To many students who are set to join Form One, Friday might have just been just a normal day of last minute shopping; but for the 2000 young scholars seated at the Safaricom International Sports Centre Kasarani on Friday morning, this day would be nothing short of extraordinary.
These 2000 students, joined by their parents and guardians eagerly awaited for the commencement of the 2016 Wings to Fly programme that would see these students join secondary school despite the various financial constraints they face.
The Wings to Fly programme which is now in its sixth year, is an initiative of the Equity Group Foundation in partnership with the MasterCard foundation to support secondary education for bright but needy students in the country. The programme offers extensive support for the students through provision of tuition fees, accommodation, uniforms, shopping, pocket money and transport to and from school during their four years of secondary education. The programme not only seeks to provide financial support, but also to develop leadership qualities through their leadership, mentorship and social transformation programmes.
What stands out most for these scholars is not just the financial aspect of the programme, but the power of opportunity. The opportunity that they have been given to change the course of their lives. The power to change their destiny. They have been given the power of transformation and seated across the arena were numerous testimonies of transformation.
The future of young Cheruto seemed bleaker with each passing minute. At the age of nine, the family of Vanesser Cheruto was ready to give her off as a child bride. After escaping the involuntary marriage with the help of the District Commissioner and having recovered from the ordeal, she concentrated on her studies scoring 357 marks in her KCPE exams. The marks secured her a slot on the Wings to fly programme and she can now look forward to a bright career as she strives to become a surgeon.
Another tear-rendering story is that of Aurelia Atyang’. Her dream of pursuing her education was deferred for thirteen years. Having been able to gain a spot as one of the recipient scholars in the Wings to Fly programme in 2012, she had to leave her husband and children at home as she went to school. She hopes not only to be a mentor to those younger than her in class, but also to her children even as she plans to be a children’s lawyer in future. This is just but another story of hope.
Speaking during the occasion, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta – who presided over the ceremony, commended the equity group foundation for their tremendous progress thus far. So far the total numbers of scholarships offered to date are 12,377 that entail 10,377 plus the 2,000 that will be offered this year. He even ordered for the establishment of a board of trustees to co-ordinate sponsors who are offering scholarships to the students.
He also appealed to development partners, organizations and individuals to combine efforts to support the Wings to Fly programme in order to actualize the educating 20,000 scholars in phase 2 of the programme.
The Wings to Fly programme is and continues to be a beacon of hope. With the rising application rate of students wanting to join the programme, the Equity Wings to Fly programme continues to testify of the tremendous possibility to nurture bright needy students to become selfless bold leaders in the community.