Maureen Bii, Kenya

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FAWE Regional Secretariat
FAWE House
Chania Avenue, Off Wood Avenue
PO Box 21394-00505
Ngong Road
Telephone: +254 20 387 3131 / 387 3351
Fax: +254 20 3874150

Maureen BiiMy story is a tale of twists and turns.

When I sit down and recall my journey, I could not have anticipated, given my childhood which was full of hardships, that I today would be among those who can garner the courage to stare poverty straight in the face and say, enough.

As an Ogiek girl child and coming from a poor background, accessing education was the last thing on my and everyone's mind but, unsurprisingly, marriage was a welcome practice that everyone would gladly accept in exchange for a handful of honey.

I saw hope in education and despite the cultural logs placed in my way, I was determined to go all the way.

My battle to secure an education right from primary to Masters Level would not have been possible without sponsorship. I sought support from my sponsors FAWE, when I was in the verge of dropping and after noting my performance in school and the zeal to finish ,they came to my rescue and  supported me through Kabarak University where I pursued a degree in Commerce. And it is this education which would later change my life from poverty to the person I am today.

I would like to thank Mrs Selina Sonou who was my first point of contact and listened to me when I went to FAWE offices. Her zeal to support my course saw her report my case to the board. She was so resourceful and gave me hope.

My special thanks also goes to Hendrina Doroba who when she was informed about me, she called and sought to know me better and did a follow up on my school and speedily came to my rescue. If the two had not come my way I would not be where I am today. They touched my heart in a special way. My mother could not have been able to pay for my degree program at Kabarak. I do thank all my sponsors for their immense support.

Biggest problem we have is that not many of my folks can access scholarships like I did. It is the dire condition of the majority of my community members that drives my ambition after school to ensure that we liberate our people, especially the youth, to embrace education for a sustainable future because our community is highly illiterate and prone to exploitation.

Importantly, even amongst us, there are detrimental cultural practices that have prevented us from discovering our full potential. For instance, circumcision is still the order of the day, which every girl must pass through to be accepted and valued in the community.

For this reason, we have started running a project dubbed Hope and beyond, which focuses on lending a hand to help another one i.e women and youth empowerment programmes. Its aim is to support someone to ensure that they are economically empowered; boys and girls are able to go to school by providing access to facilities like sanitary towels, mentorship and access to information on scholarship opportunities etc. Women are able to weave baskets, necklaces and hairbands for sale. Young girls are able to sell hairbands during holidays and earn pocket money so they can buy sanitary towels as well as some small shopping.

It is a collective responsibility to get our communities out of abject poverty.

I call for support from all over the world to join hands with the Ogiek community to help their children access education.


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