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I always cried to get an education. Here is my story:
I am the last born in a family of three children, one boy two girls. We were born in Kawangware slums in Nairobi (where we stay up to now) to a carpenter father and my mother had a groceries kiosk.
At four years I could read my siblings storybooks and sing their school songs. I felt it was time I joined school and I told my parents. I would even put on my sister’s school uniform. My parents were reluctant especially my mother perharps she wanted me to keep her company at home been her ‘baby’ but I was adamant on my decision to go to school. I cried everyday because I did not want to be a ‘chokora’ (street child) because they never went to school.
Finally in May 1995 I joined nursery school. I was overjoyed. I worked very hard and was always at the top in my class. Come the next year I was ready to join primary school after only two terms in nursery school.
I joined Kawangware primary school, the headteacher thought I was too small but when I was given a test I proved that I had big brains and I was admitted.
Life in primary school was fair school fees was affordable because one payment catered for the three of us. I was lucky I used my siblings’ text books, we could afford a meal everyday and my mother would knit the uniform for us.
After primary school, although I performed fairly to join a government school, we could not afford and I was taken to a local privately owned school. I worked hard determined to make my life better. However, in second term the school management fell out and by third term the school was closed.
Over the December holidays I worked as a nanny and used my pay to look for another school but we could not afford. I enrolled in another local private school.
I was sent home often because of school fees, one time I stayed home too long until the director thought I was sick and sent for me.
I joined Daystar University in 2009. My first year’s school fee was paid through a loan after which I had to stay home for a semester. I volunteered at Nairobi Baptist Church children’s department…I was trained as a Sunday school teacher and my love for children grew.
I resumed school in May semester 2010 and since then I never missed a semester until I finished my studies last year December. I was always on the Defaulters list for not paying fees on time which came from individual well wishers and organizations. More often I got my exam card two days to exam or even on the exam day. .. I will graduate in June 29th 2013 with a B.A Communication.
The challenges girls in my community face include:
 Obsession with beauty, as long as you dress well and look pretty that’s all. I attribute this to lack of mentors and self confidence. They don’t know that beauty without brains is like a car without fuel. It may look good but cannot move an inch.
 Poverty leading to lack of school fees.
 Disintegrated families, making the children to keep moving to their relatives. Then when parents fight they revenge on their children the mother says “tell your father to prepare you for school” and the father says “tell your mother to pay your fees”
These barriers deny the children an education both boys and girls. The girls get married so early and become depend on their husbands who use them as they please. Most of them end in separation and the cycle is repeated.
I made it through these challenges and I have confidence in these girls. I have a working relationship with the younger ones…I make them love school, ask them how school was and we do the homework together. Sometimes I support them with stationary and school uniform.
Also, my heart goes out to the street children they are so young and in the streets rather than be in school. During my first year in college, I did a research paper on street children in Nairobi…with my first degree I am better placed to negotiate with relevant authorities for these children to be in school.
I also want to see the teenage girls resume school. A few are my friends and are in school and I think they can help me reach to their peers to be in school.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »


Binti Kamau's picture

The Truth Infection

May every girl be infected with the truth that education brings. That beauty without brains is like a car without fuel it may look good but cannot move!


No Retreat, No Surrender

bhavna's picture

No retreat! No surrender!

No retreat no surrender says it all. You had a very hard time getting what is the right of every children. Education empowers and now you being an empowered girl I am sure you will lead all the 'chokora' to school.

Best wishes for your future


Binti Kamau's picture


Hi Bhavna,

I am glad I got an education. I think the best way to use it is to help another needy child like I was helped. I feel bad when I see the 'chokoras' as young as two years. Recently, I was going home and it was raining I was running so that I don't get rained on and catch a I ran I saw them, I saw the 'chokoras' they were sheltering outside in the the verandahs...they were using rags to cover themselves. They are much younger than me...perhaps 6-12 years. I felt bad that I was running home to shelter myself while they don't have a place to call home. I want to do something about it...I know where to start and I will do something about it.

No Retreat, No Surrender

Aminah's picture

I salute you for your courage

This assignment is proving to be so emotional.
I have read so many posts already and every one of it carries tales of how women are disadvantaged when it comes to education.

My story seems so ordinary when I read yours. My story for me was agonizing. living through all of those hurdles. But your hurdles looks much worse and I comment you for going on.

