When I volunteered for Youth Challenge International I never thought it would have such a long-term impact on my life. I was fortunate enough to volunteer from January to June of 2009 in Mombasa Kenya. While in Mombasa I volunteered at Kwacha Afrika, YCI’s local partner, organizing workshops, events, forums and community events, focusing on health promotion, leadership, human rights and equality.
While at Kwacha Afrika, I worked closely with many youth including, a 16 year old boy whose amazing dedication, hard work and passion for helping those around him always amazed me. After working with him for many weeks I began to understand the difficult circumstances he faced, orphaned and living with his older brother, barely able to afford 3 meals a day. He expressed many times how much he wanted to go back to school, but couldn’t return because his brother could not afford to send him.
I sent an email to my parents describing the boy’s situation and they quickly decided to send money so that he could return to school. During the following months in Kenya, Michael Kalu (our local officer) and myself began the paperwork to establish a scholarship fund for youth in Mombasa. Within my six months in Kenya we had received enough donations from friends and family back home to support 7 students in returning to school.
Upon returning to Canada, we began the application process to become a registered charity with Revenue Canada. In March we were approved and are now fully registered and fundraising to continue supporting the seven students currently in school, as well as accepting additional students each year.
The scholarship fund is intended to help youth who have no financial means of funding their education and provide them with the opportunity to pursue their educational goals. The scholarship fund also provides support by mentoring the youth in their pursuit of education.
Preference is given to those youth whose parent, or parents are deceased, or who do not live with, or gain financial support from their parents. Proof of parental income or of a guardian’s income is required as a determining factor of each applicant.
Once students have been accepted to receive a scholarship, our local program officer Michael, helps them select a suitable school and make all necessary arrangements. Because many of the students do not have any family members, Michael accompanies them to the school, helps buy school supplies and ensures they are settled. Our preference is to find boarding schools for all of our students. This ensures they have a safe place to live, access to three meals a day, access to water and no distractions from their school studies. Although tuition is more for boarding schools, we think it is worth the added cost!
So far we have managed to raise money simply through word of mouth and a large group of very supportive, caring friends and family. We always welcome donations and are constantly amazed by the generosity of those around us!
For more information check us out at:
- Jessie Gresley-Jones, YCI Youth Ambassador. Jessie volunteered on back-to-back YCI projects in Kenya during the Winter and Spring of 2009.
Want to learn what other YCI alumni are up to? Check out our blog’s Alumni Update category.