Empowering The Future: Save The Elephants Scholarship Program


Desmond Kukubo, Conservation Education Officer

Date Published

This year, Samburu County is celebrating with high leaps and chirps of joy: we have emerged as the top county in Kenya’s national exams! On the shoulders of her teachers and peers sits Monica Lesuyai. After four years of tireless work, Monica has emerged 6th place in the entire Samburu County! All over the country, Monica’s name has spread, as she was actually listed among the top in the national newspapers.

Monica Lesuyai is our shining star. This bright-eyed young girl walked into the STE Scholarship Program in 2009, from a humble family in Wamba. She was generously sponsored by The Fred B. Snite Foundation and immediately captured our attention by topping her class in the first term; her first step to achieving her dream of becoming a lawyer. She had never anticipated she would be the top girl in the top county in the nation!

What started as an idea of bringing education opportunties to struggling students from nomadic backgrounds has blossomed into a program filled with skilled, motivated students top in the country and who are now ready to take their place as custodians of their environment. Through thirteen years of generous support from far and wide, the children who reside in elephant habitats around the Samburu and Buffalo Spring’s National Reserves have been awarded scholarships through our Program and have matured into not just “grown ups”; but students like Monica are equipped with the three selfs: self discipline, self sufficiency and self confidence.

Like Benjamin Loloju who went before her, Monica leaves behind a trail of hope; a new spark in many that they too can walk the path to success. Benjamin made it to the top 100 students in the country in the 2009 exams, and is currently doing Geospatial Engineering, thinking up ways to navigate and protect his amazing ecosystem. Following closely in his footsteps is Sylvester Odiemo, who was inspired to take the same course. Our persistent efforts to mould this young man into a leading example for his community are still in the works as we support him for the next five years. All this would not be possible without Mrs. Jamie Martin who has been a pillar in mentoring Sylvester from afar.

These amazing exemplary students are leading the way for many, many others. After a rigorous month of interviews conducted in the furthest flung areas of Samburu, followed by equally taxing vetting, I embarked on a journey to put our new stock of Form Ones into high school.

Six students from different areas of the park and conservancies were to be taken to their various destinations to experience their first taste of high school. They gained admission to Kenya High School, Lenana School, Maralal High School, Kisima Girls Secondary School and St Anne’s Secondary School, Lioki, all of which are prestigious and high performance schools countrywide.

As ever, we will keep going with our model of mentorship which has proved a raving success: equipping them with all that pertains to school work and play; writing letters of encouragement to them every term along with logistical support; and keeping communication between sponsors and students going.

We’ll be taking our graduate students into our internship program now, which will lead them into teaching and conservation work in camp. As we do, we will also keep a look out for sponsors for these amazing young people, who have all done commendably well! Please do drop us a line if you want to take Monica and her counterparts to the next level of excellence!