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Poverty pushed me to sponsor needy students

By Milliam Murigi
Monday, January 6th, 2020
Ndungu Nyoro, founder of Affecto Foundation with colleagues Nelly Lasoi and Freshi Irungu. Photo/PD/ROGER NDEGWA
In summary

    Although he had participated in many scholarship projects, Ndung’u Nyoro did not know the levels of poverty until he started working as a shortlister for a local bank’s scholarship programme.

    He set up a foundation, Affecto to not only sponsor needy students but also keep those on verge of dropping out in school. 

    So far, the programme has 70 students, and plans are on the way to add 50 more in 2020, with a target of 400 yearly.

When Ndung’u Nyoro, founder Affecto Foundation, was selected by a local bank in 2017 to participate in shortlisting and selecting beneficiaries of its scholarship programme, he could not say no.

He had participated in charity programmes for long, so when the selection started he was ready to go. He was, however, not prepared for the deep and raw poverty he encountered when the project started. 

Part of his work was to visit applicants’ homes to assess the situation to know whether the applicants deserved the scholarship or not.

To him every case they listened to deserved that opportunity, due to limited slots, not all applicants were lucky.

Seeing parents and their children cry for that opportunity always broke his heart. Because of this, he vowed to do something to rescue those who weren’t lucky.

Lack of fees

“This is when I realised that to some, education is a right and to significant others, it is a privilege,” he said.

Pressed for a solution with no funds, he went to his online friends who used to fund his charity work before and engaged them for support. Surprisingly, they were on board.

He managed to collect enough money to offer scholarship to 35 students on the verge of dropping out of school for lack of fees.

The first lot came from those they had interviewed for the bank scholarship programme and a few who had been referred to him by friends.

To ensure he does it professionally on a credible platform, he registered the foundation in January 2018 to assist academically able students from poor families and disadvantaged communities access education by providing scholarships and other opportunities at the secondary school and tertiary level. He also brought onboard a few members.

The foundation is also registered in the United States as a non-profit to allow Kenyan diaspora community and friends of Kenya to take part in its initiatives.

“The foundation seeks to give support to academically able but needy students through award of academic scholarships, exchange programmes, mentorship, career guides, and psychosocial support regardless of religion, race, ethnic background or gender.

Our focus is the promotion of education as a fundamental human right,” Nyoro says.

Currently, it has 70 students under their education programme. They plan to add 50 more in 2020, with a long-term plan of supporting 400 students annually.

However, Nyoro says this is just a drop in the ocean, considering they cannot support the hundreds of applications they have been receiving because of limited funds.

Sustainable education

The foundation relies on people’s contributions for the success of their programmes. However, for sustainability purposes, they had a fundraising Gala dinner in November at Villa Rosa Kempinski and sold some merchandise to raise more money. The dinner was also a platform to create awareness and celebrate the team.  

“We want to have a self-sustaining education funds account to ensure that there is no given time our beneficiaries will be out of school because of lack of school fees,” Nyoro explains.

A branded hoodie goes for Sh3,000, a t-shirt goes for Sh1,000, polo shirt Sh2,000 and branded notebook Sh1,500. They are also looking for corporate institutions to partner with.

“We urge more people to come on board to help us become the bridge for the underprivileged. We want to restore their dignity for them to reach and live their dreams,” he adds.

Since all along he has been relying on online friends for help, he says it hasn’t been easy since some pull out along the way, others have trust issues and not many people know about Affecto Foundation’s mission and vision.

For the future, they want to establish a secondary school to hopefully increase transition of needy students from primary to secondary level in line with the government’s policy of 100 per cent transition.

Apart from that, they also plan to come up with a leadership and innovation centre, which will focus on nurturing students’ talents through rewarding creativity and innovations. Innovative products from the centre will be used to sustain the education programme.

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