Top Refugee Students Receive Equity Bank Secondary Education Scholarship

“Our teacher told us, the fact that we are refugees does not mean that our dreams are dead.”

Warabek, Juk and Ayen Makuel at Kenyatta University in Nairobi during their commissioning as WingstoFly scholars. ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile

It’s a chilly Friday morning at Kenyatta University in the capital Nairobi. Students drawn from all parts of Kenya sing their hearts out in preparation for the commissioning for the Wings to Fly  scholarship.

A total of 1000 bright but needy and vulnerable students have congregated at Kenyatta University, on Friday 4 January, 2019 for the official commissioning ceremony presided over by Education Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohamed. The Programme a partnership between Equity Group and MasterCard Foundation, with support of other partners, offers comprehensive secondary school scholarships.

The scholarship is a dream come true for me, it’s an opportunity to achieve our dreams of studying and rebuild our countries in future

Among the scholars are three refugees from Kakuma camp: 16 year old Ayen Makuol, 17 year old Warabek Ayuel and 16 year old, Juk Mabior.  All of them scored more than 400 marks out of possible 500 in the just concluded Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), and have all been admitted to national schools.  Coincidentally, the three were born in Kenya even though their families are originally from South Sudan.

Meet the eloquent and bubbly Ayen Makuol who is an orphan and a former student at Angelina Jolie primary school, a girl’s boarding school in the refugee camp. She scored a mean grade of 405.

16 year old Ayen Makuol is one of the 3 refugee recipients of the @equitygroup #WingstoFly2019 secondary education scholarship in 2019. She scored 405 marks out of 500 marks. She attended primary school at Angelina Jolie Girls boarding primary school in #Kakuma refugee camp. She hopes to be an Architect in future. Every year, 1000 young people are admitted to the #WingstoFly education scholarship mainly from #Kenya. #WithRefugees #CRRF

Gepostet von UNHCR KENYA am Donnerstag, 3. Januar 2019


“I am excited that I got the Equity Bank’s Wings to Fly education scholarship.  I want to work hard so that I can get a chance to be an architectural engineer,” Ayen remarks.  “I want to go back to South Sudan in future and be able to design a bridge that would enable my country men to easily move across the River Nile, it covers a large part of South Sudan.”

The last born in a family of six siblings admits that she had to work hard for her to achieve the high grades and qualify for the scholarship that for many years has been a preserve of nationals only. She explains that her teachers in school encouraged them to dream of a better future, and affirmed that their refugee status did not mean that their dreams were dead.

“The scholarship is a dream come true for me, it’s an opportunity to achieve our dreams of studying and rebuild our countries in future,” an optimistic Ayen says.

“Our teacher told us, the fact that we are refugees does not mean that our dreams are dead.”

Warabek Ayuel cannot hide his excitement of being one of the beneficiaries of the scholarship.  The second born in a family of 8 siblings scored a mean grade of 410 marks while studying at Kadugli primary school in the camp.  Warabek points out that the teachers helped him to perform well despite learning in a crowded class of 213 students against the standard 45 students per class.


16 year old Warabek Ayuel scored a mean grade of 410 in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and qualified for the Wings to Fly scholarship that selects bright but needy students. He hopes to be a neurosurgeon in future. ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile


Ayen and Juk are happy to be commissioned for the Wings to Fly secondary education scholarship. ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile


Ayen Makuol (Turkana County) and originally from South Sudan with Kenyan students and beneficiaries of Wings to Fly Scholarship: Silas Kibet(Nandi county), Everline Wandia (Embu County), Sitiesha Abdul (Lamu County) and Meshack Melau (Kajiado County). ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile

“I am grateful to Equity Bank for enabling me to join secondary school, I look forward to being a neurosurgeon when I complete university studies,” an elated Warabek says. Thank you UNHCR for supporting me for a long time.”

A shy Juk Mabior is twice lucky, she was the best girl in Turkana West Sub County where Kakuma camp is located and also bagged the coveted Wings to Fly scholarship.  Her greatest joy is being a beneficiary of scholarship.  With a hearty laughter, she recalls that her only challenge while in school was having to wake up early to study and learning in a hot and dusty climate, a common characteristic of Kakuma camp.

Her prayer for Equity bank, “Thank you for your generosity, may God add you more.”

Inclusion of refugees in the Wings to Fly scholarship is a good example of integration in the national system

Ambassador Amina Mohamed, the Cabinet Secretary for Education who was also the chief guest rallied the scholars to focus on task that was ahead of them.  She emphasized that most of the people sitting in the auditorium including herself came from needy backgrounds, were sponsored through school, but worked hard to be who they are today.

“Make sure every single hour in your school will be used well, please don’t waste the kind of support you have received.  Remember, a day wasted will never be recovered. Focus on the delivery of your dreams and sharpening the calling you have responded to,” Ambassador Mohamed advised.

Students from Turkana West that are beneficiaries of the Wings to Fly secondary education scholarship pose with Equity Bank staff (second left), UNHCR Associate Education Officer(third right) and Xavier Project Education Officer (right). ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile

The Cabinet Secretary observed that Wings to Fly was one the most important partners complementing the Government of Kenya’s efforts in providing education.

While addressing the scholars, the Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Dr James Macharia encouraged the students to work hard to improve their quality of life.

“As you take this challenge, do not forget who you are and where you have come from – you have a mission to transform yourself, your family and more importantly, the community.”

The scholars will also receive mentorship and leadership training during their four-year secondary school journey to equip them with life skills that will transform them into leaders.

The 2018 class marks the tenth intake of the Wings to Fly program and brings the total beneficiaries to 16,168.   The Equity Bank hopes to increase the intake from 1000  to 3000 students annually in collaboration with Government of Kenya and partners that have supported the program this far.

“Inclusion of refugees in the Wings to Fly scholarship is a good example of integration in the national system, thereby realizing the dream of Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, “says Margaret Njayakio, the Assistant Education Officer, UNHCR who also attended the commissioning of the 2018 scholars.