While in class six, Anthony’s father, the sole breadwinner of the family, passed on due to HIV/AIDS-related complications. Two years later, his mother passed on right in the crucial year when he was sitting for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education. Anthony was left in the hands of his ageing grandmother. Despite the social, emotional and psychological turbulence at the apex of his education, Anthony performed well in his exams and earned a place in a national school. As fate would have it, instead of joining high school, he secured a job as a herd’s boy in a far off place from home.
One day while grazing animals, Monica, a volunteer children rights promoter with St. Martin, encountered him. He recounted his life story to the volunteer and why he was out of school. St. Martin CSA has trained a network of over 600 volunteers who act as a link between the client system (poor, vulnerable and marginalized people affected by disabilities, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence and human rights violations, alcohol and drugs addiction and children rights abuses) and the resources systems (duty bearers, geographical communities and civil societies). Monica linked Anthony to the St. Martin HIV/AIDS programme. Meanwhile, she entered into a dialogue with Anthony’s employer and other volunteers in the region. They organized fundraising to support Anthony’s education. The fundraising was a huge success and Anthony joined secondary school in the second semester. The volunteers mobilized additional resources from the Constituency Bursary Fund, well-wishers and organized several other fundraisings in aid of Anthony’s education. The volunteers walked with Anthony through secondary education to university where he graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture.
St. Martin CSA in collaboration with communities has supported over 3000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) and accorded them an opportunity to pursue their life goals at different levels of education, among them 100 children born with HIV whose safety, well-being or development was at significant risk. This education support on the very basic level gave children a solid foundation for continued learning throughout life. Retention in school as the example of Anthony shows is critically important to children’s social integration and psychosocial well-being. School attendance helps children affected by trauma to regain a sense of normalcy and to recover from the psychosocial impacts of their experiences and disrupted lives. Education increases labour productivity, improves health, and enables people to participate fully in the economy and the development of societies.
During the 2021 St. Martin’s Day celebrations, an emotional Anthony shared how he started a solidarity group with his peers to support needy children in children charitable institutions in Nairobi where he is currently working. Anthony is creating chains of solidarity and kindness to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all in line with Sustainable Development Goal number 4.
While the Constitution of Kenya 2010 unequivocally promises all Kenyans unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on the progress made thus far to exploit the full potential of education for each and every child, youth and adult in the country, many boys and girls from Laikipia pastoralist communities do not access education. Therefore, we have launched the Soma Mwana project in partnership with Fondazione Fontana, Italy, to support secondary school education for 500 girls from pastoralist communities. 60 are already benefitting from this initiative. With Ksh.40, 800 (Euros 340) per year, you can support a girl to acquire knowledge, skills and values for a life of dignity, to find her own place in society, and to join a chain of young people transforming their families and communities.
“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”