| Feb 20, 2024
Fighting for Her Future
Kanga at the Kenya Keys office
Kanga is fighting for her future, and the odds are against her.
Kanga’s parents live in something akin to modern-day slavery on a sisal plantation in rural Kenya. Their world is small, limited by poverty, illiteracy, and the outdated tradition that a teenage girl needs a husband, not an education. They say it is past time for Kanga to be married.
But, Kanga wants to go to high school. For years, she managed to stay in school because kind teachers who recognized her potential paid the school fees her parents could not afford. She was selected school prefect for five years, then nominated to be the school's librarian. She became an effective time manager, helping with household chores and caring for younger siblings before devouring books and studying for tests. She fought for the chance to learn.
Kanga credits Kenya Key’s Hope Springs project – an after-school program aimed at helping the most vulnerable middle-school students develop life skills and cope with the challenges of their world - for helping her develop time management, self-dependency, and effective decision-making. She set her sights on education and a career as an accountant in place of an underage marriage and a life of poverty. First, she had to find a way to pay for high school.
In Kenya, high school is not free. For subsistence farmers and day laborers like Kanga’s father, high school tuition and fees can be more than a year’s wages. There was no way her family could afford high school, even if they were willing. Which they weren’t. Kanga held out hope, focusing on staying in school and studying for the national test that determines high school placement.
When test results came out, a miracle came with it - a Kenya Keys sponsorship to boarding high school. Kanga’s teachers had pled her case and Kanga’s persistence spoke for itself. Kanga was thrilled, but her parents were indifferent. Students were expected to bring a uniform, mattress and bedding, books, hygiene supplies, and food. Who would pay for all of that?
Kanga walked miles to beg Kenya Keys staffer Clemence for assistance. “Madam, if you say I demand too much, it will mean I have to go back home and nothing will change with my family,” Kanga explained.
Last week, Kanga had something of a new life; new uniform, new school, new home at a boarding school for girls, and Kenya Keys librarian Mwanaisha sitting in as her guardian at the parents’ meeting. There’s a long road ahead of Kanga before she achieves her goal of self-dependence, but she has friends near and far who are helping her along the way.
This is what Kenya Keys means by “unlocking potential” - allowing this bright and determined young woman an opportunity to be who she can become, to break out of a cycle of poverty and write a new story, one with a hard-fought happy ending. All of this is only possible through the generosity of Kenya Keys supporters, who make miracles like this happen for hundreds of students. We cherish the opportunity to do this work with you, providing hope and unlocking potential for hundreds.
If you would like to sponsor Kanga or another student, please email Paula@KenyaKeys.org.