Biodiversity,  Education,  Forest Communities,  Profile,  Women

Meet Rehema, a Student Who Never Gave Up On Her Education

Born in 1990 in Kale village in the Marungu area, Rehema never knew what her future held. At the very best, she was certain that she would end up growing old in her rural village. Rehema Mwaka is the second born in a family of four. Her parents are both subsistence farmers in Kale village. She joined Kale primary school in 1997 but because of the extreme poverty in her family, she was forced to dropped out for 2 terms due to of lack of school uniforms and tuition funds. However, she went back to school in the 3rd term and managed to maintain top position in her class and even became the top performing girl in her region.

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With all this, Rehema had nothing to rejoice about because she knew her family did not have the financial means to send her to secondary school. Despite receiving an acceptance letter from Alliance Girls High School, Rehema continued with her daily chores at home; assisting her mother in the shamba, fetching water and firewood. She also made and sold sisal ropes which was her only source of income to meet her personal needs.

But good news came her way one afternoon while she was working at home. Wildlife Works Kasigau REDD+ Project was offering sponsorship to needy but bright students in the Marungu area through the KELIMU Trust program. Without a moment to waste, she arrived at Wildlife Works with her primary school teachers but unfortunately, they had missed the deadline. She was devastated.

Alice Owen, former Wildlife Works manager and KELIMU Trust founder, could not let the future of this girl be wasted. She offered to pay for Rehema’s first year of schooling with her wedding funds as she looked for future sponsors. She finally joined form one at Alliance and life took a turn. In form 2, she received a full sponsorship from KELIMU trust, which assured Rehema could stay in school.

Life was not all that smooth in Alliance for her. Transitioning from a small village into an urban setting had its many challenges. She felt naïve to her new environment and faced stiff competition from other students who had come from different parts of the country.

She persevered and completed school in 2008 with B+ average. She took a job as a teacher at a Marungu secondary school in 2009-2010 before joining Moi University to pursue a bachelor of science in environmental science, again through the support of KELIMU Trust.

University life had many challenges but Rehema is focused on achieving her goals. Her family background motivated her to always work hard so that she could help lift her family out of poverty.

During the long holidays, Rehema and other sponsored students would volunteer at Wildlife Works to learn about environmental conservation. It was with Wildlife Works that she developed her interest in pursuing an environmental career at University. She graduated in 2014 with a degree in environmental science and is now back as a volunteer with Wildlife Works.

Her focus in the near future is to transform the lives of young girls in her village by educating them on importance of going to school to acquire knowledge and broaden their mind to achieve their goals. We are proud to have Rehema as a shining example in our community.

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