Leamalio Ljiliwan  John




John is the third born in a family of four children, and follows his older brother off to high school. His elder brother was able to finish high school and has gone on to become an early childhood teacher. Quite an accomplishment for their family! His only sister is married and lives the traditional Samburu lifestyle, having never been to school. Neither of John’s parents attended school and live the traditional way of life—depending on livestock for their livelihood. During school holidays—like those taking place right now— John helps his parents in looking after their few animals and fetching firewood or water.

John’s family live in Sere-olipi village, just off the main (and only paved) road running into Northern Kenya. At six years old, John started his education at a Thorn Tree preschool and a year later, joined Sere-olipi Primary School. John’s mother says that she first took John to school so that he could help her and the family later. To her, education is the only way to help her family from poverty. In fact, John’s mum admits to feeling ashamed that she cannot communicate in English nor Swahili. She did not want the same for John. More so than almost any other mother I know, John’s mum admires the educated children she knows in the village and sees how they are able to help provide for their families. John knows how fortunate he was to be able to start school as a boy and is eager to make his family proud and to contribute after high school.

While in primary school, John’s favorite subject was Social Studies. He says he likes it because he is able to learn about different parts of the world and in studying Social Studies he has come to know more about the world as a whole. In fact, he has his heart set on becoming a teacher. He was also a distinguished member of the Health Club at Sere-olipi Primary— where students worked to maintain personal cleanliness and teach the other students how to keep themselves, their dormitories and school community clean. In class six, John was also the school time keeper, selected because of his own personal time management and organization.


Leamalio Ljiliwan John Leamalio Ljiliwan John
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