her meager resources. It was a struggle to get them through school, but the community was fully behind the family and soon enough, Victor got a full fee waiver at Tinga Springs School in the neighborhood. The school also scrapped his school fees arrears. Not surprising. Victor is a well-behaved straight A student with a sharp focus on education, and his teachers knew the circumstances back home.
Victor grew up with huge challenges like emotional distress due to the death of his parents, and a degenerative eye condition that often came in the way of his studying. But this did not faze determination to make the best of what he had and excel. He sat his KCPE in 2016 and emerged top student in Kipkelio West Constituency, Kericho County with 407 marks. This came as no surprise to the teachers and community since throughout school, he was always at the top in exams, sometimes with a margin of upto 80 marks to the student second from him.
With his good grades in KCPE, he got called to Maranda Boys High School which is known for good performance. At the same time, he was also accepted at the M-Pesa Foundation Academy and this is the choice he went for. He sat his KCSE at the academy this year and got an A Minus of 80 points. Quite the score to enable him to study medicine which he wants to pursue so he can go back and help his community.
His KCPE performance was a proud moment to his teachers, and especially for Michael Owesi who taught him science and math. He is the same teacher who had helped him fill the forms for M-Pesa Academy application and was instrumental in the school offering the fee waiver.
The M-Pesa Foundation Academy is a one-of-a-kind high school that takes in disadvantaged students from all the 47 counties in the country and sees them through the KCSE based Secondary Education at no cost. The academy leans heavily towards developing and nurturing leadership and entrepreneurial characteristics in the students, so that by the time they leave they are well rounded youngsters with more arsenal to build their lives.
For all the time that Victor has been there, he has always felt like it is a second home. Students relate well, and the academy has superior living and learning resources which make it a conducive environment for learning. There are extra curriculum activities that have opened a whole other world for Victor and fellow students. For instance, he has since become a football and rugby fan. Though he does not intend to pursue football as a career, he looks up to Herman Torres for his determination and achievements.
Victor is now 18 years old and has gone back to M-Pesa Foundation Academy, not for the KCSE curriculum anymore, but to join Uongozi Center.
Uongozi Center is a unique programme that opened its doors in January 2020 with a mission to shape independent thinkers and transformational leaders who will lead change in their communities. It is an extension of the M-Pesa Foundation Academy and is headed by Christian Gülzow, a career educator since 1993.
The center which has a curriculum of its own is meant to bridge the time between completion of high school and joining university and other tertiary institutions. The curriculum leans towards leadership, entrepreneurship, African culture and history, and African philosophy. The center also teaches regenerative agriculture for students to learn new farming technologies to go and practice back home in their communities.
Uongozi is open to all M-Pesa academy graduates and is not averse to opening its doors to external partners.
This is where my colleagues and I met Victor for a chat about his life, studies, and dreams for his future. The young man recognizes that he is a role model to younger students in his community and he promises not to let them down. He also realizes that what the M-Pesa Foundation Academy and Uongozi Center have offered him is a once in a lifetime opportunity. He has used it to the maximum and is happy with his results so far.
The village that raised him is very proud of him and wishes that all goes well, and he brings a good degree back home.