Mid-winter is a great season at Growth Through Learning. We go into top gear as we begin receiving most of our donations for the year, updating our records and sending out handwritten thank you notes. At the same time, we receive reports on our scholars, and those who are graduating in November (their school years follow the calendar year). Who graduated this December? Who will likely be looking into going into University or College? How did our first year students fare? Are our older students still on track? Who experienced family tragedies or medical problems this year and might need some extra help? How do we address the students whose academic performance fell this year?
Even as we are going through letters and reports from our existing students sent by our coordinators, we are starting to receive applications for new students looking for scholarships for the first time. Thankfully, we expect to be able to accept some new students in each of our five regions every year (keep the donations coming!), but we always collect a few more than we have money for in case we can find the dollars for just one more scholarship. There is nothing worse than telling a student “no” and nothing better than coming through with a last-minute “yes.”
So that you better understand what we are looking at here, I thought I would share with you some of the notes sitting on my desk this morning from scholarship applicants hoping to attend secondary schools in Western Kenya:
“A” comes to us straight from a primary school in Kisumu. She tells us that the death of her father was her greatest challenge in life so far; she and her three siblings “were left with a jobless mother who could not provide for us. We sorted it out by leaving our house in Nairobi and coming to live with a relative in Kisumu.” Unfortunately, her mother was ill in 2012, and “A” helps her mother to sell small items so that the family can survive. In spite of all of this, “A” came in 8th in her class of 125 students last year. Our coordinator recommends her highly: “she is very bright and can do very well if only she gets fees that will enable her to be in school.”
“S” is clearly a determined young woman. She writes that “school is important to me because it helps me to acquire knowledge and skills to be a better person in the future.” Intent on helping her family and “bringing resources to our less fortunate community,” “S” convinced an uncle to pay for her secondary school fees if she did well on the national exams. She succeeded on the exam, qualifying for a high-level secondary school, but her uncle reneged on the offer. “S” writes, “when he did not keep his promise, I sent my father to got to the principal to talk to her so that she could allow me to attend school while he looks for school fees.” She comes to us as a last hope of raising her fees.
“P” writes that “Going to school is a very important thing in that a person who is learned protects his/her life and is valued…If you go to school, you may be able to take care of your siblings and the needy. Education is the key to success in the present Kenya.” “P” is an immensely talented scholar. She is orphaned and lives with a grandmother who has no means to support her. Her national exam scores were excellent and she came in first in her class of over 120 students. But she could not afford to continue beyond Kenya’s free primary schools. Rather than give up, “P” began her search for school funding, “I prayed to God and walked from one school to another looking for a sponsor.” She eventually found our coordinator, Godfrey, who writes, “At the beginning of this year, she came here on her own to ask for a chance and possible sponsorship. I took her in, having been impressed by her determination to get an education. She deserves sponsorship.”
Happy holidays and peaceful, prosperous and healthy New Year from everyone at GTL.