Blog Archives

Our fourth cohort of students completed high school in November, and once again, SYEF hosted a great reception to recognize the achievements of our students, and celebrate education in the Archers Post community. With this group of seven girls and five boys, we have 53 youth who have completed high school since we started. We also selected 12 new scholarship recipients for the class of 2021, and we introduced these young and aspirational minds to our room full of SYEF students, donors and community leaders. Once again, it was a day full of great moments, punctuated by traditional songs and dances, and moments in which many of our current students demonstrated their new knowledge, such as second-year student Almond, who spoke to the crowd in Chinese (the fourth language he is learning to speak). A few days later, our graduates provided advice and encouragement to our new students in a forum co-hosted by students from Colorado State University.

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Our 52 youth returned home for their three week break from high school in August/September, and that means it was time for workshops and service.  Our partners at Daraja Academy, located about 60 miles north of Samburu, again made the trip down the hill to facilitate a leadership-focused workshop over a few days’ time.  Our students revisited goals they set for themselves in April, reflected on success in reaching those goals, and then transitioned the conversation toward the future. Our students discussed big visions for the future of their community, and considered how to translate dreams into day-to-day decisions.

The service project for the break included assistance at a local primary school with their trash disposal options.  There is no solid waste management system in Samburu; every household, school and business must deal with trash on their own.  The most common and practical option is burning trash. Our students helped dig a bigger, deeper hole for trash burning, which is no small task in this region and its dense, dry and rocky soil!

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.

Our sixth annual Harambee in November was a great success. Whenever you combine great food, a perfect venue, and 100+ wonderful people who care about humanity, the energy and vibe is likely to be pretty darn good, and that’s what we had at Fort Collins’ Downtown Artery. We raised more than $7,000, putting us within close reach of our 2016 annual goal. Thank you to the Downtown Artery, Taj Mahal, Barefoot Wines, New Belgium Brewing Company, and a great cadre of volunteers (notably Zoe, Linda, Mary, Erica, Courtney, Shannon, Logan, and Katelynn)!

Our annual Harambee fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday, October 29, once again at the Agave Room above the Rio in Fort Collins (143 West Mountain).  Join us from 7-10pm for celebrating successes of the past year and raising the funds for the next!  Silent auction, food, no-host bar, and all of the good vibes of being with a group of like-minded people who value education and philanthropy!  No RSVP needed. Just show up and join us!

In January 2016 we plan to celebrate the 16 SYEF scholarship recipients who will complete high school in December 2015. The festivities include a formal ceremony followed by a reception with SYEF families and students, and a day of outdoor fun with our graduating students the following day. In partnership with Uso Africa Safaris, the trip includes the SYEF festivities along with 10 additional days of safari experiences in other regions of Kenya (including the renowned Masai Mara). Go to http://www.usoafrica.com/syef2016/ for more details and to let us know you’re interested.

The first group of SYEF recipients – 10 youth who received their scholarships in January 2011 – completed high school and received their diplomas in December 2014.   On January 4, SYEF sponsored a ceremony and reception with our 63 SYEF recipients to-date, family members, community elders and more than a dozen SYEF donors who traveled to be part of the festivities.  The morning ceremony featured remarks by a number of individuals, introductions of the graduates, traditional celebratory songs and dances by the SYEF students and more.  It was a heart-warming and fulfilling day for everyone!

The latest cohort of scholarship recipients was selected in early January. The group of 8 girls and 5 boys were informed about their full scholarship on January 3, and on the 4th they were introduced at the first-ever SYEF celebration to recognize the first graduating cohort (selected in 2010).  The students were selected by SYEF’s local advisory committee based on academic achievement, character, and leadership potential.  Welcome to the SYEF community to Tabau, Jackson, Elisabeth, Sandra, Julietta, Diana, Martin, Dida, Jane, Nasieku, Musa, Juliet and Bukayo!

In November, SYEF alumnus Gabriel Lengamunyak kicked off the Samburu Moran Education Programme (SAMEP) to increase literacy among his peers with minimal formal education.  “Moran” is a term to describe young (and usually unmarried) adolescent men in Samburu, and they have traditionally had primary responsibility for herding livestock and providing security to their community.  Nowadays, individuals like Gabriel might choose to pursue a formal education in lieu of those traditional roles. In the case of Gabriel, he chose school in order to acquire skills and strategies for community development  and poverty alleviation.  He is now a student at University of Nairobi seeking a degree in project management and planning. SEMAP is entirely his vision and initiative, and his efforts illustrate the positive outcomes of an investment in education.

Andrew, one of SYEF’s first-ever scholarship recipients, recently started his first term of college at Eldoret University in western Kenya.   Many years ago, Andrew was one of a cadre of young people in Samburu who inspired SYEF founders to start the organization. He would work tirelessly on homework, and after completing his homework, asked for more story problems, multiplication worksheets and other homework so he could continue learning. He was around 11-12 years old at the time.  Following his completion of secondary school in November 2013, he was awarded a government scholarship to college for his high marks on Kenya’s required national secondary school exam.  In early September, he made the 15 hour journey to Eldoret and began classes, with an intent to major in a science discipline.  Congratulations, Andrew!

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