Our second-ever annual celebration was held in early January, marking the completion of high school for 14 scholarship recipients, and welcoming 13 new young people to the SYEF community. Following a morning of unusually strong rainfall that delayed the celebration for a few hours, a meeting hall full of youth, family members, SYEF donors and other members from the community convened.
The celebration started with a series of songs and dances based on the traditions of local tribes. The high energy performances set the right tone of excitement for the day. Our 39 current, non-graduating students were then introduced, and the top performing students from each grade level over the past year were recognized. Then, our seven male and seven female graduates were introduced one by one, each having chosen an influential adult to join them in front of the room for their moment of recognition. Graduate Wilma Redenta gave a wonderful and articulate speech on behalf of her peers, and third-year student Peter Lengima performed a tribute to the graduating students.
The celebration ended with the introduction of the 13 new scholarship recipients. These young people were notified just the night before about their selection, and less than 12 hours later were attending our celebration as the newest members of the SYEF community. After the ceremony, everyone convened for a huge meal prepared by many of the mothers, sisters and guardians of our SYEF students. Gifts were exchanged and music played throughout the afternoon. The diversity of people in the room was notable. Elders who speak only their native tribal language and dress in their traditional clothes mixed with SYEF donors who had traveled from the United States to participate and local leaders and SYEF students who remain proud of their tribes and traditions but also seek new ways of thinking and doing.
The January event marks the completion of high school for 28 young people from Samburu supported by SYEF. Fifty-two (52) more are currently enrolled in high school. With five years under our belt, the start-up years are behind us, our numbers are growing, and most importantly, lives are changing that will bring positive change to Samburu.