I’ve travelled quite a bit over the last few weeks and have visited a number of students, who are studying in every which way, from all the way in Maasai lands, to right here at Dagoretti High School just outside Nairobi. We’ve spent mornings and afternoons together, talking through what life is like in school, and the impact that this investment in education is having on them. Some of these students are new to me, others I’ve known for over a half decade. Transformation is the operative word here. But not without the challenges, even within the system.
The culture of “child sponsorship” exists far and wide here. It’s an approach that we steer away from. Our approach of building scholars (vs. helping sponsors) and developing a scholarship fund, I believe, has made the difference. We’re dealing with equity here. We’re in the business of bringing back into balance what has been knocked off course. It’s like repairing an crooked railroad track. Once everything is brought back into alignment, the train can cruise forward.
And what does it mean to bring things back into alignment? I’d say a few things are at work here. The easiest of all is the provision of school fees, simply opening the door, and allowing access to education for those deserving of it. Secondly, is the reinforcement of the message of dignity and empowerment. Our students are capable, bright, and future contributors to society. Many of our alumni are doing amazing things, and are now pouring back into the national economy both monetarily as well as the human economy. Along the road, many of our students do not have a straight forward story. Many are going back to school after years away from the classroom.
One young woman in particular, was unable to continue her education in her early teens, because she became a young mother. She all but gave up on her future, and the father of the child had left. Imagine, after being out of school for years, to muster up the confidence to get back in the classroom, with peers much younger. Imagine what that takes! She’s determined to finish, for herself, her future career, and of course for her family.
Unfortunately, many in society do not see education as a right, but a privilege. I’ve met many of these along the way, and lack of progress, I believe is in part due to these mentalities. It’s clear to me that investing in education through scholarship funds like the ones we have at SFH, which provides access to those most at risk, is not a donation, and is not merely an act of kindness. I’m seeing a brighter future for humanity, with every mind opened and invested in. As a race of people, we are up against some real challenges. We’re no longer separate, divided by oceans and languages. By partnering with our young brothers and sisters, I’m sure we’re only improving the likelihood of a sustainable and prosperous future for us all.