Students around Amboseli head to school with scholarships from IFAW

The student beneficiaries of the IFAW education scholarship with OOGR and IFAW staff membersEducation is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world - Nelson Mandela

If you can read this, there is a high probability that in your formative years you received an education, which opened up your world and presented opportunities that would not have been possible otherwise.

Some cannot read this. They did not miss out on an education because they did not have the drive or opportunities to get one, but because they could not afford it. In most parts of the world, getting a good quality education costs money that some don’t have.

In places like Amboseli, tucked in the Southern part of Kenya, getting a basic primary school education is difficult, a university education, even more so. Most of the inhabitants of the area still rely on cattle as their only source of livelihood. Some who are not financially well-off may own a few goats and sheep which are used by the family as a source of milk and occasionally meat. Others may not even own these.

IFAW’s Amboseli Elephant Project is striving to ensure that some members of the younger generations in this area receive a good quality education.

Through the Olgulului/Olalalarshi Group Ranch, with which IFAW has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, the Project has embarked on an ambitious objective to educate at least 66 bright but needy students through high school, college or university education over a four-year period.

The scholarship will cover tuition fees, the students’ course materials, accommodations, travel costs where applicable, and a modest amount of spending money.

As of the end of April, 41 of the 66 students had been identified, their details verified and their fees and all other monies paid for. Of the 41, 13 are in university, 6 are studying Education at Diploma level, 3 are studying Health Studies in college, 8 are studying for Diplomas in Wildlife Management and 11 are in secondary school. Student identification, selection and verification are on-going for the 25 slots yet to be filled, with hopes of filling them within the course of 2015.

Staff from the IFAW East Africa office met with 34 of the 41 scholarship beneficiaries in Amboseli. The meeting was the first of what will hopefully be a quarterly activity to interact with the students. The meetings will also offer an opportunity for the IFAW staff to have face-to-face mentoring sessions with the students and get to learn more about them.

During this meeting the students got to learn about IFAW’s activities in the Amboseli ecosystem with the expectation that they will become advocates of conservation within the area. The students also got a chance to ask questions to the IFAW staff. Most of the questions centered on land use, human-animal-conflict and, furthering their studies. Though most of the students were born and raised in Amboseli, some were not knowledgeable about the ecosystem, particularly the Kitenden Corridor, where IFAW has leased land.

The students were grateful to IFAW for the opportunity they are receiving to transform not just their lives, but those of their families, their communities and the world.

In the days following this meeting, IFAW staff received these messages of appreciation:

Solomon Loomba, a father to one of the beneficiaries, stated: “When my son Kelvin arrived home from the IFAW meeting he was so happy you could see it on his face. After he told me how his day was I told him if it were not for IFAW my son could not be [in school] today. Please pass our sincere and special thanks to IFAW for initiating this noble action.”

Edson Nailianga, a beneficiary of the scholarship and a student at Moi University stated: “Even a blind man can see what IFAW has done in Amboseli, especially on the scholarship. Please extend [the scholarship initiative] to other group ranches.”

--JN

For more on our work in Amboseli, visit our Amboseli Elephant Project page.

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