A lesson learned

When still at school, Kenyan born Judy Chesire realised that for many children living in the remote area of Bartabwa in Kenya, finishing their education was not possible because of seriously harsh living conditions. At 22, determined to act, Judy was inspired to use the Award to make a difference; and so, the Education and Life Empowerment Programme was born.

The challenge

Judy wanted to change the negative assumptions about formal education that existed among young people living in difficult conditions; too many perceived a bleak and hopeless future. With the backing of her Award unit and following consultation with the local Chief and members of the Kapturo community, Judy began by giving motivational talks at community barazas (local meetings). She enlisted the support of local students who taught in areas struck by staff shortages. Furthermore, she made learning fun with games, physical exercise and music for the students from the various schools in the Bartabwa region.

The results have been outstanding; school performance has improved and more students have enrolled for school places particularly in secondary education. There has also been an increased desire to learn, meaning better student retention and ambitions for places in higher education have increased. Many participants in the scheme have also learnt new skills from the cultures of the communities involved and expanded their own social networks.

Overcoming hurdles

Getting the project off the ground was not easy as Judy had to raise all the start up funds herself.  She was also faced with language barriers, inadequate transport, poor communication networks and a lack of portable drinking water. However, thanks to her tenacious determination, the project succeeded and financial support followed, as well as donated text books, pencils and reading materials for the schools.

A word from Judy

“Setting up the Education and Life Empowerment Programme is my way of giving something back to the community, since I have been privileged to access education up to university level without any hindrances, as opposed to the girls and boys who come from this area. It is fulfilling to see the young boys and girls getting inspired to forge ahead with education, despite the current harsh circumstances they live in.”

The real proof of success

“There has been tremendous improvement in the schools’ examination performance since this project started. The community is happy that we are sending more students to secondary schools unlike before, especially girls. Our interaction with the participants has proved worthwhile for we have teamed up to build a nursery school and day-care school for the community. We welcome them always and hope to carry on with the useful work which will make a difference in this area.” - Joseph Yator, Chief, Kapturo 

Judy is a final year student at Egerton University, Njoro in Kenya where she is pursuing a degree in Community Development Studies. She is a Silver Award holder and is currently awaiting the presentation of her Gold Award. The project fulfilled the Residential Project Section of Judy’s Gold Award.