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 Education  Kenya Project #20229

Sponsor and Support Students in Rural Kenya

by Kenya Keys
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Sponsor and Support  Students in Rural Kenya
Agnes outside her home
Agnes outside her home

 

At Kenya Keys, we have met and worked with many talented young people from the Taru region of Kenya.  Agnes is a young woman who has thrived even when faced with multiple obstacles in her path.  We met Agnes in 2001 when she was recommended by teachers and community members to be a potential recipient of a Kenya Keys Sponsorship.  The Sponsorship Program covers tuition costs for young people who have earned top scores on the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, which qualifies students for high school admission.  Agnes performed exceptionally well on the exam, in addition to being a top student in her class.  Growing up, her family struggled to make ends meet and her parents did not have the ability to pay for her high school tuition, so this sponsorship was a great blessing.  

 Agnes and her family suffered a horrible trauma when Agnes was in primary school.   Her older sister, whom she loved dearly, was killed while collecting firewood.  The loss of her sister was devastating to Agnes and her whole family.  Agnes worked hard and was a leader in high school, despite the fact that she suffered greatly from PTSD.  Grieving for her sister while completing her high education was not easy but Agnes was determined and received her high school diploma.  

After high school Agnes decided she wanted to go to college and study to become a nurse.  Her sponsor from Kenya Keys was happy to support her goal and continue sponsoring Agnes’s college education.  During this time Agnes became pregnant.  She was devastated and feared she would not have the opportunity to become a nurse.  Her Kenya Keys sponsor knew of her family tragedy and how hard she had been working towards her dream. With the help of Kenya Keys staff, Agnes was assured that her college sponsorship was secure and waiting for her after she gave birth.  Her mother understood the importance of a college education and agreed to care for her grandchild while Agnes went to school. Her family was living in extreme poverty at this time, as her father had abandoned them.  They often did not have enough money to buy food and other daily essentials.  Agnes wanted to finish her education because a college diploma opened doors to better paying jobs that would allow her to support her growing family.

Agnes is now in college.  Her mother, a wonderful grandmother and babysitter, is caring for her child.  The support of her family and Kenya Keys has helped Agnes make it through college.  Her studies are going well, and she is currently completing an internship that allows her to help prepare for and scrub in on corneal surgeries.  She hopes to complete her bachelor’s degree in nursing soon.  In her own words, “Thank you so much for letting me acquire knowledge!  May God Almighty bless and protect Kenya Keys.”

Agnes speaking to students about Kenya Keys
Agnes speaking to students about Kenya Keys
Agnes at her internship during a corneal surgery
Agnes at her internship during a corneal surgery
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Noah outside his home
Noah outside his home

The Power of Education

Noah grew up in Magale Village and is the first of his siblings to complete high school and earn a college degree. His mother raised Noah and his 12 siblings alone since the passing of his father when he was a child. Being one of 13 children was not easy and his mother struggled to make ends meet as a farmer. Without the support from Kenya Keys, Noah would not have been able to pay the required fees for high school or college to make it where he is today: the top student in his graduating college class with a scholarship to begin a Master’s program in Education. At Kenya Keys we strive to unlock the potential of all the students we sponsor by eliminating the financial roadblocks to an education and are so proud to see all that Noah has accomplished.

The relationship between Noah and Kenya Keys began over 8 years ago when he was preparing to enter into high school at Taru Secondary School. Noah has always been a strong student and scored very high on his high school entrance exam, the KPCE, which gained him a seat at Taru Secondary School. Noah, like many other bright, talented young minds, did not come from a family with enough money to pay for his high school education. Noah applied for sponsorship with Kenya Keys and it was immediately clear he was determined and intelligent and that with the sponsorship he would be able to get the education needed to help provide for his mother and 12 siblings in the future.

Noah just graduated from the University in Kibabi with a degree in Education and will soon begin a Master’s program in Education at Kibabi. He has been such an outstanding student, getting straight A’s, that he has been offered a scholarship for his Master’s program. Graduating not only at the top of your class, but the first, demonstrates the motivation and intelligence Noah possesses.

Noah has embarked on a path that would not have been possible without Kenya Keys. The mentorship and support from Kenya Keys staff, alumni and Noah’s sponsor enabled Noah to get the education he desired but could not afford. To date, Noah is the highest-level graduate Kenya Keys has had the pleasure of sponsoring. The college degree Noah earned and the Master’s degree he will complete over the next few years will enable him to sponsor his own family members in the future to complete their education and pursue their own dreams.