Wish you all the best in your efforts,


Binti Kamau's picture

So Emotional

Hi Amina,

I hope you are well. Trust me 800 words are not enough to explain my whole journey. There were times I gave up and decided to drop out and even started to look for alternatives of what to do with myself. Other times I had to stay hungry to use the money as transport to school. There is so much that I went through now looking back I am glad I held on and now I can be able to empathize with those in a similar situation and help them in any way I can.
I am glad that you also made it through. I celebrate you!

No Retreat, No Surrender

Precious M's picture

Beauty without brains

I love the part where you show the worthlessness of beauty without brains. You are a survivor dear. Good work.

My pen speaks

Binti Kamau's picture

Beauty without Brains

Hi Precious,

I appreciate your feedback. You know as women we want to feel beautiful but there is much to life than a beautiful face and a nice figure...given the fact the our bodies keep changing we need something consistent to hold on to and the does not depreciate in value like integrity, friendships, education, honesty and such like. Thanks once again. I wish you all the best in your writing and movie making!!!

No Retreat, No Surrender

ayodele emefe's picture

Thumbs UP

Hi Binti,

Do you know how many girls that your story would inspire? millions.

When i completed my secondary school education, my father was compulsorily retired. i was determined to further my education so i started making hair for women and girls. The money i got from making hair, was what i used in sending myself to school. coming from a poor background should not be reason to rob girls from acquiring quality education. I am inspired by uneducated mothers and women who sell groundnuts, roast plantains, knit clothes and engage in trades to ensure that their children get good education.

What you do for these girls is really awesome and I appreciate your efforts. More grease to your elbow.

Well done.



"You are a champion and a hero. Do not think yourself any less"

Binti Kamau's picture


I applaud you for taking that bold step to send yourself to school...I salute you. I also respect the women who work hard to take their children to school its the best gift any parent can give their children.

Thank You and all the best in your life. And yes I will not think of myself as any less!!!



No Retreat, No Surrender

CamilaFMScialla's picture

I'm Amazed By Your Story!

I am amazed by you. Not many people would continue pursuing their dreams with one obstacle after another getting in their way. You however have and I find that inspiring. I know you'll accomplish anything you pursue and I know that if more girls heard your story, they would also be encouraged. Finances definitely play a role in the education people are able to receive and I'm so happy you were able to move beyond that and find solutions to achieve your goal. You're incredible!


Binti Kamau's picture


I am glad I persisted despite the challenges and I know something good is coming out of it. And yes, I tell my story to the girls within my reach to give them hope to continue pursuing their dreams.


No Retreat, No Surrender

Katalina's picture


Great story. Congratulations on your persistence in getting an education. Katalina

Binti Kamau's picture


Katalina; you are right nothing takes the place of persistence no matter how talented, educated or how much you have if you don't persist it will be vanity. Thank You

No Retreat, No Surrender

Theresa's picture

Beauty without Brains

Hi Binti.

Your story is very empowering, and I thank you for sharing it.

My own personal thought: I am very careful about stereotyping (beauty without brains) as I am always surprised at how wrong I can be with labeling. I have known a lot of beautiful women, not as intelligent as some with all the same struggles as those with brains, but maybe even more so. I know what you are trying to say with this quote, that some use their beauty in what are considered negative ways. It is possible that they just need to 'learn through example' another way.

I have also known many with 'brains' who are not such good people and they too, chose what I would consider a destructive and unhealthy lifestyle, that sometimes hurts others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a beautiful woman, many have found ways to use it for empowerment and for good, whether they have brains or not. In the end, I think you have the right idea, that educating women ultimately leads to a better way of making choices, as we learn that we have them. It is up to us with what we do with them, brains or no brains. So, it is important to push for education, to give women the knowledge to make their own way and you are on the right path to helping those who cannot help themselves.

Theresa VE

Binti Kamau's picture


Hi Theresa,

I like the way you put it and I absolutely agree with you beauty is important and so are brains. Its just saddening when the girls in my community put more emphasis on beauty with the idea of attracting a wealthy man...I just want to encourage them to be both beautiful and with brains and make wise decisions in their lives. I like the way you have explained it. Thank You

No Retreat, No Surrender

Aussi, quand j'ai terminée ma premiere année de licence à l'Université Officielle de Bukavu(UOB) RDC, il n'y avait pas moyen de continuer ,suite au manque d'argent. je me suis decidée de devenir enseignante du cours de français en première et en deuxième année secondaire. l'argent que j'ai obtenu à partir de cet enseignement, est ce que je faisais à moi meme reenvoyer à l'université pour terminer la deuxième année de licence, car je ne voulais pas devenir vendeuse dans ma vie. Courage Binti


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