Education scholarships give ‘wings’ to two refugees dreaming of becoming doctors
For the third year running, refugees have been awarded the ‘Wings to Fly’ scholarships to pursue secondary education.
Madhieu and Jaseline, the two refugees that received Wings to Fly secondary education scholarship in 2020. they are among the 1,125 successful applicants. © UNHCR/Caroline Opile
Jaseline Nitanga busks in the sun briefly, perhaps to embrace the much-needed warmth in an ordinarily chilly Friday morning. The 16-year-old Rwandese girl was born and raised in Kakuma camp. Born to a Rwandese father and Burundian mother, the third born in a family of three girls attended Luma Academy in Kakuma town and emerged the best student in primary education examinations in her school with 387 out of 500 marks.
Jaseline was among the 1,125 scholars that were commissioned on Friday 3 January 2020 for the Wings to Fly secondary school education scholarship, sponsored by Equity Bank group in partnership with Mastercard Foundation and KfW Development Bank.
“It was a surprise to get the scholarship,” Jaseline says. “I therefore want to study and help my family.”
Jaseline explains that initially she wanted to be a lawyer but realized that she does not have the gift of the gab and the confidence for public speaking, hence she decided to be a doctor.
“I aspire to be a doctor, because the job does not require speaking in public, a soft spoken Jaseline says.
For the third year running, refugees have been given slots for secondary education scholarship
The soft spoken Jaseline narrates the journey to stardom as having been challenging and rough, but she persevered for the sake of good grades and a better future for herself and her ailing mother.
“I want to encourage young people not to give up, my story was not that good, but I made it, “ She adds. “When we sit for the secondary education exams in 2023, I want to score a straight A in the final exam and make it to university.”
As Jaseline walks back to the Kenyatta University Amphitheatre for the official commissioning ceremony, Madhieu Akol Bol, another refugee from Kakuma and recipient of the same scholarship waits in queue for an interview with one of the national media stations. Having scored 400 marks out of a possible 500 marks, 13-year-old Madhieu was the best student in Turkana West and among the one percent who scored 400 marks and above in Kenya. That, and the fact that he is a refugee, made his story appealing to the media.
“When I applied for this scholarship, I was not sure of getting it, but God has granted me the chance for full secondary school scholarship, and I will give it my very best” says the third born in a family of four children.”
Madhieu arrived in Kenya in 2014 at the age of seven having fled conflict from South Sudan. He was enrolled in Kadugli primary school in Kakuma camp. Madhieu explains that the crowded classes and limited number of school books did not dampen his spirits. He notes that that hard work was necessary to excel in primary exams. Madhieu says he is the first one in his family to complete primary school, his siblings in South Sudan have not been that fortunate.
I want to be a doctor so that I can help many people
“I want to be a doctor so that I can help many people because a well-trained doctor can treat the whole nation, I am confident that with the Equity Bank scholarship, I can achieve that dream,” he adds.
According to the Equity Bank Group Managing Director, Dr. James Mwangi, “Wings to Fly provides a full secondary education cycle scholarship, mentorship and leadership trainings. Upon graduation from secondary education, internship opportunities are availed to scholars who excel.”
For Madhieu and Jaseline, receiving the secondary school scholarship is no mean feat. Out of the 25,000 children that applied for the scholarship, only 1,125 were selected for the 2020 cohort. In Turkana West Sub – County, eight applicants were selected; two refugees and six children from the host community.
Mohamed Hure, the UNHCR Associate Education Officer and a member of the selection board in Turkana West where Kakuma refugee camp is situated, who was also present at the event, expressed gratitude to Equity Bank for extending this incredible opportunity to refugee children.
“This gesture underlies the inclusive approach that UNHCR is seeking to achieve both with Government and the private sector as outlined in the Global Compact for Refugees.”
Hure notes, “For the third year running, refugees have been given slots for secondary education scholarship. Since 2018, eight refugees from Kakuma have benefitted from the scholarship.”
With support from Ministry of Education and working closely with Equity Bank, the two refugees will be admitted to public national secondary schools to begin their four year of academic journey.