Fair dreams by poor children to be realized thanks to Fairtrade
For a student at Kapsoo girl’s secondary school in Nandi hills, a dormitory is not just a place to sleep. It is a special place to avoid defilement, bad weather and pollution from kerosene tin lamps.
Nancy Sugut a form three student, dreams to be an engineer when she completes her secondary school education. Her dream would be in vain if it was not for the tea growers of Sireet Out growers Empowerment farmers.
As Nancy narrates, “I used to walk from school to home late in the evening, the distance was long. Old boys and men kept disturbing me wanting to rape me, and I could reach home very late”, says Nancy seated on her bed inside the dormitory.
The weather in the region, which is great for tea growing, is ever rainy and with poor roads, the students have to get wet and muddy as they travel on foot. Their school uniforms would be soiled each day.
Beatrice Chepkoril, says at home she lacked ample time to concentrate on her studies and it was hard for her to complete home work.
“There was always lack of kerosene at home, and studying was a problem.” She reflects.
The smoke produced by the kerosene tin lamps is dangerous to the health of many people and for such girls, achieving their educational dreams would be a miracle.
“I thank Fairtrade for building this dormitory. Here I can study well, I sleep at ten and wake up at five to go to class for preps. The lights are always in class and I have no worries”, says Beatrice.
The dorm has a capacity of hosting around 90 students. The school Principal Mary Jelagat says since the dormitory was constructed, the population of the school has increased and hoping that more facilities will be needed to cater for the growing student population.
“Fairtrade also provides bursaries to the needy students, and this has made the school’s academic performance to improve greatly, explains Jelagat.
The Sireet OutGrowers Empowerment and Producers Company ltd, has provided education to several needy students and helped construct and renovate some schools from the poor communities.
According to Victor Biwott, the Manager of Sireet, there is needy students who are given full bursaries and those who are given half bursaries. The presence of many orphans in the area is due to HIV/AIDS which killed so many parents, leaving child headed families.
“There are families which cannot even afford two meals a day and for students from such families, we give them full bursaries”, says Paul Tiony, the Director of Sireet.
Viola Jepleting, is a second year computer science student at the University of Eldoret. She had dropped out of school in form three, before Sireet came to her rescue.
“They paid my school fees for form three and four, and when I passed the exams, they are now paying for my university degree,” she says.
According to Biwott, only one percent of children who start school proceed to university and 25 percent proceed to other tertiary colleges.
There are also disabled children who need special assistance. But the little premium earned, is not enough to serve all the community needs. The premium has to be divided into different other projects like safe drinking water, health facilities, environmental conservation, farmer education among others.
“The demands are increasing and the premiums are reducing. We ask our consumers to buy more tea so that we can give more back to the community.” Wilson Tuwei, Chairman of Sireet.
He says the launch of Fairtrade Eastern Africa, is a blessing in time, hoping that Kenyans will buy more products with the FAIRTRADE Mark.