When she was admitted in Form One in 2015, Valarie Alice had already clashed with her parents a million times over her insatiable appetite for cooking.
Her mother, Anne Okello thought that the only child in the family was losing so much in academics as she spent any free time trying out her kitchen skills.
And joining Nyakach Girls’ High School became like a dream come true for Valarie, as the school offered Home Science subject.
Within a short while, the little girl was all over planning and executing cooking practical lessons. All this while, her performance in the other subjects continued to dwindle.
Two years later, her mother discovered that she was spending so much time cooking, and decided to get her out of the school.
“We started looking for a school which was not offering Home Science subject,” said Ms Okello.
Unfortunately, every school that offered them a chance happened to be offering the subject. Some of the schools Ms Okello managed to secure placesd include; Sinyolo Girls, Dudi Girls’, Ogande Girls’ and Aluor Girls’.
Lady luck for the parents
She turned away the chances, and looked westwards, where she identified Mbihi Girls High School in Vihiga County.
“I felt relieved, as the school had no Home Science subject. We soon admitted her there, and we felt relieved,” she said, adding that they forced the girl to repeat Form Two to give her enough time to recover.
With her passion out of sight, Valarie ventured into swimming, where she performed excellently and represented the school till national level.
This put the school in the national map, and she got too get close to the school principal. It was this opportunity that she used to persuade the principal to introduce Home Science subject.
“At first I wrote a note to the principal, and it seems it may have disappeared in the hands of her handlers. So one day I bravely went to her office and sought to have a word with her,” said Valarie.
After the talk, the principal brought in a Home Science teacher to help Valarie who was the only student. And the deal was to keep this from her parents.
Another trouble with parents
It was only after registering for Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination that the mother came to learn of the secret.
Valarie had delivered a letter from Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) detailing the requirements for her Home Science examination practical.
“I was shocked when I saw the letter. All along Valarie’s report form had indicated that she was undertaking Agriculture subject. There was no Home Science. But I had nothing to do as it was already late,” said Ms Okello.
Valarie went on to sit her examination, scoring a mean grade of C- (minus) with B (plain) in Home Science which was the best score among the eight subjects she was examined on.
Having failed to secure university place, the parents advised that she stays at home as they plan for her next academic life.
Back to bakery
While the mother who works with a local NGO on empowerment program was busy in the field, Valarie was back to what she loved; cooking.
She managed to get in touch with a person who was making cakes, to sharpen her skills, and soon she begun to cook her own in the home jiko.
Her mother only discovered when she begun to give her money to save for her, and she disclosed that the monies were from sale of cakes which she had been making and selling in the neighbourhood within their KenyaRee Estate in Kisumu.
During 2020’s Mothers’ Day Celebrations, Valarie got an order for over 30 cakes, ranging between Sh1, 000 and Sh2, 500.
“I was shocked when the girl gave me Sh54, 000 she had made from the sales. I felt I had wrongly persecuted my daughter, and sought for forgiveness,” said Ms Okello.
Ms Okello said she topped up the money and helped the girl acquire an oven at Sh60, 000 and gave her blessings to fully venture into baking.
Few months later, the business boomed, and orders for cakes begun to flow. Since then, Valarie has become the family breadwinner.
“She (Valarie) took over our domestic needs, and said her parents will nolonger buy food in the house,” she added.
Back to school
In early 2021, Valarie enrolled for a Diploma course in Food and Beverages at Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology (RIAT).
“The people who knew what I wanted in life encouraged me to keep the fight, and I am glad that I lived my dream despite the opposition from my own parents. I forgave them,” said Valarie.
Her dream is to establish a bakery, and provide coaching to young girls who have dreams in various fields.
“I still use my parents’ house for the work, but I hope with time I will get enough space so that I maximize on the production,” said Valarie.
With wheat flour, milk, eggs, fresh cream, fondants and flavours, 21-year-old Valarie is living her dream of being a kitchen master, and she is not looking back.