Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, One Student at a Time

Nairobi, Kenya – Six hundred thousand people packed into one square mile. Rampant crime, prostitution and alcoholism permeate the narrow streets. Inhabitants struggle to find clean water and sanitation facilities, while access to medical care or a quality education remain a far off dream. This is the Mathare Valley Slum. In this harsh reality is where Dorothy was born, with countless obstacles in her path right from the start. 

Dorothy’s mother was a housewife, and her father worked as a gardener to support her family. Unable to pay for school fees, Dorothy’s parents enrolled her in an education program through Bright Hope’s partner, Mathare Community Outreach. Starting when she was just four years old, the program supported her throughout her studies so she could complete both primary and secondary school.

When Dorothy graduated from high school, the challenges didn’t end there. Unemployment rates in Kenya are extremely high and jobs are scarce. But Mathare Community Outreach was there for Dorothy again, and she received a vocational scholarship to attend Kenya Utalii College, the nation’s only hospitality school. Dorothy is now 21 years old and is studying Laundry and Housekeeping. In her course, the rate of employment after graduation is 90 percent. Dorothy has already completed her first year and is confident she will find a job once she graduates!

Dorothy received a vocational scholarship to study hospitality!

By graduating from university and finding a stable job, Dorothy will be able to leave the slum and break the cycle of poverty that entraps so many others. She could continue to push forward, never looking back. But, she wanted to find a way to thank the program that was so influential on getting her to where she is today.

Dorothy has motivated 35 fellow university students to return with her to the slum and serve at a local orphanage. They wash clothes for the children, share meals with them and also donate various items. Dorothy hopes to use her university degree to not only serve in the orphanage, but to motivate the children to achieve their dreams.

Dorothy and her classmates volunteer regularly in the slum to give back and encourage other students to do the same.

Grateful for the support she received over 17 years, Dorothy wants to do everything she can to help others along the same path. Dorothy’s story serves as an encouraging reminder that breaking the cycle of poverty can start with just one person, but has the opportunity to transform an entire community.

Read more stories from Bright Hope's Ally Connection newsletter.