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The first term of the school year is over, and many of our young people are at or near the top of their class!  Most secondary schools in Kenya are boarding schools comprised of students from all over the country, so our SYEF students are in schools in which some classmates come from parts of the country where primary schools have much greater resources. It can feel intimidating to a Samburu youth when a classmate talks about the computers and labs in their primary school, while the SYEF’s students’ primary schools may not even have had electricity.

 

Many of our students overcome this through hard work and resilience, and it shows in their class rank. We have numerous students ranked in the top five in a class of hundreds! While the high marks are awesome, we are most proud of our students’ hard work ethic and commitment to their success.

Our local advisory committee in Archer’s Post, Kenya selected the 11 recipients for our next round of scholarships on January 8 (bringing our total to 50 students). The students will report for secondary school around February 1 for the start of the year. After a meeting with our students and their parents / caregivers to share the expectations and parameters of the scholarships, the students gathered a few days later at a local primary school for a few hours’ of service in which they painted and hung new blackboards (supplies courtesy of SYEF contributor Karen Canino. Thanks Karen!). We were so immediately impressed with their hard work and cooperative attitudes with each other, that we took them to lunch afterward. It turned into a great discussion about their hopes and fears as they prepare to start school in locations throughout Kenya. Each student shared final remarks as we wrapped up the day, one indicating he never felt so special and happy as he did at that moment, and another sharing that she was surprised at how quickly she felt accepted and a part of something important. We are excited for them to thrive and prosper!

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Our 39 returning scholarship recipients gathered for our annual forum on January 4 to share their experiences of the past year and to listen to members of their community express their sentiments about the importance of their education. Ms. Christina, parent of SYEF scholarship recipient Adriana, gave a speech that had the group silenced as she eloquently spoke about a changing world and the role of these young people have in leading their community through dramatic changes that will come with anticipated development and infrastructure improvements. “In a globalized world, do not be a spectator,” was one of her many poignant moments. Many other speakers from the local community joined the line-up, including two students who are now enrolled in universities to share their stories of how to overcome obstacles and continue their education.

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directly to programs and scholarships that support our youth, and spent a modest three cents ($.03) for every dollar raised. These metrics beat every standard of excellence for non-profit organizations with which we are familiar. We’re able to have a fiscally tight ship thanks to the many people who volunteer their time each year, from maintaining donor databases to stuffing envelopes to planning events. So, when you donate to SYEF you know your contribution will be used well and by volunteers who are motivated by passion and belief in education for Samburu youth.

The Samburu Youth Education Fund has teamed up with Uso Africa Safaris (www.usoafrica.com) to offer a trip to Samburu in January 2015. We will celebrate the high school graduation of our first cohort of students (it’s gonna be big!) and also provide plenty of opportunity to experience Samburu’s amazing wildlife and visit other parts of the country.  If you’re interested, go to http://www.usoafrica.com/syef2015/ to let us know.

Monica is an example about the need for education for girls in the developing world.  Despite her dreams of going to secondary school, she was forced into an arranged marriage at age 15 instead. Many years and broken promises later, she took a bold step earlier this year and fled with her son.  She told SYEF that she wants her story to be among the last ones like it Samburu. She is motivated to become an advocate for the rights of women and girls.  Her sponsorship from SYEF will begin in January.

Many years ago, it was Isaiah and a few of his peers who inspired us to think about creating an organization to support Samburu youth, as he studied relentlessly while in primary school.  Now a student at Likii Hills High School, Isaiah was recently selected by the school faculty to be the student body leader for the 2014 school year.  His school, located about 60 miles from his home, draws students from all over Kenya including many of the more affluent communities. According to his teachers, Isaiah’s background is among the most humble and most poor among his peers.  Isaiah is a perfect example that hard work and strong character help us achieve great things in life no matter our background.

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