Ben is a second lastborn in a family of 7. He was born and raised in a humble background in Homa Bay County. His father is a peasant farmer, and his mother a housewife. His immediate elder brother is a fourth-year student at Maseno University and his younger sister is yet to join a tertiary institution in March next year. His other siblings are done with their studies although they have not yet secured well-paying jobs.
Being physically challenged, Ben had a hard time coping with his situation because of the stigma of being born differently. He says, “My colleagues at a young age would imitate my posture and this hurt my self-esteem. Thanks to my parents who kept on encouraging me to work hard in class as that was the only option for having high self-esteem despite the frustrations I went through.”
With time he accepted his condition and passed his primary exams topping the class. He missed out on joining a national school due to financial constraints and had to join a village school through the intervention of a local chief who pleaded with the principal to allow him to attend. A Harambee was later organized in the mid of the year to clear his fees. Although he joined late compared to the rest of his classmates, Ben kept up his fighting spirit and achieved the highest scores in his class. In December in that year, he was referred by his uncle to go for interviews at a mission school in Kisumu called Our Lady of Grace (OLG) Secondary School and luckily for him, he passed the test. He opted to transfer to this school since he was given a partial scholarship by a donor and therefore paid less money for a higher quality education.
He joined OLG but along the way, the donors withdrew their support, and the secondary school was closed. The school administration however promised to pay fees for the rest of the students affected at their institutions of choice. Through the help of the OLG principal, he secured a chance at a boy’s high school in Vihiga County and excelled emerging the fourth top performing student in their class that year. An elephant in the room was joining the University and when he opted to defer, his parents organized for Harambee to enable him to join Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) for a bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences and Technology in September 2018.
After joining MMUST, Ben joined the Masinde Muliro University Special Ability Club (MMUSAC) where he learned about the existence of the African Canadian Continuing Education Society (ACCES) and the role it plays in supporting bright and needy students. He made an application and was on the verge of deferring his studies on financial grounds when he was privileged to be among the students who were granted the partial scholarship. ACCES began paying his fees in his second year and continued to support him throughout his studies.
Ben graduated from MMUST on the 9th of December 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences and Technology courtesy of support from ACCES. He says, “My family and I are grateful for the support ACCES accorded me to realize my dream. I am looking forward to giving back to ACCES and society at large to change the lives of other deserving, bright, and needy students. I have a dream of joining postgraduate studies soonest possible to keep on raising the ACCES flag high when finance allows. Currently, I am an intern at Safaricom Public Limited Company (PLC) in the Technology Division.”
Ben hopes that his story will be an inspiration to persons with disabilities: that they can still make it in academics despite the challenges they face. He is very grateful to ACCES and the generous donors who support people like him to make their dreams a reality.