We have seen first- hand the power of an education and the doors that open with the help of a sponsorship to continue education past the 8th grade. The next cohort of students will be applying for sponsorship in the next few months and we are always accepting new sponsors. Contact Kenya Keys if you would like to sponsor a student in the upcoming year.

 

The Kenya Keys Sponsorship Program now provides sponsorships to 145 secondary students, 146 college students and 3 staff members. We will be accepting new students into the program in December. If you are interested in sponsoring a student, or have questions regarding the Sponsorship Fund, please contact linda@kenyakeys.org.

Noah and his mother at his college graduation
Noah and his mother at his college graduation
Noah and his cousin at his college graduation
Noah and his cousin at his college graduation
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Director Joseph Mwengea and Winnie at her college
Director Joseph Mwengea and Winnie at her college

Imagine being a young 20-year old female, alone in the small rented room you call home, and being awakened in the middle of the night by the fearful reality that someone is trying to break in. This was the terrifying experience of one of our college students recently.  Winnie is a dynamic and engaging young student who came to Kenya Keys last year seeking a sponsorship so she could fulfill her dream of completing a college education. 

Winnie had always been a bright student and had high hopes of attending college - until her father died just as she was graduating from high school.  Her mother had no education so could only work on the family plot (shamba) to raise food for Winnie and her three siblings.  It had been a difficult life for Winnie, helping her family as best she could while yearning to finish school. Because of her good grades and dedication to school, she had received several scholarships, but they were only for a semester or two at a time.  Always she had to return home, with no means to pay for more classes. 

Winnie never gave up on her dream of completing college. When she learned of Kenya Keys, she made a fervent plea for a sponsorship.  Her academic achievements were outstanding, her drive unparalleled and her enthusiasm contagious. Because of the generosity of a Kenya Keys sponsor, Winnie’s goal of embarking on a college degree fulltime came true and she was able to enroll in a Bachelor of Science program in Economics and Statistics.  

A Kenya Keys college sponsorship only guarantees a student the required tuition and fees for school. The students’ families are expected to arrange housing, often with nearby relatives or friends.  But Winnie had no such support, so took a room in a low-cost area near her college.  She was rarely in her room as she spent long hours at school studying.  But on that night, she was there, alone, and she was terrified.

Fortunately, someone happened by and scared away the potential intruder.  And, serendipitously, Joseph, the Kenya Keys Director, was in the area just after this incident and made a visit to Winnie.  When she told him about the potential intrusion, he knew he had to do something to keep her safe – immediately. Because of the money available in the Kenya Keys Sponsorship Fund, Joseph was able to move Winnie into secure on-campus housing so she could continue her studies, assured of safe housing and food.

The Kenya Keys staff realized that Winnie was not the only student in stressful situations, impeding their opportunity for success at school.  The growing need for food and housing for many of the college students living far from home became clear. Many students were found living in unsafe conditions, some close to starvation.  They never complained, nor asked for anything – they were just so grateful to be given the opportunity to attend college.

Kenya Keys is committed to the success of our students: this means providing safe housing, meals and access to computers for all of them.  We want to keep the cost of individual sponsorships low enough to enable families and individuals to be able to afford sponsoring a student, but we must also provide for the safety and well-being of these students.  This is why the Kenya Keys Sponsorship Fund is so vital.

This special Fund made it possible for Winnie to feel safe – and to thrive in school. She is now looking toward graduation this winter, fulfilling her lifelong dream of earning a college degree.  There are currently 130 other Kenya Keys-sponsored students in colleges throughout Kenya: 64 girls and 66 boys. More students will graduate from secondary school this winter and embark on their college careers. Through generous contributions to our Sponsorship Fund, our staff in Kenya will be able to ensure that all of these students have adequate housing, food and support, enabling them to thrive in college. Please visit our website below for more information.

Winnie and her mother in their shamba (farm plot)
Winnie and her mother in their shamba (farm plot)
Winnie's mother
Winnie's mother
Winnie inside her home
Winnie inside her home
The 2018 graduating class of sponsored students
The 2018 graduating class of sponsored students

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New students selected for Kenya Keys sponsorships
New students selected for Kenya Keys sponsorships

We are excited to welcome 40 new students into our Kenya Keys family!

Each year Kenya Keys receives hundreds of applications for sponsorships from students wanting to continue their education. Children love to learn and know that their futures depend on getting an education, yet so few families in rural Kenya can afford to pay the required school fees for secondary school.  A Kenya Keys sponsorship is their only hope to continue in school.

