Small donors bring hope to poor pupils

Friday June 4 2010

Edumed Trust beneficiaries (from left) Rodgers Walubengo, Lydia Atieno, and David Karanu during the interview. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA

Edumed Trust beneficiaries (from left) Rodgers Walubengo, Lydia Atieno, and David Karanu during the interview. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA 

By BILLY MUIRURI

Would you give Sh200 every month to help someone change his or her life? Or even Sh100 to see a poor child through secondary school?

An education trust in Nairobi has been using such small donations to put poor but bright children through secondary school.

From the small contributions, Edumed Trust has helped more than 100 students to complete their education.

The trust, set up in 1996 by two volunteers, is currently taking care of another 100 students in various secondary schools across the country.

The number of needy pupils has been rising. In fact, only 20 per cent of applicants are funded.

So, who donates money to the trust?

Most are ordinary Kenyans who instruct their banks to deduct their monthly contributions and send it to the trust.

According to data seen by Saturday Nation, more than 60 per cent of the donors contribute less than Sh500 every month.

And the beneficiaries have been appreciative of the chance to improve their lot.

Rodgers Walubengo, 18, for example, scored 411 marks in the 2005 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination in Kisasi Primary School in Hamisi District. However, chances of joining secondary school looked dim because of his family situation.

Two days after the KCPE results were announced, his father, who had been living with HIV, died.

“It was unthinkable that my housewife mother would afford the fees,” says Walubengo.

He received an admission to Chavakali High School and, thanks to the trust, he managed to join Form One. He scored an A-minus in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination and is waiting to join university.

David Karanu scored 489 points out of 700 in KCPE in 2001. His single mother could not afford secondary school fees.

His aunt paid first term fees for him at Chinga Boys High School in Nyeri before Edumed Trust saved the situation to see him through secondary school.

“There could have been no more secondary school education for me after first term,” says Karanu.

Beneficiary

As Walubengo waits to join university next year, Karanu is currently studying analytical chemistry at Kenyatta University.

“My family and relatives had been drained by my father’s long illness. When I passed my exams, it was difficult to celebrate,” says Walubengo.

Lydia Atieno, another beneficiary, emerged from Kibera’s Olympic Primary School in 2005 with 405 marks. She, too, is destined for university.

“I always dreamt of being an economist, but my parents could only afford fees for the First Term,” says Atieno.

Antony Korinyang’ had discontinued school in Form Two at St Joseph Secondary in Kitale after his father was retrenched due to illness.

“I came to Nairobi in 2006 prepared to be a street child. I strayed into Kibera, where I stayed for one year,” says Korinyang. He only went back to class in 2007 when Edumed Trust came to his rescue.

He eventually scored a B (minus), a grade he says does not belong to him. “I am an A student. But circumstances ganged up against me but I will still become an accountant,” he vows.

The first beneficiary of the trust in 1997, Grace Wokabi, went through the University of Nairobi and now works for a multinational bank.
The trust targets pupils who score at least 325 marks for girls and 375 for boys.

“We also look at a family’s literacy level. If there are more elder children who are drop outs, we may need to help the younger ones beat that jinx,” says the trust’s co-ordinator, Elizabeth Waichinga.

Interviews are held in April and money disbursed in second term. She explains: “Many parents raise admission fees, often through harambees and well wishers, but nothing is left when the Second Term comes. This is the gap we come in to fill.”

The trust’s model demystifies the notion that only the rich can support education for the poor.

According to Waichinga, the trust spends between Sh30,000 and Sh35,000 annually per student. “The sponsorship includes medical costs,” she says.

The trust’s board is devising more ways to raise funds.

On Saturday, they will hold a cake festival at The Splash, where amateur bakers will be sponsored to show their creativity. All entrance fees will be used to boost the trust’s kitty.