Access to quality education has been crippled by financial constraints facing most parents countrywide. To bridge the gap, telco giant Safaricom stepped in with an independent charitable trust launching a high school scholarship programme which targeted to sponsor 100 students at over 90 schools across the country.
In January this year, Safaricom’s CEO, Bob Collymore announced that as part of 18th-anniversary celebrations in which they promised to support 100 children through secondary school, they had completed the selection process in December and were happy to see that all the students report to their respective schools.
15-year-old Patrick Munene, a form one student at St Augustin Sirima from Laikipia County, considers himself very lucky to have been selected to join the scholarship program, an opportunity that has been a game changer in his life. He was among the 100 students picked from the cohort of learners who had applied to join the Mpesa Foundation Academy but were unsuccessful.
The programme’s objective has been to see students from needy families across the country and those living with disabilities allowed to join the schools in which they had been admitted, by offering them full academic support.
Hailing from a debilitated family, Munene had to wrap his head around hard work, hoping that someday something great will come his way. Despite performing well in his KCPE, his future was uncertain, bearing in mind that her elder sister who was supporting him throughout primary school, had other demanding responsibilities at stake.
Munene woke up to Saturday mornings of smashing gravel (kokoto) for construction. He worked with so much strength to fill 15 debes a day each at Ksh 25, that he often got bruised with big blisters that remain as dry scars in his palms. But his undying determination kept him going. Munene was able to save Ksh 8000 and even bought himself an Itel Phone.
With the help of his teacher Ms Mutia, he learned about the Safaricom Foundation scholarship programme and immediately sent his application.
” My teacher asked me how I manage my study and cook because I have been staying alone, with the support of my elder sister and tough casual jobs that I have been taking up during weekends. She told me about the scholarship program which she learned about from an M-Pesa Shop. On a school day, she brought me the form and I filled it in. It had a lot of details but what excited me was the fact that they were paying school fees for a student to join high school. I gave her a photocopy of my sister’s ID and my report book and she took them to Nanyuki,” he narrates
Under the Safaricom Foundation, the beneficiaries of the program are entitled to a comprehensive foundation package of annual tuition fee, books, school uniform and 5000 per term for the purchase of key scholastic items required in school, and they are supported throughout the entire secondary program from Jan 2019 to 2022. Safaricom had set aside an amount of Ksh. 40 Million towards this initiative.
Gold Hearted Ms.Mutia, had seen soo much potential in the boy. Having seen him go through so many struggles from financial challenges, hard casual jobs on weekends to family feuds, yet he kept towering in his academic performance, she made it her life endeavour to see Munene, break the glass ceiling.
” Ms Mutia has been like a mother to me. She was so supportive financially together with my sister. She had even gotten me another sponsorship from a Catholic Missionary who was offering termly fees, but encouraged to wait on the M-Pesa foundation which could be a big deal,” he said.
His elder sister who was his guardian had a hard time choosing when both parties responded to her with a cheque and a voucher because she was their contact person to Munene.
” It was a tricky situation to opt out of one and jump on another, considering the Missionary had given him a Ksh 21,000 cheque for Munene’s fee for his first term, only for the foundation to send a Ksh 25,000 Naivas voucher without mentioning that they will pay school fees as well,” mentions his elder sister Caroline.
She decided to use the voucher to shop for his form one admission and on the way to school, she got a call from Safaricom foundation confirming that they have paid Munene’s school fees for a whole year and details sent to her phone. With the Missionary’s cheque, Caroline decided to deposit it into Munene’s school account and informed the school of the other fees paid by the foundation.
” I was very excited to learn the good news. I prayed to God for giving me the opportunity. We were so many of us during the interview. I was not so confident because some of my results were missing and I had no one to take me. My neighbour was good enough to accompany me,” says Munene.
Supporting education is a commitment Safaricom has made as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals which they have subscribed to as they believe in access to quality education, ensuring inclusive and equitable opportunities for all; transforming lives one student at a time.
” I want to be a Meteorologist in life, its something I have wanted so bad. I never wanted to be defeated, I just wanted to compete and in the case where I failed I still wanted to work hard. I have dreams to achieve, that has been my motivation to work hard in life. I really look up to my big sister. I want to support my family and even educate my younger brother,” he notes.
Apart from academic support, the beneficiaries will receive free leadership development training, mentorship and career guidance to attain full potential, from volunteer Safaricom employees who are already under training on capacity building.
” Thank you so much Safaricom Foundation for coming through. I could not have managed to put Munene through boarding school. I urge all guardians to stand strong with their siblings and support them even with the little they have,” says Caroline.
Reflecting on his life, Munene acknowledged that he doubts if he could have continued with his education if the application had failed. In his first term in high school, Munene scored an A plain. He admitted his love for comedy, particularly MC Tricky, relay race and handball game.
” Find your motivation, let it be that one thing that pushes you to work hard in life,” he urges.