In Kenya primary schooling is free (except for uniforms, shoes and some books) but secondary schooling has to be paid for. This means that many children simply cannot continue school after the age of 14, even if they are very bright. This is a huge loss, for the child, for the family, and for the community, and the missing of an opportunity to climb out of grinding poverty.
In 1995 in the affluent Nairobi suburb of Karen a group of 52 boys drifted into the shopping centre, ragged, barefoot and asking for money. Our Trust was born. Founded by a group of like-minded people we wanted, in a small way, to address this problem.
Our organisation has grown over the years. We no longer have “street children” in the shopping centre but we do have a huge number of determined applicants coming to us at the beginning of each year, sometimes as many as 60. These children are interviewed, those deemed worthy are shortlisted and homes visited to verify the stories. They are selected on the basis of academic potential (bearing in mind that any government schools are of poor quality and class sizes may be 60-70 children), social and family disadvantage, destitution, and a personal drive and ambition to succeed.
Once admitted to the programme school fees are paid and uniforms and all school shopping provided. All of our children are in boarding schools since often the home circumstances are very hard. Students meet at our centre in the holidays where they are able to socialise, have a hearty lunch, and take part in extra tuition in subjects they may find difficult. Funds permitting we aim to take each student also through tertiary education, and then using contacts in the local community, find opportunities of employment.
So far we have helped 186 disadvantaged young people from the Karen area and are proud to have graduates in architecture, clinical medicine, quantity surveying, banking, nursing, accountancy (a popular option), computer engineering, actuarial science, electrical engineering, and community development and vocational qualifications in carpentry, mechanical engineering, mechatronics, and solar energy.
Each graduate who gains employment is lifted into a secure life. In Kenya there is a tradition of help within families so every KSC scholar in employment is likely to be helping to educate siblings, building improved housing for a parent and helping to pull their families out of desperate poverty.
Over the years we are proud to have seen real improvements in the local community as a whole.