Francis is a Junior and Needs Your Help!

Now in his third year at Cameron University Francis has maintained an A average, finishing last semester again with straight A's!!!!, and needs your help to keep going.

Francis’s Story

Francis Waweru’s life started much the same as many young Kenyan kids in the early 2000’s. He was born to a single mom, who worked as house help on a wealthy family’s compound in Nairobi. While the big house had all the fancy amenities of modern living, the servants’ quarters (yes that is what they are still called!), where Francis grew up, didn’t even have indoor plumbing. He and his mom shared a basic room that would best be compared to a horse stall. In 2019, she lost this position and was forced to take a job in the Middle East as a domestic worker. Francis hasn’t seen her since.
At five years old, Francis started making his daily one-and-a-half-hour walk to Karen C Primary School, the public school closest to his “home”. The average class size at the school to this day is over 75 children, and corporal punishment is still used as the most common form of discipline. Between the beatings and mentally abusive behaviors of the teachers and administrators at Karen C, Francis’s future was less than bright. He was not seen as academically gifted, which could not have been further from the truth, but like so many other kids in this part of the world, your exam results are the only thing that matters. But then, through the most remarkable stroke of luck, he found ballet….ballet saved his life.
In 2012, he was given a scholarship to study dance at a local studio, and one year later, Cooper Rust came in as the new artistic director. She brought in another underprivileged dancer that year, Joel Kioko, who instantly became Francis’s lifelong best friend. The two boys moved with Cooper when she started her Dance Centre Kenya studio in 2015. In July of that same year, Francis took his first trip to the United States through Artists for Africa to train at the University of South Carolina Summer Dance Intensive.
But for Francis, the hard times were not over. While the world stopped and fell in love with the story of Joel Kioko, the kid from Kuwinda slum who ended up going to school in London, Francis fell deep into his best friend’s shadow. He was not going to be a ballet dancer, he needed to find his own dream. Then he found technical theatre. Working his first show Tinga Tinga Tales as an intern at the Kenya National Theatre was a game changer, and in 2020 when he got into Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, USA, to study for a Bachelor’s in Theatre, he knew he’d finally found what he was meant to do.
After his first year in school, Francis made the President’s Honor Roll with Straight A’s, but we have hit a challenging roadblock with funding. Due to COVID and the sheer magnitude of tuition costs in the US, Francis’s 5th semester starting in January, is not looking good. Please help us keep this fairy tale alive. Could you help us keep Francis in school? Please help us show the world that we not only support the people sparkling on stage but also the people backstage who light up the space. Every donation is needed; every gift makes a difference.

#A4Ausa #ArtistsforAfrica #DefinitelyDCK #BalletfromtheSlums #CameronUniversity

  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 1 d
  • Jane Onoka 
    • $1,000 
    • 2 d
  • Kandee and Mallorie 
    • $200 
    • 10 d
  • Dinah Bennett 
    • $50 
    • 11 d
  • Brie rust 
    • $20 
    • 12 d
See all


Cooper Rust 
Columbia, SC
Artists For Africa, Inc. 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.

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