Refugee Students at M-Pesa Foundation Academy hone their skills in entrepreneurship, leadership and sports
“MPESA Foundation Academy has excellent facilities and a superb philosophy of inclusion and respect for diversity.”
The six refugee students, the first ever to join the MPESA Foundation Academy owned by telecommunications company, Safaricom, pose with the Chairman of MPESA foundation Michael Joseph during the official opening of institution presided over by H.E the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta. ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile
16 year old Reech Deng Maketh originally from South Sudan, is one of the six refugee students admitted to the M-Pesa Foundation Academy that was established in 2016 and officially opened by the President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, on Wednesday, 24 October 2018.
The Mpesa Foundation Academy which is owned by the telecommunications company, Safaricom, supports economically disadvantaged students with demonstrated leadership potential from all the 47 counties in Kenya. This year, the Academy accorded UNHCR the status of a county and for the first time admitted six refugees to the institution.
This is a unique model that supports refugee students financially, academically and socially. It is a significant step towards inclusion and diversity including increased private sector engagement in line with CRRF and global responsibility sharing.
According to the UNHCR’s report, Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis, nearly two thirds of refugee children who go to primary school do not make it to secondary school.
The feeling of inclusion and diversity is shared by all the six students
The feeling of inclusion and diversity is shared by all the six students, who are excited at the privilege of being in a technology savvy school where innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership form the core pillars of the institution.
Although Deng’s dream when he joined the school was to become a doctor, the first born in a family of four siblings admitted that he is an average student in academics, but is very good in entrepreneurship and basketball.
“I discovered that I am good at basketball and I would love to one day play for the American National Basketball League,” he says. “I have also engaged in an agricultural enterprise where I am growing broccoli and selling to the school.”
Deng hopes that at the end of his four years at the Academy, he will have made enough money to support another needy child in Kakuma refugee camp.
“I discovered that I am good at basketball and I would love to one day play for the American National Basketball League,”
Cynthia Awamahoro from Burundi is grateful for the privilege to access secondary school education. The soft spoken Cynthia has already been awarded different gifts for her leadership skills at the school. She has also learnt how to swim and play hockey.
“I want to help young people like me to be leaders in their own communities and encourage them to start businesses and be self-reliant,” Cynthia remarks.
“It is the only way refugees can live dignified lives”
Gieu Ayiik Ajak, originally from South Sudan continues to dream big. He not only wants to be a doctor, but wants to specialize in stem science, and be innovative in the medical field. He is in the leadership program and thrives in his role as the resource coordinator for his class.
He also wants want to concentrate in playing hockey when the schools open so that his team can win big in the national secondary schools championship.
“I want to specialize in stem science, and be innovative in the medical field”
14 year old, Alith Dunay Alith notes that he has made good friends and learnt new techniques in swimming. “My only swimming experience before joining the M-Pesa Foundation Academy was in River Nile,” Alith says amid laughter. He has also joined the football academy and looks forward to the new term when schools reopens in January 2019.
With a broad smile, Chani Osman Kocha from Sudan says, “I like relating with different cultures and backgrounds. During these holidays, I want to reach out to youth in the camp and encourage them to give back to the society.”
Cyiza Yvette Mutoni, originally from Congo, is a multi talented student. English is her favorite subject and she dreams of becoming a lawyer. Yvette says she has had a wonderful experience interacting with various students from the 47 counties and has a mental picture of how each county looks like. She plays the guitar, has learnt swimming, plays volleyball and is part of the cuisine club that specializes in baking and selling the products at the school. “I have learnt to give back to the society,” a jovial Yvette says. She notes that the school has made her feel at home, “there is no discrimination and segregation, we are one people.”
Cyiza Yvette Mutoni, originally from Congo, is a multi talented student. She plays the guitar, has learnt swimming, plays volleyball and is part of the cuisine club that specializes in baking and selling the products at the school
14 year old, Alith Dunay Alith has made friends and learnt new techniques in swimming. , “My only swimming experience before joining the M-Pesa Foundation Academy was in River Nile.”
Chani Osman Kocha from Sudan says, “I like relating with different cultures and backgrounds."
His Excellency the President, Hon Uhuru Kenyatta giving his key note speech at the official opening of MPESA Foundation Academy on Wednesday 24 October, 2018 at the institution located in Mangu, Kiambu County.
Students perform a Turkana traditional dance during the official opening of the academy that was presided over by the president of Kenya, H.E Hon Uhuru Kenyatta on 24 October, 2018.
Yvette (L) and Cynthia chat at the institutions resource center that is equipped with books and computers to facilitate their studies. The two girls met on admission in January 2018 and have become good friends.
In his speech, the President thanked the Foundation for giving hope and a future to young people that come from less privileged backgrounds. And to the students H.E. Kenyatta said, “You all have different talents. Some are gifted in academics and while others have different skills. Just do your best and be people of integrity. Study diligently and plan appropriately but more importantly, put God first.”
The chairman of M-Pesa Foundation, Mr. Michael Joseph reiterated, “The Foundation is leading the way in innovation and changing lives for the future. As a school, we are driven by leadership, integrity and a strong desire to serve as we prepare the youth to be future leaders.”
The UNHCR Kenya Representative, Raouf Mazou who also attended the function at the academy concludes, “MPESA Foundation Academy has excellent facilities and a superb philosophy of inclusion and respect for diversity.