Hello friends, family and Rotary family! Thank you for taking a moment to consider this request for support sending my dear friend Maggie to University starting this year. Some of you will remember "meeting" Maggie via my blog (see here and here) - others know what a close part of my life here in Kenya she has become. Almost no one knows her whole story - and because her dream to go to university is THAT BIG, she and I want to share it with you.
In Maggie's own words:
"I have six siblings. My mum is single - this made things really hard for her. I went to two children's homes growing up. We hardly got the basic things in life such as food and cloths. Two of my brothers became street boys. I had to go to a children's home and that's when I got a chance to go to school unlike my brothers and sisters. The first children's home fell apart due to lack of money and so I was taken back home.
A lady who had met my brothers in the street came home to visit one day and when she saw where I lived (we had a cardboard roof at that time) she took me to another home where I settled. I was there for eight years and so I was lucky to have my Primary education. I left when I joined high school. The organization supported me for the first two years in high school. I had to struggle through my third and fourth year. I didn't have school fees most of the time and I had to stay home when the others were in school.
In 2007 came the election violence which got me displaced from both school and home. I missed classes for over three months because I had to get a new school. I did get a new school and just when I thought I had finally settled, I started getting sick. I had black pneumonia and anemia and it took me a long time to recover. I spent most of my time visiting the hospital instead of being in school. It took me a whole year to recover. I would miss most classes and this led to my grades dropping (before I was the top student in my class).
During my fourth year I worked hard and so I improved in school and my health was much better. When I was about to register for my final exams, birth certificates became a new requirement in order to register. I didn't have one and I had to go home because of that. Getting one wasn't easy because I had no documents supporting my citizenship. I started applying for an ID and finally succeeded, but it took me about three months to get it. I worked very hard when I got back to school because I knew that the final exams would determine my future. I did not manage to get the grades I dreamt of but still did well.
I haven't been able to go to college because of money. It's been two years now. My biggest dream has always been to go to college. I have always desired to have a better life - something different from what is in the slums and I know I can't have that without an education.
I would love to do IT studies if given a chance. I took computer classes after high school which I enjoyed studying a lot."
Alright - Megan here again. I hope you're still reading! I wanted to share Maggie's own words about her story - but you must know how much is left out. Her brave attempt to share what she's gone through leaves out most of the most painful, traumatic experiences that accompany life in the slums and a student's constant need to raise funds to stay in school. I have long marveled at the commitment, stamina and dedication this takes.
I came to Kenya on a Rotary scholarship. I had funding and incredible love and support along the way. Every challenge I faced, I had a community to rally around me. At every presentation I gave, every event I attended - Kenyan students would ask me, "how do I apply for this scholarship? How do I get this support?" How was I to explain that it's not an option for them?
Maggie has done so much on her own.
The most fundamental lessons I've learned in Kenya:
1) A country, a community, cannot develop if people aren't educated.
2) It's ok to ask for help. It doesn't mean you're not strong, that you're not smart, that you're not successful.
3) Every person matters. EVERY. PERSON.
4) Problems are not so big that one person helping can't lead to overcoming them. A favorite message from the children's book "Three Questions" - inspired by Leo Tolstoy:
"Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side."
Thank you for considering supporting Maggie in her first year of University. Here's a break down of her budget:
$3265 - University fees for three trimesters
$336 - Yearly transport to/from campus
$1782 - Room/board and living expenses
We already have a couple yearly commitments - woohoo! We are looking to raise the additional $4900 for year one. I BELIEVE IN THIS WOMAN AND WHAT SHE CAN DO IN HER FUTURE.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being part of both our journeys!!!
Ambassadorial Scholar 2008-09, Kenya
Rotarian, Rotary Club of Hurlingham 2010 to current, Nairobi
Director of Global Enterprise, Sasadesignsbythedeaf.com
St. Mary's Girls Secondary School
Class of 2010
USIU Class of 2016!!!
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