Among the Elephants Blog
October 23, 2017
By Connie Makandi, Conservation Education Officer
Since its inception in 2001, the Save the Elephants and Elephant Watch Safaris (STE/EWS) Scholarship Program has enabled over 150 students to get high school education. Among these students, over 99% have successfully graduated from high school and joined various institutions of higher learning before serving their communities in various capacities. Even in the quest to give them a bright future, the Elephant Scholarship Programme has not been in a position to support them all to further pursue college education. However, we are proud to have supported about 30% of all our high school graduates to achieve their dreams.
In 2016, five Elephant Scholars successfully graduated from high school after four years of intensive learning and mentorship from the STE/EWS Education Programme team. Two out of this highly motivated group of scholars, Mellissa Lolongwaso and Martin Duncan Lemaramba have now joined university and received a government subsidy that partially covers the cost of tuition fees. With only funds enough to cater for one student, we chose to sponsor Martin, who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Education, majoring in Mathematics and Geography at Moi University. His inspiration to train as a teacher began in high school, but was further nurtured during his gap-year teaching internship facilitated by STE/EWS. Once he graduates, we hope that Martin will come back to Samburu as an empowered teacher, ready to nurture young minds.
As the Elephant Scholarship Program, we endeavor to not only see our alumni get good grades, but also to foster their growth as all-round individuals. One of the girls who has embodied this kind of growth is Mellissa. The once timid girl has grown in confidence and leadership, with a desire to promote sustainable business in her future career. Mellissa, who just like Martin took part in a teaching-internship, has chosen to pursue her passion by enrolling for an undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance at Machakos University. With so much gratitude for the support and mentorship that was provided all through high school, she highlights that in addition to the incredible experience, the gap-year internship was an opportunity to develop her networking skills.
As happy as we are to see these students graduate from high school, getting them to achieve the very crucial university education is still a major challenge. This leads us to limit the opportunities to only those pursuing conservation-related careers or those whose careers will be most impactful in Northern Kenya. For years, we have had to let several scholars go due to lack of funding. We are constantly reminded and are full aware of the tough reality this presents to them (the challenge and inability to secure meaningful employment without tertiary education). This is the situation that Lmatini Lemantile has had to face. On graduating successfully from high school with a grade C, Lmatini appealed for our help to enable him pursue his dream of being a conservationist at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute. Unfortunately, with limited resources on our hands, we were unable to take on this mantle. Lmantini has since gone back home and has been herding his father’s few cattle, and working for his neighbours to eke a living.
We are aware that this is not his place in society. With his knowledge and very high motivation to serve his community and, most especially, to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity, we believe that with college education, he would greatly contribute to the growth of Samburu County. It is in this regard, that we kindly appeal for support to help Lmatini achieve his dream and provide him with an opportunity to commit his life to protecting the beauty and rich biodiversity of Northern Kenya. If you would like to support Lmatini Lemantile in his quest to get a Diploma in Wildlife Management, kindly reach out to us through our email.