Blog Archives

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During the first school break of the year, our youth participated in a multi-day workshop facilitated by Stephen Muasya of Daraja Academy about conflict, gender-based violence and leadership. Employing a variety of activities and small group discussions, the students immersed themselves in discussing the source of conflict and the short and long term implications of how conflict is generally managed today.

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Conflict is common in Samburu, unfortunately. Conflict between tribes has persisted for hundreds of years, often in a context of livestock ownership and raiding. In addition, a traditional perspective by men in Samburu toward women has been one rooted in seeing women as property; only within the past 1-2 generations has a value on gender equity really taken hold.

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We envision our students as individuals who not only contribute to emerging social norms about how Samburu think about conflict, tribal tension and gender, but who are at the forefront of creating solutions. Through communication and listening skills, innovative thinking and the courage and confidence that comes with education, we see our students in positions of leadership and social change, and our recent workshop is one of the incremental steps in making that vision come to fruition!

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2016gradsIn what has become our annual tradition, we hosted a ceremony and celebration in early January to acknowledge the 11 youth who recently completed high school (in December 2016) and to introduce our 12 new scholarship recipients. Our new SYEF chairperson Christine Namunyak served as master of ceremonies along her predecessor, Boniface Isigi. Together, they facilitated a ceremony full of many words of encouragement, introduction of our 11 graduates and each of our 52 students currently enrolled in high school, and punctuated with a number of high energy and vibrant songs and dances originating from the local tribes. The ceremony was followed by a traditional (and huge!) meal of sukuma wiki (similar to collared greens), goat stew, rice pilau, cabbage and fruit, all prepared by local SYEF volunteers, and with much of the food donated by SYEF parents and guardians.

It was a day in which literally hundreds of people — students, parents, local leaders, SYEF donors and supporters from afar — joined together to celebrate education. We have 39 graduates to-date, and many more to come.

How you can help:

Attend next year’s ceremony! SYEF donors have attended every celebration to-date.

The event is in early January and can be combined as part of a full Kenya safari.

beadingprogram3We ramped up our beading program in 2016, a program in which we partner with women in Samburu to produce beaded items for resale abroad. Proceeds support the women directly as well as SYEF scholarships and programming. It’s a partnership that results in educational scholarships and income generation for women, or what is known to be a win-win strategy for alleviating poverty, supporting equality, promoting women’s rights, and many other benefits. Our evaluation results from 2016 indicated that women spend more than half of their income on food, and can purchase more nutritious food such as fruits and vegetables rather than relying solely on aid-provided sacks of sorghum and maize. In addition, the additional income enabled women to purchase school supplies for her children, clinic fees, and even set some aside for herself. Perhaps most notable, the women reported feeling less stress because they have less worry about how they will provide the basic needs for her family.

Our original partner, Unity Village, combined portions of their individual income to construct a new hut where adventurous tourists can spend the night for a traditional Samburu experience. They are using their income to invest in other income-generating activities!

In 2017, we plan to enhance these efforts even more, by expanding the number of women who participate by adding new items to the inventory. As we scale up the program, we intend to reach out to women whose children are not supported by SYEF but who are working hard to raise the money to send their children to secondary school.

beadingprogramHow you can help: find an event in your community that is suitable for selling the beaded items. Events with a global, international, women’s rights or fair trade theme are usually most successful, though other fairs, festivals and markets can be worthwhile as well.

You can also host a small event in your home where we talk about our efforts, provide some opportunities for Q&A, and then have items available for purchase.

We’ve been supporting Samburu youth for more than five years now. And we’re convinced that our place-specific, super grassroots approach is how to make a difference in the world. For this model to work, though, efficiency is critical.

We’re committed to running a lean organization, which is why we’re regularly above 90% on the portion of expenses allocated directly to the scholarship program. However, we aim to be efficient not just with our funds, but also with our time. The more time we can allocate to the aspects of SYEF that result in direct impact on youth, the better, of course.

This is where you can help. Our automatic donation program lessens the time needed to fundraise. You can enroll to donate once per month or once per year; it all happens automatically via your debit or credit card. When you do that, we spend less time analyzing donations, less time strategizing and re-strategizing, less time sending out emails and letters to donors. And as a result, we have more time to strategize about how SYEF can be even better and stronger in terms of its impact on Samburu youth.

Please, go to www.samburuyouth.org/donate, click and make it easy. Our goal is to receive 50% of our annual budget via the automatic donation program. When you enroll, you give time back to SYEF to focus on what we’re all in this for to begin with: empowering Samburu youth through education.