Home » ‘No one can employ me” Sad as Ex-KDF officer turns to selling water in the streets of Kericho, makes Ksh 250 per day

‘No one can employ me” Sad as Ex-KDF officer turns to selling water in the streets of Kericho, makes Ksh 250 per day

by Paul Nyongesa
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In the heart of Kericho County, Kenya, a man’s journey from military service to becoming a water vendor has captured the essence of resilience and the unpredictable twists that life can throw.

Jacob Ng’etich, a former Kenya Defence Force (KDF) officer, has seen his life take a remarkable turn, one that showcases the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Jacob Ng’etich’s story begins with his unwavering dedication to the Kenyan military.

He joined the ranks as a serviceman on May 4, 1990, driven by a strong sense of duty towards his nation. Over the course of 14 years, he served with commitment and diligence, honing his skills and contributing to the defense of Kenya.

However, life can often take unexpected turns, and for Ng’etich, this twist came in the form of his passion for athletics.

In 1999, he was granted permission to participate in various athletic camps, representing the armed forces in sporting events. His remarkable performance in the Kampala International Marathon, where he secured a commendable sixth place, marked a high point in his athletic journey.

Little did Ng’etich know that his dedication to sports would lead to a chain of events that would ultimately change the course of his life.

Upon returning to his post at the 10th Engineering Battalion in Nanyuki, he was met with a shocking revelation. He had been marked as absent from work and subsequently confined to the guard room.

The following day brought the most devastating news of his life—dismissal from the military. Despite his desperate attempts to defend himself, the dismissal stood, and Jacob Ng’etich left the army with nothing more than the clothes on his back.

There were no financial benefits, no pensions; his service, which spanned 14 years and 70 days, seemed to have been forgotten.

This abrupt change in circumstances left Ng’etich and his family in a state of distress. He shared the heartbreaking moment when he had to break the news to his wife about his dismissal, a moment that would lead to her falling ill due to the stress of their newfound hardships.

Ng’etich’s life had taken an unexpected turn, and he found himself in a situation where he had to provide for his family. With limited options, he turned to a humble yet essential profession: selling water. Each day, he embarks on a journey that starts at dawn, traveling 5 kilometers to a local stream near the Sigowet trading center.


His means of transportation is a weathered motorcycle, a generous gift from a friend, which he relies on to transport water to the town’s residents.

“I transport eight jerry cans of water per trip, which earns me Sh250. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to support my family of seven children,” Ng’etich said.

One might wonder how a man with a military background, a former soldier who once stood ready to defend his nation against internal and external threats, ended up as a water vendor.

The answer lies in the harsh reality that many veterans face upon leaving the military. Despite their skills, dedication, and commitment to serving their country, transitioning to civilian life can be fraught with challenges.

One of the most disheartening aspects of Ng’etich’s journey is the reluctance of potential employers to hire him once they discover his military past.

He shared the painful experience of securing a job as a watchman, only to be dismissed by the building owner the moment his former military status was revealed.

The weight of his military background has become a burden, limiting his opportunities and hindering his ability to secure stable employment. It’s a predicament that many veterans face as they navigate the complex transition from military service to civilian life.

Despite the obstacles he has encountered, Jacob Ng’etich remains determined and resilient. His dream of rejoining the army has never waned, and he has participated in cadet recruitment exercises over the years, hoping for a chance at redemption.

Yet, each time, he faces the harsh reality of rejection when recruitment officers spot the word ‘dismissed’ on his Kenya Armed Forces Certificate of Service.

Ng’etich’s question about the rationale behind the military investing substantial resources in his training, only to dismiss him unfairly, resonates deeply. His certificate of service describes his conduct as fair and recommends him for employment by any willing employer. However, in practice, this recommendation has not translated into job opportunities.

With tears in his eyes and a voice filled with hope and desperation, Jacob Ng’etich has made an impassioned plea to President William Ruto, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to come to his rescue.

He draws a parallel between his plea and the experiences of prominent Kenyans who, in the past, were denied justice and their rights but now enjoy their freedom.

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