Rehema’s Story

Rehema Ngumbao was born in 1993. She is now part way through a 5 year Law Degree at the University of Nairobi, Mombasa Campus, the best university in East Africa. This is a dream come true for Rehema after a lifetime of hardship and sorrow.

Rehema is the eldest and only girl of 4 children. Since she was first born her parents had no permanent jobs but tried to provide their family with the basic needs of food, shelter and clothes.

Rehema with her Mum and Brothers

Schools in Mombasa were too expensive for Rehema’s parents to afford the fees so at the age of 5 years Rehema and her younger brother Kelvin were sent to live with their Grandparents up country where fees were much less. The Nursery School was far away and Rehema had to walk there each day barefoot and often without food.

Rehema’s Uncle lived close-by and he was very cruel to his young niece. She was expected to search for firewood and fetch water from the dam, both of which were some miles away. Failure to complete these duties would mean a severe beating for Rehema and sometimes she would be denied food!

When she moved into Standard 1 Rehema soon became top of her class but unfortunately some of the older and bigger children became jealous of her success and the bullying started. On her Mum’s next visit she realised how unhappy Rehema was and sent her to stay with an Aunt. Here she was able to complete Standards 2 and 3, and part of Standard 4.

When Rehema was 9 years old sadly, her father died and Rehema went back home to try to help the family. Her Mum earned a few shillings by getting small jobs as a housemaid or by making and selling a local brew. She was anxious for Rehema to go back to school but with little hope of paying fees. It was then that Rehema was accepted into Standard 4 at Mikoroshoni Primary School. At this time the

Government Schools still charged fees but Mikoroshoni provided a free Primary Education for local children in Shanzu.

Rehema at Court placement in June 2016

Rehema worked really hard during her time at Mikoroshoni and when she took her final KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) exam, she was top of the class. Rehema’s high achievement encouraged a couple from Jersey to sponsor her for 4 years at Secondary School. Rehema never lost the spirit for hard work and gained a Mean Score of A- in her KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education). Quite an achievement!

Then John Brooker managed to find a sponsor to take Rehema on to University. Thanks to Janice Lee and the Peter Carr Charitable Trust she is now studying a 5 year Law Degree. As expected Rehema is working hard and gaining good grades in all her studies. She is so grateful to everyone who has supported her over the past few years and is hoping for a bright future. Her Mum says she has “no words to express the appreciation for the great opportunities that her daughter has been given.”

Rehema is certain that she will be successful just like the other students on her course, most of whom come from wealthy families. She says “I now believe that anything is possible in life if you work hard.”

Update – 11 July 2020

Rehema completed the first part of her Law Degree in 2018 and was awarded an Upper Second Class Degree at the Nairobi University’s award ceremony in December 2018.

Rehema was accepted for the 1 year Advocacy Course starting in January 2019. Success in this course in vital in Kenya as lawyers in Kenya must be able to act for clients in court as well as carry the work out of a solicitor.

The Advocacy Course is an extremely difficult course to pass as the annual pass rate is only ever between 20% and 25%.   

Rehema worked extremely hard throughout the whole year and in January 2020 was notified that she had passed all 9 exams to be one of only 25% of successful candidates.  The pass mark was 50% and above.

Rehema’s results for the 9 examinations were – 

Civil Litigation……………………………51%
Criminal Litigation……………………..61%
Probate and Administration………..60%
Legal Writing and Drafting…………63%
Trial Advocacy……………………………63%
Professional Ethics……………………..69%
Legal Practice and Management….70% 
Conveyancing…………………………….63%
Commercial Transaction……………..66%

Before being ‘Called to the Bar’ all candidates must undertake a 6 month Pupilage (attachment) at a registered Law Firm.

Thanks to businessman Solomon Mutungi, who has facilitated and organised for sponsored Mikoroshoni pupils to attend Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities, he arranged for Rehema to undertake her Pupilage with a lawyer friend of his, Mr Karburu.

Right from the beginning Mr Karburu has given Rehema the opportunity to meet with new clients and to take on their cases. Rehema has been given the opportunities and responsibilities to prepare documents for many court cases. When these have been checked by the only other lawyer working for Mr Karburu, only minor amendments have been needed. This is a reflection on Rehema’s true ability as a young and newly qualified lawyer. 

Unfortunately for Rehema the Coronavirus outbreak interrupted her Pupilage just one month after she started. The universities were closed and the courts greatly limited the work that they did. Mr Karburu, along with many others closed his office. 

It was a month before Mr Karburu was able to open his office again even though there was only limited access to the courts. Being an older person and considered to be more at risk, Mr Kaburu only worked from home. All the legal work in the office, including meeting with new clients and preparing documents, was the responsibility of the other qualified lawyer and Rehema.

However, the other lawyer gave in her notice and left at the beginning of July. Rehema was asked to take responsibility for all the legal work in the office which she has done. This is a great responsibility but a fantastic opportunity for a newly qualified lawyer. Rehema has just had her first week on her own, and with Mr Kaburu able to offer her guidance when needed, Rehema is making a great success of this wonderful opportunity. 

At this point in time, it has been announced that the universities will open up again in September providing they follow very strict protocols, but there are no indications yet as to when the courts will fully reopen which is when Rehema will officially be able to continue her Pupilage. 

The first part of the degree qualification entitles Rehema to act for clients just as a solicitor does in the UK.

Rehema was accepted into the Kenya School of Law in Nairobi in January 2019 to begin the second phase of her Law Degree.

This course is for 12 months followed by a 6 month placement with an approved Law Firm.

Rehema will then be ‘Called to the Bar’ and will have qualified as an Advocate, which means she will also be able to represent clients in court.