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Sh2m raised in support of Kenyan scholar after UK refuses visa to daughter

A Kenyan researcher working at the University of Bristol has received an overwhelming amount of support from well-wishers who have raised Sh1.98 million after the UK denied her daughters visa application.

Dr Doseline Kiguru, an esteemed scholar of world literature was initially delighted to secure a permanent position at the University and wanted her six-year-old daughter to join her.

But as The Guardian has reported, Kiguru’s joy turned into despair after her application to live with her daughter in the UK was declined last week by the Home Office.

When Kiguru’s six-year-old daughter was denied a visa by the UK government, it dealt her a challenging blow, prompting her relatives and allies to launch a fundraiser on the GoFundMe platform to help her reunite with her husband and daughter.

Originally, they aimed to collect Sh1.4 million, but the overwhelming support surpassed their expectations, accumulating a staggering Sh1.98 million within a mere 48 hours.

When The Guardian featured Kiguru’s story, it captured worldwide interest. Her words conveyed her disappointment and frustration with the UK government’s decision to reject her daughter’s visa, hindering their much-anticipated reunion.

Dr Kiguru said she was devastated by the “horrific” decision to deny her little daughter a visa and that she could not bear “to think about how alone and isolated she is feeling” back in Kenya.

The scholar first went to Bristol in 2021 as a research associate on a project on literary activism in Africa. Her work involved her spending long periods conducting field work in Kenya, so the family decided it was not necessary to relocate her daughter.

When she was offered a permanent lecturer position, she and her husband decided to move their daughter to Bristol. Dr Kiguru’s husband, also an academic, cannot look after his daughter because he also travels a lot for research.

But the visa application for their daughter, who has already been enrolled into a primary school in Bristol, was rejected in October and the family now has one week left to appeal.

The visa process should take 15 working days, but it was not until Bristol University intervened at the start of November that she discovered her daughter’s application had been rejected earlier in October.

The Home Office’s rejection said it saw “no compassionate grounds” on which to allow the child to join her mother. The letter, addressed to the six-year-old girl, added: “It was your mother’s personal decision to depart for the UK.”

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