Send Isaac to University

Hello again,

It’s now been over two years since our 2018 fundraiser, and I wanted to provide an update on how your incredible generosity has helped change the life of a young man in Kenya.

For those new to this page, we are here for Isaac Oyoko – a talented, bright, independent young man who could have walked his way into any number of schools given different circumstances. If you are new to his story, I’d strongly recommend you skip down to the INITIAL LAUNCH - JUNE 2018 section before reading on.

29060104_1597581183614182_r.jpegPhoto: Isaac and his good friend Nasrudine on his Rwanda field-trip

UPDATE – AUGUST 2020
Thanks to your support in 2018, we were able to send Isaac on the 9-hour bus ride from his remote village of Ndhiwa, to Kenya’s capital and the University of Nairobi. Once there, he found himself a university supported hostel, began looking for work, and started new friendships with people throughout East Africa.

These formative years vary for each of us, but I’ve been proud of how Isack has tackled them. He has shown maturity beyond his years by recognizing that his situation at school is nuanced from his classmates’. Furthermore, he turned that realization into action when he landed himself a job as a bike courier in a city he was determined to call his own. When times have gotten tough he has picked up extra hours, or borrowed money from the village Chief back in Ndhiwa. For context, unlike myself who used the Bank of Mum & Dad or an extended overdraft to see me through, the Village Chief takes collateral in the form of a cow, returned once the debt is paid. Only after exhausting his options has Isack turned to me for help.

Isaac has excelled in his International Relations studies - Passing his first year certificate course with distinction (the highest grade possible) and is half way through his 2nd year of the Diploma. 

29060104_1597581609269949_r.jpegPhoto: Isaac’s Distinction in International Relations (congrats!!)

There have been a few hidden costs along the way, as there are with any 5 year plan I suppose, but all for good reason. His Diploma course has had several excursions which provided a new perspective outside the classroom and proved to be formative learning experiences for Isaac.

The class visited Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa, to explore Fort Jesus, a Portuguese Fort turned National Park. They also spent a week in the Turkana province in the North of Kenya to study the country’s old pastoralist culture where tribe roam the land without belief in God. And finally, with his first passport in hand, Isaac traveled across international borders to Rwanda to study the genocide of the Tutsi, Twa, and moderate Hutu people that took place in 1994. He studied the actions that that led to such a violent tragedy, visited the Rwandan embassy, and sat in the UN headquarters to listen to Rwandan President Kagame discuss their development post this period of their history.

29060104_1597581686576372_r.jpegPhoto: Isaac and his close friends, left-to-right (Yasmin, Billy, Isaac, and Najma)

Isaac is now 20 years old and a man of his own making. Together, you and I have helped elevate his trajectory, but his work ethic and commitment to his future is entirely his own. COVID has been especially hard on his rural community back home, and he (and to a small degree, I) have helped his mother Lucy and their family as best we can. He currently works at his job 6 days a week, 7 hours a day to pay for himself and provide for his family – and yes, that is all before studying to finish class with Distinction.

As times get tougher and school is delayed due to COVID, he has found an opportunity to triple his pay as a courier by owning his own delivery bike. This would mean he is restricted only by parcel availability and not bike availability from his current employer. It would allow him to earn more money per the same hours worked, and for the first time in his life, raise his income above his cost of living.

Our Continued Goal:
Raise as much money as we can to help Isaac complete his education at the University of Nairobi studying International Relations.

He is extremely driven, intelligent, hardworking, and proud. Under different circumstances, he would have had no limit of possibilities open to him at this stage. What I ask is that if you are in a position fortunate enough to donate during these trying COVID times, please do so here to a very good cause.

Where your money goes (exactly):
Nothing has changed with the funding categories from 2018 as shown in the colored bars in the chart below. Three lines have been added to show the following:

BLUE LINE = Money that has been spent to pay for any school related costs
·  This is inclusive of the bars below the line
·  Sometimes costs are pre-paid (primarily rent) to secure the lowest price . I.e. The last dot shows in January as all school expenses are paid until then
·  The difference is largely due to class trips (above) and exam fees that were initially unknown

ORANGE LINE = Money that has been spent including personal costs
·  This is the total of all money spent
·  Expenses have been wide ranging over the past two years and include the following: travel home, passport, laptop for school, phone repair, cost of living deficiencies, funeral expenses, COVID- 19 coverage for Lucy, etc.
·  These expenses are going up due to economic struggles and are Isack’s primary driver to find a higher income.

