Emily Bakhita: Bringing social change in Rarieda
For the 4th year B.Com finalist, one can indeed profess like Maya Angelou, One must know not just how to accept a gift, but with what grace to share it. The founder and brains behind an NGO, Scars to Stars in KOnyango Village, Rarieda Constituency, Siaya County seeks to empower and enable young, bright needy students from her home area; she reckons this is her way of creating positive social impact and giving back to society.
Her life has been challenging and fraught with ups and downs. She lost her mother at the tender age of 8 years leaving her father and a slightly older sister to fend for her 5 siblings. Back then, she attended the nearby Raliew Primary School, putting her best efforts in education. This good performance was noticed by her uncle Fr. Richard, who was then the priest in charge of Ramba Parish in Siaya, and he sponsored her to Mbaga Boarding Primary school, an opportunity that was invaluable; it landed her a golden chance to concentrate on her studies and gave her a chance to leave her local village environment, hopefully for the better.
Brilliant student that she was, Emily Bakhita embraced this opportunity. In Standard 8, she emerged a winner not just at the school level, but also ranked best pupil in Siaya District. Indeed lady luck was smiling down on her; her sterling performance attracted another uncle who sponsored her, this time to a national school many counties away, Mary Hill Girls High School, Thika. Her uncle Paul paid her fees and off she went.
While in Mary Hill, she remembers feeling inferior to other pupils from more privileged backgrounds, she thought that those from better-off families definitely had a better chance in life. She attempted to integrate into school life, joined handball and music festivals, but also applied her efforts to her studies. Her results did not disappoint.
After KCSE, Emily learnt of Strathmore University through the face book exchanges with a friend. Though a private university, she still sought the assistance of her uncle Paul, who agreed to pay for her school fees here at Strathmore. She then joined Strathmore as a B.Com student, with CPA studies in the evenings.
My uncle, Paul has been the best gift God has given me…says Emily; I cant measure what he has done for me. I attribute who I am today to him. This is why I would want to someone else, less privileged like me, to say these exact words about a donor as I say about my uncle.
It was during the holidays, while looking for a job that would give her some pocket money, that she started talking to Prof. David Sperling, and shared with him her idea of giving back to her community, by assisting bright yet needy students like herself.
He encouraged her to form a group, register it legally, making it easier to manage it as well as fundraise. She did just that. Initially, she identified 12 members of various ages, some orphaned, others just very poor, but all of them united by a desire to succeed in education and exploit their potential and get out of a cycle of poverty. This group, Scars to Stars a name that denotes that though one has scars, they have the potential to shine, now has 33 members. It has so far raised funds, through the assistance of Prof. Sperling and others, enough for 6 members from the group to sponsor them in various institutions of learning.
Propelled by this initial success, Emily Bakhita realises that indeed one can be an agent of change, it doesnt take a stranger, and you dont have to be wealthy to make a difference in ones sphere of influence. It takes an idea, a conviction, passion and a will to follow through. She now seeks to, raise funds for other members of the Scars to Stars group through the linkages so far, Prof. Sperling, her sponsors, her own relatives and even Strathmore Community Outreach Program of which she is an active member.
Any donations that one is willing to give for this initiative can be channelled through COP office.
We congratulate Emily Bakhita for this initiative and encourage SU community, students and staff to assist her in raising funds for this.