Meet Zahara, top 2020 Macheo scholar

|By Joan Mathenge|

Zahara Omar from Kibera Girls Soccer Academy was top both in her class at Kibera Girls Soccer Academy as well as the KCSE 2020 Macheo class. Though her target had been to achieve a B+, Zahara is still grateful for the B mean grade that she attained. She attributes the success to the sacrifices she made, hard work, teachers and above all, the Macheo Program. Through Macheo, she was able to gain new concepts of learning and nurture her character.

She describes herself as religious and principled, not the type to follow the crowd but rather one who stands by her own values. Born and raised in Darajani, Kibera, she studied at Toi Primary School and later joined the Soccer Academy, a day school, for her secondary studies. This  transition was met by a potpourri of feelings as she had desired to join a boarding school. However, with time, she was able to adjust to reality and integrate into the day school culture.

Just like every path in life, there are ups and downs. In Form 3, she struggled with poor grades that challenged her to give her best shot that eventually helped her regain her top spot in class. ‘‘The KCSE registration process was a tough period for me. I was out of class frequently due to visits to the Huduma Centre to get the required documents to enroll for the exams,’’ she says.

Zahara actively engaged in netball and was a member of the Journalism club at her school but these activities demanded a lot of her time, a reality that had her studying on the weekends to compensate for ‘lost’ time within the week. Keeping up with morning study habits was tough, especially in trying to conquer sleep but she kept reminding herself that it was a little sacrifice that would pay off in the near future.

When asked about her experience with preparing for her exams amidst the pandemic, Zahara had the following to say: ‘‘When COVID-19 hit, it presented new challenges. With the closure of schools, I had to fully depend on myself since teachers were not at our disposal. At the onset of the pandemic, study groups were formed but after a month they waned. To find a sustainable solution, I got a study partner who I worked with in building each other up in our areas of strengths and weaknesses. I for sure wanted to reap what I had sowed and the drive to give back to my community in the future kept me going. Staying positive, focused, putting more effort and above all keeping God first is my mantra and advice to everyone out there.’’

Being in the Macheo program contributed to perfecting her writing skills by engaging in essay competitions. Her skills shone through the two essay competitions organized by the Community Service Centre. “I didn’t perform well in the first essay competition despite the fact that I had been hopeful of emerging at the top. This however did not shatter my hopes as I went ahead to take part in the second essay competition where we were tasked with writing futuristic letters to our children, highlighting lessons learnt from the pandemic. With the resumption of school, this writing experience was more challenging as I now had limited time and a looming deadline to submit the essay. Despite the hiccups, I came in as the second runners up, a great improvement from results of the first competition.’’

Currently taking computer classes, Zahara is looking forward to pursuing education in a public university, to fulfill her desire to become a teacher. ‘‘Being a teacher is my calling and passion and the mother of all professions. This drives me to be one, that I may make a difference in students’ lives and leave a strong legacy behind. My greatest advice to girls out there is to be focused in what they want and put in the effort needed to become what they aspire to.’’

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