Mwara Primary School

A cook is normally the unseen and unheard of member of staff who is only remembered if the quality of food is terrible. Many times they are ignored especially of they happen to be school cooks.

But one cook at Mwara Primary School will surely have poems sang about her, after her quick and timely actions avoided what would have been a catastrophe.

The cook called Mary Wanjiru saved the lives of hundreds of pupils at Mwara Primary School on Tuesday after she noticed that the water reserved for cooking was contaminated and stopped its usage.

Mwara Primary
The tank

Kiharu sub-county public health officer Milka Njenga confirmed that the water, harvested from rain and stored in a tank, had been poisoned. Samples have been sent to a government laboratory to ascertain the substance added to the water.

The cloudy water
The cloudy water in the tank

School headteacher Mr Julius Githae said the cook, Mary Wanjiru had noticed that the water was milky and emitted bad odour.

Mwara Primary
The headteacher

The cook is normally the first to arrive at the school to cook for nursery pupils and teachers. Mr Githae said:

“Upon receiving the news from the cook, I notified the education officials, the administration officials and officers from the public health department to come and witness the incident.”

Teachers and pupils were immediately instructed not to use water from the tank.

Mwara Primary

The tank has only one tap which is operated in the kitchen. Health officer Ms Njenga said they have sent samples to the laboratory to establish the nature of the poison.

She advised the school’s management to pour all the water from the tank as they wait for test results.

She said the outcome of the tests will be out after 72 hours. Mary is not the only Kenyan hero who has worked at a school.

Salah Farah was a Muslim teacher who died from wounds he sustained while shielding Christians during a bus attack in 2015. Farah was shot after refusing to be separated from Christian passengers during an al-Shabab attack on a bus travelling from Mandera to Nairobi in December 2015.

Salah Farah
Salah Farah in hospital

He later succumbed to his wounds, leaving behind four young children aged between two and 10, and a pregnant wife.

But heroes rarely live to see the fruits of their labour. Farah was later awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya by President Uhuru Kenyatta “in recognition of his remarkable act of valor”.

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