Very excited, as it happens. Tonight I give you our very first new scholarship winner of the season-congratulations to Mary of Kenya! Out of respect for Mary’s privacy, I am not going to give you her last name (surname). Nor will I post her photo, though I can tell you she looks every bit the part of a strong, adventurous, world-class survivor. But I will tell you a little bit about why Mary won our first scholarship of the year.
As many of you know, the vast majority of our scholarship money goes to secondary school scholarships (that’s middle and high school for those of you at home). However, we give out a small handful of post-secondary scholarships every year for students who perform brilliantly in high school or show us something really special. Mary was a strong student, but she earned her scholarship for that second category.
When Mary was 12 years old her mother passed away, leaving her and her two younger siblings orphaned. She and her younger sister wen to live with an aunt; her brother went to a grandparent. Mary’s aunt had very few resources, so we granted Mary a scholarship years ago to make sure she could go to secondary school. Mary’s sister is sponsored by World Vision, a great organization that we often come across in our Kenyan programs.
Mary was an above average student throughout high school. She earned good enough final marks to qualify her for national university admission–but not enough to qualify for a scholarship. Stuck in a holding pattern, she hoped to find a housekeeping job to sustain herself and help with her younger sister’s expenses.
That was when Mary and her family learned that their grandmother had abandoned their little brother. At only ten years old, the little boy had disappeared completely. Mary went searching, eventually finding him begging on the streets. She had no home of her own in which to care for her brother and was forced to find him a place in an orphanage.
Mary’s little brother is now eleven years old, and she dreams of doing well enough to take him home one day and to provide a bright future for herself and both her siblings. Nor will Mary forget what she and her family have been through. In an application handwritten with painstaking care, Mary promised that she would use her own success to help less fortunate children.
Mary has been admitted to a Kenyan college, and we are honored to be sponsoring her there.