A mum’s triumphs after life’s setbacks

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021 00:00 | By
Sally Rotich and her husband Joseph Birir and their son Amon Limo. LEFT: Sally in her school uniform. She went back to school aged 43. Photo/PD/Kwach Wakhisi

While in Form One in 1990, Sally Rotich came home one closing day and found her mother missing, only to be told that she had separated from her father. “My parents separated due to domestic violence.

My father could descend on my mother and beat her mercilessly. My mother finally decided to leave for good and we were left alone,” she says. 

With her father’s eyes set on a new wife, she was forced to drop out of school and become the mother to her siblings.

“We are eight children in our family- four boys and four girls. Being the third born and the eldest girl, I took over the responsibility of taking care of my younger siblings since our dad remarried immediately and moved out to a different place. I had to drop out of school,” she recalls. 

Early marriage

Sally’s parents’ separation took a toll on her and out of frustration and confusion, she ended up getting married in 1992 at the age of 17. “My marriage life was and is still interesting.

I pledged to give my children the best despite living in a humble family. What encouraged me most was the love and care I received from my husband who made sure we never slept hungry nor feel cold nor lack anything.

The one major challenge we faced as a family is when my husband was involved in a road accident on February 2017, which left him with four broken right ribs and a collar bone.

He was admitted in hospital for 15 days and we had a huge bill to clear. With children in school, house rent, purchasing food and other essentials, it was challenging, but somehow I managed to get through it,” she says.

According to Sally, even in marriage, she still desired to go back to school. “I used to assist my children with their assignments and could still answer questions well.

I approached my husband and told him that I would like to enroll in a school and he responded positively, but only if I assured him that I was not going to drop out along the way,” she says.

In 2018 at the age of 43, Sally joined a day school where she started off in Form Two.

However, the school environment was different altogether. She opines: “My fellow students were the same age as my children and were afraid to come close to me or even talk to me.

I tried my best to associate with them and have hearty conversations with them where we could laugh and have fun. With time, they learnt to embrace me and I enjoyed my studies.

I was prepared for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams by my teachers, though it was challenging to balance books and other parental responsibilities and wifely duties.

But with the support of my husband and children, I worked hard and managed to score a mean grade of C- minus in the results that were released this year.”

A fulfilling job

Sally hopes to study up to the university level if she can manage to secure a scholarship or get financial support.

“I would like my children to witness my graduation with a degree if not with a Master’s,” she says.

When it comes to motherhood, Sally says there has not been any other fulfilling job than that. Motherhood has taught her patience.

“Children are not equal. You have to handle each one of them differently as they react differently.

Learn their different temperaments and personalities and help them grow into responsible adults.

I relate with my children so well that they are always free to correct, compliment or even crack jokes with me. In a family, love wins.

When your children love you, they respect, but not fear you as a parent and will not be afraid to open up whenever they face an issue,” Sally explains.

She is grateful for the milestones her children have achieved. Her first born is 27 years old and holds a Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics, her second born is a set of twins (boy and girl) aged 25 years old.

The girl has a Certificate in Food and Beverages while the boy hopes to pursue a Diploma in Accounts, her third born is 21 years old pursuing a degree at Maseno University, her fourth born is a 16-year-old-boy in Form Two at Mang’u High School while her last born is a 12-year-old boy in Class Six at Hillschool Eldoret.

“I love spending time chatting, watching TV, visiting or doing house chores with my children.

My greatest form of support has been my husband who gave me the golden opportunity to go back to school, my children who have always encouraged me not to give up no matter the circumstances, my brothers and sisters who would sometimes send me bus fare to go to school,” she adds.

Her word of advise to other parents is to avoid violence at all costs. “It affects the children so much even if they don’t talk about it.

Create a loving environment in your home for the sake of your children’s well-being and development,” she says.

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