Towards the end of 2018, the Education Officers at Save The Elephants, traversed through the region to identify the most needy and bright students, that lacked the financial means to enroll to high school. The interview exercise saw the team visit regions that lie within the elephant corridors and the wider elephant rangelands of Samburu and Isiolo Counties.
With over 100 applications to consider for the available 20 scholarships, the team conducted thorough background checks on the students, to ascertain that we got the most-deserving scholars. There were emotional moments as the students narrated their adversities in their homes, and through their school life. We shared in their pain and similarly, felt encouraged by their motivation to persevere and put effort in the face of adversities.
One of the applicants, and now an Elephant Scholar, has had a turbulent childhood from fighting for her right to education, to staying away from her family in search for education. Meet Florence who was born in Raap village in Oldonyiro, an important elephant corridor, which connects the Samburu-Laikipia ecosystems. Born of an aged father in a polygamous family, she grew up in a large family of eleven siblings. It has been a daily struggle for her parents to provide for the large family, as they make a living by doing menial jobs, after their few herds of livestock were wiped off by the past drought that hit the area.
At nine years old, her father proposed that she would get married and he went ahead to arrange a marriage for her. Having not pursued education at any level, Florence’s parents did not see the need why they would spend so much time and their meager resources on educating a girl, who would otherwise be a source of wealth for them through marriage. Even at such a young age, Florence was very courageous and motivated to pursue her dreams, which at the time was to get education. She ran away to the nearby Oldonyiro Catholic Mission, which offered a safe haven within the Children’s Village. For about four years, she did not go home for fear that her father would try to marry her off, like he had proposed several years back. However, in a somewhat confidential manner, her mother made an effort to see her often, not letting the father aware of her visits to the Children’s Village. After five years of living in the Catholic Mission, Florence sat for her final Primary School Examination and emerged among the top girls in her school, with 336 marks out 500. This is when she got this life-changing opportunity of full sponsorship in a boarding high school, that will enable her to fully focus on her studies for the next four years, without any financial constraints.
Save The Elephants and Elephant Watch Safaris, through the Elephant Scholarship Programme, has given hope to Florence and 19 other needy, vulnerable and motivated students, who have been enrolled in different high schools across Kenya. Our support for these students has been made possible by the amazing individuals and organisations, which have given very generously to take students to school. We are grateful to all donors, who have enabled us to give these students the hope for a better future, as we continue building an army of wildlife warriors across the Northern Kenya landscape.