Matatu tout by day, accounts student by night
A tout of a city matatu plying Lang’ata route has defied all odds to study and acquire a degree in Bachelor of Commerce and is in the process to studying for CPA section two.
Meet Douglas Ombachi, a father of three who takes time in between matatu trips to revise and complete assignments ahead of his daily evening class.
The 39-year-old completed form four in 1995 with a mean grade of a B minus at Sameta Boys High School but could not advance to college due to lack of fees.
“My father died when I was five years old and my mother, who had been a housewife, started doing menial jobs to support her five children. I had to move to my aunt’s place for her (the aunt) to sponsor my primary and secondary education and so after form four I resorted to hawking shoes,” Mr Ombachi told Nairobi News.
The St Mary’s Sacco matatu conductor moved to Nairobi after years of hawking shoes in Kisii town and invested his and his family’s savings into a second hand 14-seater vehicle.
“I wanted to enroll at a university in Nairobi and since hawking was not giving me money that could pay my school fees and still support my family, I decided to try the matatu business. So as to reduce my expenses I decided to become the conductor and only hired a qualified driver as at the time I was not experienced in driving,” narrated Mr Ombachi.
That was in the year 2010 and two years later, Mr Ombachi enrolled for a Bachelors in Commerce at Kisii University’s Nairobi campus.
“Since I was not making enough money that would enable me grow, I had to decide to go back to school so that I can gain skills that will assist me improve my life. Another motivation was so as to put an end to the harassment by traffic police officers as after my studies I want to look for a better job,” he said.
He mobilized family and friends in two fundraisers; one in Nairobi and the other in Kisii with a total contribution of Sh120, 000 which he used to pay for his first year.
The conductor-cum-student also got a Sh35, 000 loan from the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) during his studies.
Mr Ombachi attends lectures every evening and during the day while in traffic or as he waits for his turn while queuing at the Sacco bus stop inside the Bus Station Terminus.
He has since 2012 completed a 48-unit degree course and is in the December 2016 graduation list but is still studying CPA section two.
“At first I thought I will never get the time to study but when I enrolled for the course I had to create time in between trips and later in the night after classes when I go home I try and revise although my two-year-old last born child always distracts me. In CPA topics like Financial Reporting are a bit tough so I only revise them when I am waiting in the queue but when in traffic I study notes for easier topics like Auditing,” he told Nairobi News.
His notes are always tucked in between matatu seats and when he pulls them out to revise, passengers stare in disbelief and some even question how he manages to juggle the two.
“After graduation and completion of CPA two I will look for a better paying job as the matatu industry has been tough for me to the extent that I have been struggling to support myself and my children who are in school,” says Mr Ombachi.
His piece of advice to young brilliant minds who would like to study but come from humble backgrounds, “Keep pushing until you are able to pursue your studies, do not let lack of funds to limit you.”