When asked who she most admires, Grade 9 student Mercy Chepkoech knew instantly—her grandmother.


Mercy is member of the Journalism Club at Kisaruni All Girls’ High School. As part of a writing assignment, Mercy penned this letter to the person she most admires—her gogo (grandmother in the local language). It is re-shared with her permission here.


Dear Gogo,

You are my biggest inspiration.

The best part about coming home for the holidays is seeing you and hearing all the stories about how you grew up. The story that makes me admire you even more is the story about how you were forced to get circumcised to get married at 11 years old. Every time you tell the story I feel like crying.

You told me that your father locked you inside the house because you had tried to run away from home several times. The next day an older woman came home and performed that rite of passage. You begged your parents not to let you go through it, but they did not listen.

Soon after you were circumcised, you were married off to a man almost twice your age.  When they told you, you cried the whole night. Then you had my mother at 16, and you swore that your daughter would not go through what you went through.

You made sure that my mother got an education. Even though you did not have enough money, you made sure that she at least got to Grade 8. My mother did not go to secondary, but both of you knew you would make sure I did.  I remember when you heard that I was admitted to Kisaruni High School, how you had danced around and gave praise.

You always ask about school when I go home, and I hope one day you can visit and see what it looks like. Until then, I will just let you know that it is an amazing place. My favourite place is the library. I enjoy my classes, especially English. I joined the journalism club, and so far it has been a great experience. I am more confident.

Thank you for pushing me to be better in school and for encouraging my mother to take me to school.


Your granddaughter,


Scholarships to Kisaruni Group of Schools enable learners like Mercy to access high quality secondary education. Read more stories about the impact these high school campuses have on girls and boys in Kenya.

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