Can you imagine having to decide who gets one of the coveted Kenya Keys’ sponsorships?  Fortunately, we have a dedicated Sponsorship Team of local Kenyans on our Kenya Keys Board of Directors who carefully review each application, the school referrals, academic standing and the family situation. They look for a commitment to education and the community, family need and leadership potential.  

It is a long and challenging process, and in the end, only 40 new students are taken each year: students like Joyce whose parents both died of AIDs when she was young.  Her little brother also died.  Fearful that she might also have the disease, her uncles rejected her, leaving only her elderly grandmother to take her in.  When she learned that she had scored well on the national exams and been accepted to Taru Secondary School, Joyce and her grandmother walked 18 miles to the school.  But her grandmother had no money to pay the school fees or provide the needed supplies.  They turned to Kenya Keys.  Joyce now has an entire book club in Oregon sponsoring her, with 10 American “mamas” supporting and encouraging her!

We welcome Joyce and all of our new students, and celebrate with them the joy of the possibilities ahead. As students in our program they will all receive extensive support from our staff, mentoring from Kenya Keys alumni, and multiple leadership training opportunities.  But most importantly, they have a connection to someone on the other side of the world that believes in them, cares about them and wants them to succeed – that is the essence of our Sponsorship Program.

Our students are each carefully matched with a unique sponsor. If you are interested in sponsoring a student, please contact missy@kenyakeys.org.

Joyce is jubilant to begin her secondary education
Joyce is jubilant to begin her secondary education
Kenya Keys staff help students through challenges
Kenya Keys staff help students through challenges
Kenya Keys alumni return to mentor new students
Kenya Keys alumni return to mentor new students
Students listen intently during conference
Students listen intently during conference
Students get the 'wiggles' out during conference
Students get the 'wiggles' out during conference
Community members, teachers & alumni give support
Community members, teachers & alumni give support
Hundreds of students benefit from sponsorships
Hundreds of students benefit from sponsorships
Joyce now has many American "mamas" supporting her
Joyce now has many American "mamas" supporting her
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Missy and Miriam - forever friends
Missy and Miriam - forever friends

When I traveled to Taru village in 2017, I met Miriam, the girl my family sponsors through Kenya Keys. She had inspired me the moment I heard her story, and it’s been an honor and a joy to be a part of her education as she makes a difference in the world.

While in secondary school, Miriam founded the Save Our Sisters Club (SOS), helping girls learn to advocate for themselves. She and other girls would gather to discuss issues important to them, including the importance of education, hygiene, study skills and other topics. They would visit other schools, teaching younger girls, mentoring them and helping them see the value of staying in school. 

Though shy and quiet when we met, I could feel Miriam yearning to make a difference in the world. After two weeks in Taru, I could see that her reach has gone farther than even she knew. The Save Our Sisters Club has grown tremendously and is holding conferences, helping girls stay in school, develop leadership skills and advocate for important causes.

Undoubtedly, Miriam’s life has changed because she has been able to pursue an education, now attending college.  I am grateful to be a part of that. And because she is a strong woman, the lives of all those around her will also be better. 

It would, however, be vastly understating her impact to say that only those in Kenya have felt her influence. When I saw her again in 2018 I felt a familiar surge of joy at seeing a friend. As we talked about our families and she asked about my kids by name, I was touched that she remembered their names so well when she had only seen pictures or read about them in letters. 

Pulling out pictures, she said, “Of course I remember them! I hope I can meet Ashlyn one day.” My daughter, Ashlyn, is ten, and wants very much to meet this girl who has inspired her and helped her value her own education. I want my daughter to have strong role models, to see women who are sharing their story and making a difference in their community. And undoubtedly, this dynamic student, this strong woman, this loyal friend, is one of them. 

Education changes lives, that is certain. But just how many lives are changed, well, only time will tell. 

Each year, Kenya Keys provides sponsorships to over 200 secondary and college students from the rural poverty-stricken Kinango Constituancy of Kenya.  If you are interested in sponsoring a student, please contact Missy at missy.kenyakeys@gmail.com or visit our website at www.kenyakeys.org.

Missy and Miriam meet in Taru Village
Missy and Miriam meet in Taru Village
Daughter Ashlyn loves to read letters from Miriam
Daughter Ashlyn loves to read letters from Miriam

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Kenya Keys

Location: Lake Oswego, OR - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Deborah Shimkus
Lake Oswego, OR United States
$79,172 raised of $94,000 goal
 
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