It’s dream come true as young Maasai woman graduates

Jane did not disappoint in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, attaining a B- grade. This enabled her to proceed to university, where once again ENAI Africa sponsored her education and living expenses

Excitement galore. Achievement beyond expectations. A victory for the girl child. Enormous sacrifices. Academic excellence. A hodgepodge of emotions ran through Jane Tikote Matayian as she celebrated her graduation from Mount Kenya University on November 5.

“Life brings what we don’t expect, but without giving up it will end well,” Jane says thoughtfully of her struggle to obtain a good education. Indeed, it has ended well for her, having reached the climax of her academic journey by acquiring a well-earned Bachelor of Education (Arts) degree from the Meru-based Kenya Methodist University, where she studied History and Kiswahili as her teaching subjects.

Enai Africa Executive Director Dr Lanoi Parmuat, accompanied by the project officer on social entrepreneurship Catherine Makena during Tikote’s graduation celebration in Olobelibel, Dalalekutuk. Photos| Peter Mungai

Yet, the celebrations that brought joy to her family and friends that sunny Saturday would not have been possible without the support of ENAI Africa, a local non-governmental organization that has been instrumental in empowering the local community through various initiatives.

Jane started her early pre-primary education at Piliwa Primary School, at a time when she was living with her grandparents, later moving to Sunbell Junior Academy. After scoring 331 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations — an impressive achievement in her rural Olobelibel home in Kajiado Central where she was the leading girl in the location — Jane proceeded in 2015 to Moi Girls High School, Isinya, for her high school education.

Despite the joy of making it to a national school, life was tough and marked by frequent absenteeism owing to problems raising the required school fees. As the years went by, so did the huge outstanding fee balance keep growing.

While her father had sold some cows to enable her join Form 1, a drought later led to the deaths of many of the family’s cattle. “We are seven siblings in our family and everyone needs to be educated. Beginning from Form 2, whenever students with fees balances were sent home, I would be among them,” Jane recalls painfully.

There was a major drought in 2017, when Jane was in Form 3. Her parents constantly begged the school to allow her to study as they tried to raise money for school fees. What they paid was more often than not negligible given the huge outstanding balance, but the school would listen and compassionately allow her to continue with her studies.

On hearing about her plight, ENAI Africa stepped in to help while she was in Form 3, clearing her outstanding fee arrears and taking care of her education for the remaining duration of her secondary school studies.

Jane did not disappoint in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, attaining a B- grade. This enabled her to proceed to university, where once again ENAI Africa sponsored her education and living expenses.

Jane was lucky to be one of only two students sponsored by the NGO, the other one being a girl who is currently in Form 4, Highness Kamende. Jane is now engaged by ENAI Africa as a volunteer, a role she cherishes as it gives her an opportunity to extend help to other disadvantaged women and girls in her community.

In its education programme, the NGO’s Tamatisha initiative assists young girls to avoid teenage pregnancies, while helping teenage mothers to return to school.

“When we identify needy students, we use the resources currently available to step in,” said Catherine Makena, ENAI Africa’s project officer on social entrepreneurship. “We work hand-in-hand with the county governments in five counties to curb teenage pregnancies. We engage in advocacy with people in government and local communities to find solutions.”

Apart from its education programme, ENAI Africa is also active in the areas of social entrepreneurship; gender and development; environment and natural resources; health; food security and livestock development; democracy and governance; and indigenous people’s rights.

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