There may be nothing more intimidating and miraculous than the opportunity to begin a life-changing experience.
For Carol and Velma, two of the newest students at the WISER school in Muhuru Bay, Kenya, the start of the new school year is the start of a new way of life: one in which they will find ways to escape poverty, and to help their families. Both girls have experienced hardship at home and in their studies, and upon reaching WISER, a sense of excitement and appreciation drives them to take control of their own education.
“It has always been a dream,” says Carol, “and know I am here. God brought me to WISER.” The sentiment is echoed by Velma who says, “without WISER, I would not know what to do. I would be waking up, planting, coming back… it would be so hard.”
It goes without saying that WISER is thrilled to have these young scholars on-campus, and so, we took the time to get to know more about their journeys and their dreams as they head into this new phase of life.
Before Carol came to WISER, she, like many girls in Muhuru, found herself constantly in and out of school due to a lack of school fees. This led her to fall behind in class materials, as she was sent home again and again to retrieve money she did not have.
“My fellow students went on with the syllabus, and I was way too slow. It was hard,” said Carol. To make things more challenging, Carol, with one brother already out of school to help her mother, was faced with the death of her father at a young age. Speaking of this time, she said, “my father was a backbone. He was encouraging us to live. My brother loved my father very much… it was terrible for my mom, she was always crying. I felt like committing suicide.”
It was just after this taxing time that Carol found a new start with WISER, and while she is nervous about beginning, she feels like she has already reached a goal: “I’m in a good life now, and I want my friends and family to be there too. I will help them.” Carol hopes to be an engineer or a lawyer, and says she believes law has the power to change Kenya’s direction for the better. When asked about what she hopes for her time at WISER, Carol thinks of what the school means for her and her family, saying “I want to go out and get a job, a successful one, and I can finally bring my siblings back to school.”
For a girl that spent so much time in an unsure state, WISER has provided the stability that enables Carol to learn and live while gaining the skills necessary to support the family she loves.
Like Carol, Velma spent a considerable amount of time being sent home by teachers to retrieve schools fees that she could not get from her parents, who are currently unemployed. Velma says her family has had some hard times, and that her sister, who did not finish school, is currently “married to a bad man- he is travelling with no money… all the time.”
Velma also struggled to balance her family life, lack of school fees, and her education, explaining that “my father was extremely sick. I was told to sit at home instead of attending school… the syllabus was running out of my hands. The teachers and students were ahead and I was struggling to catch up.” But finally at WISER, Velma feels a sense of belonging that she has been missing: “When I came to WISER, I was recognized. I was accepted.”
Particularly, Velma has fallen in love with the teaching style at WISER, saying that “the way they are teaching- it’s quality. In public schools, the teachers were always absent. Teachers here have passion. I know I’m going to pass because I feel ready with them.” Velma is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her aunt, who is a former WISER girl herself, and encouraged Velma to strive to be at WISER. Velma hopes to be a nurse, because she believes that helping patients is the perfect way to bring gratification into a life.
All in all, Velma is ready to take on the challenge of being a WISER girl, and says that, although she has only been in school a short time, she is impressed at the school she is now a part of: “they are treating me well, they give me everything I want. People always know what they are doing here at WISER.”