A Mountain of Challenges – Secondary School Grads
Could these young people ALL be Kenya Keys secondary graduates from just one year? It was hard for me to believe, looking over the 28 of them, gathered because we were in town. Starting with just 14 total sponsorships nine years ago, it was hard to believe that U.S. sponsors had helped well over 300 students acquire an education they never dreamed of.
Dressed up for the occasion, the grads passed around the mic as they answered our question about what had been their greatest challenges during high school – certainly not responses you would have gotten from grads in the U.S.
- Missed school due to illness – malaria, asthma, TB, etc;
- Inability to get medical help for these problems
- Frequent teacher strikes that kept them out of school, thereby getting behind on preparation for the national exam
- Being sent home from school because of not being able to pay extra school assessment fees
- Death of family members, affecting them emotionally and financially (3 more of our students became orphans this year)
- Disruption of class due to political unrest
- Destruction of facilities due to violence and vandalism
- Lack of textbooks – often as many as 9 students per textbook
- Rainy season bringing blackouts, so there is no light to study by
- Long distances to travel to get to school – often in the dark
- Necessity of dropping out of school temporarily to help earn money for family survival
And the list goes on. Suffice it to say, the graduation of these students was something to celebrate. Competing against students from all across Kenya, many of them had done well enough to go on to college. All of them would be “first generation learners,” promising a brighter future for their own children.
Were we proud? You bet we were!