BLACK LINE = Money that has been donated to this cause
·  This represents donations from 2018-2019

29060104_1597583974904778_r.jpeg

Thank you!
If you've made it this far down the post, thank you so much for the 10 minutes that you've already gifted us. Any donation that you can add is unbelievably appreciated and your generosity is literally propelling the prospects of Isaac's life forward. I know he'll do amazing things wherever he ends up, he doesn't need our help for that, but what we can do, is help him start those things as far along as possible. Thank you so much, and please ask questions if you have them. We'd both be happy to hear from you!

Alex, & most importantly, Isaac
        ____________________________________________________________________________

Hi, I'm Alex and this my first 'gofundme' experience.  I'm extremely proud to introduce you to Isaac.

Photo: Isaac hard at work

How I know Isaac:

In 2011 I traveled to a village named Ndhiwa. It's a small village on the Western border of Kenya where life isn't always that easy. I went there to test my university dissertation on purifying water and left with mixed experimental results, and a vast appreciation of what my English upbringing afforded me. 

I cannot speak highly enough of the people from Ndhiwa. With their circumstances being limited, they expressed kindness, love and generosity that far surpassed any expectation. I could personify it with a story of the little girl who was so desperate to show generosity to a guest she tried to gift her only valuable possession. Or of the elderly woman that insisted on introducing us to her entire church each Sunday. But I'd rather epitomize this appreciation towards the Ndhiwa people through Isaac Oyoko.

While other kids rightly played games with the foreign backpackers hiding from the heat, or got help with their homework from their elders, Isaac sat with me and my experiment in the midday sun. He helped build the machine each day, recorded its results, asked intelligent questions, and learnt the fundamentals of science that so often don't reach these corners of the world. If this fails to sound as impressive as I found it then, I should add that he was 11 years old. 

Photo: Isaac (right) and friend modeling the equipment 

I was there for 3 weeks and he often asked me to mark his homework. After agreeing, I quickly realized that my Masters in Engineering left me knowledgeable of exactly  60% of his 'Introduction to Science' class ... after a fashion, I guessed and gave him full marks. It was during these times that I learnt his biological mother was no longer with us, and his adopted mother was struggling with the burdens of supporting him as well as her own children.

Isaac was the brightest 11 year old I have met. Knowing the unfortunate certainty that awaited him if he were to drop out of school, I began funding his education myself. I have paid the majority of his school and board for the past 8 years. Isaac is 18 years old now and is aiming for university, and so ... here ... with my resources stretched ... is where I need your help.

Our Goal:
Raise as much money as we can to help Isaac complete his education at the University of Nairobi studying Political Science.

He is a talented, bright, self-sufficient young man who would have walked his way into any number of schools given different circumstances.  I am proud to call him my friend, and ask that you donate whatever you can. 

Photo: Isaac with his family last year

Where your money goes (exactly):
Nine month certificate course that, once passed, grants entry into the university. This is a necessary step when entering higher education from the rural educational system.
   ***  $688 per course x 1 course = $688 total

Two year diploma in Political Science at the University of Nairobi. (Yes, I tried to convince him to do engineering like me but alas).
*** $693 / year x 2 years = $1,386 total

Two year degree
in Political Science at the University of Nairobi and the completion of the previous diploma course.
   *** $693 / year x 2 years = $1,386 total

Room and board at university funded housing. This is necessary as Nairobi is a 9 hour bus ride from his family home and the road is not paved ... trust me. 
   *** $75 / month x 4.75 years = $4,275 total

This makes the grand total of $7,735.

It is not all needed right away (thank god!), as the bright colored excel chart below shows. We have a few years to get there. 
 

Thank you!!

If you've made it this far down the post, thank you so much for the 10 minutes that you've already gifted us. Any donation that you can add is unbelievably appreciated and your generosity is  literally  propelling the prospects of Isaac's life forward. I know he'll do amazing things wherever he ends up, he doesn't need our help for that, but what we can do, is help him start those things as far along as possible. Thank you so much, and please ask questions if you have them. We'd both be happy to hear from you!

Alex, & most importantly, Isaac 


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Organizer

Alex Blenkinsop 
Organizer
Boston, MA
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