Elga Ochieng and Stephen Okoth want nothing more in life right now than the opportunity to continue to be able to complete their secondary school education.
Elga and Stephen grew up in the Kenyan slum of Kibera – among the largest slums on the continent – on the outskirts of Nairobi where they were among the very fortunate few who had the opportunity to attend the Seed School which provides a primary school education to the poorest of the poor in the East African country.
Her mother is a single parent who operates a “fish mongery business” who has been working closely with Seed Foundation program manager Patrick Odongo for the past four years, and who had managed to get her daughter placed into Isaya Amonde Mixed Secondary School, a boarding school about 250 miles from her home.
“Elga has been learning in very difficult circumstances,” said Patrick, who added that the school fees support from Bread and Water for Africa® enabling her to continue her secondary school education “will be a major booster and a great assurance towards her confidence…and her becoming a role model for her family and the Kibera community where she comes from.”
Stephen scored very high marks and was accepted to secondary school with hopes of being able to continue his education.
However, “due to a lack of money” his dream is in jeopardy, Patrick told us.
“He is currently attending a good local school where he has always remained at the top of his class in all his examinations,” reported Patrick. “Supporting Stephen to get through his secondary school education will enable him to become a better person, and hopefully enable him to have a brighter future and help support his younger brothers and sisters.
“We are prayerful and hopeful that he will be able to inspire the young people within his community in Kibera to be more like him.”
In the grant application for the Seed School Scholars, Elga, Stephen and several other worthy students, Patrick explained that in Kenya, when students graduate from the primary school and have the test scores qualifying them to be accepted into secondary school – the majority of which are located far away from Nairobi – their parents or guardians are responsible for the associated costs, not possible for those such as Elga’s mother.
Through the grant funding from Bread and Water for Africa®, the Seed Foundation, which operates the school, “will continue to ensure the students receive the required materials, financial support and items necessary for them to be in school for all the four years of their secondary school education at a cost of about $300 per term for 25 carefully selected in-need students.
“Apart from the school fees charged, the students need additional materials for them to have a smooth learning opportunity,” he added. “Many of the students attending boarding schools need extra supplies to keep them going throughout their academic term.”
Patrick describes the Kibera slum where Elga, Stephen and all the Seed School students come from as “a totally informal settlement where many families migrating from the rural areas of Kenya seeking jobs find themselves.
“A huge percentage of those living here are unemployed or depend on casual labor and menial jobs that are not reliable enough to provide support for their families.
“With such situations, educating their children becomes a less priority issue, or even an impossible burden that many families cannot shoulder.
“Without the grant support from Bread and Water for Africa®, in a very real sense, most of these children would never have an opportunity to go to secondary school.
“The youth population who find themselves in this situation risk falling into a trap where they will either be unemployed, or living at the bottom of the economic pyramid for their entire lives.”
For Elga, if she cannot continue with her education, she tells us, “I would join my mother in doing her business.”
As for Stephen, “I would look for a small job so that I could maintain my life in the slum.”
And they both know all too well, as Patrick puts it:
“This will be their only ray of hope to shine in their lives and acquire better opportunities for a more productive future.”