LYDIA’S STORY – ALL BECAUSE OF A FEW CAKES!
During our recent trip to Kenya we were taken to meet Lydia who is a diploma student sponsored by Oliver and Learn. Not sure if anyone remembers her but the money raised to help fund her education came from the recent Halloween bake sale run across all our offices.
Until I met Lydia she was just a name in an email that meant we made cakes and the sceptical part of me wondered if she was actually real. And did she really need our help? Well, I am very privileged to have now met her, her parents and extended family and she is indeed very real.
Lydia’s story is inspiring, it isn’t one of poverty, it is one of sheer determination. Everything she has, and will, achieve in life is down to that. She just needed someone to give her the helping hand.
She lives in a very humble homestead with her extended family which is no more than a few mud huts, goats, chickens and lots of smiles.
She did so well at during her time at government funded primary school her family found a way of paying secondary fees. However, the drought then struck Meru County and her family needed her to stay at home and farm the land. At first she tried to stay in school and farm but the funds for education finally ran out as did her education. The amazing thing about Lydia is, despite being out of school for almost five years, she never gave up and was determined to finish. She tried to find many different ways of raising the funding, eventually contacted Oliver and Learn via Friends of Kianjai, was interviewed by Peter who works for us on the ground and then placed in our education programme.
Meeting her and her family really gave me a deeper understanding of what secondary education means to communities. We were greeted by the whole family who quickly went and got their Sunday best on when they saw us arrive including princess dresses for the babies! We were lucky enough to spend time with them all while Lydia proudly showed off her recent exam results. For people who have so little, they gave us so much. Food, drink and yes the infamous live chicken (who I do hope is still happy in the yard where we left him).
It is quite amazing to think that baking a few cakes, dressing up and generally having a bit of a laugh in the offices can result in something so life changing. Lydia is clearly a very bright and determined person who, with the right support, I am sure will go on to help change things for not only herself but also her family and wider community. And all it cost us was a few cakes.
Make a difference
Each year, Oliver & Learn sponsors students from 11 schools in the rural Kianjai area of Kenya. We help to pay for school fees, books and uniforms – all of the vital things that keep these secondary students in school. Many of these students are orphans. Without this support, they would have to drop out of school and work in subsistence jobs to survive. School fees are only £135 per year, but to many, this is simply unaffordable.
Help Winifred set up her business
We’ve helped students like Winifred set up a business on graduating, by providing them with the tools of their trade. This donation of a sewing machine or plumbing equipment can make a huge difference, whether it’s to young people just starting out in their working lives, or to their family.
Help the community improve their farming techniques
The Kianjai region is subject to regular droughts. This has a disasterous impact on the local community. To improve drought resiliency, a community teaching farm is being developed. The farm will teach techniques for selecting and planting drought resistant crops and encourage the community to develop greater yeilding crops.