2023 04 25 | Host: Eric Gombrich | Emily Bakhita Akoth - Rise to Shine Education Foundation & Rotary Club of Kisumu Winam in Kenya

This morning we were privileged to be joined via Google Meet by Emily Bakhita Akoth, founder of the Rise to Shine Education Foundation (RTSEF) and a fellow Rotarian from the Kisumu Winam Rotary club in Kenya.

Rise to Shine Education foundation seeks to empower and enable young, bright needy students from the western region of Kenya. The RTSEF is an NGO formerly operating as a CBO (community based organization) called Scars to Stars.

Emily provided us a brief background of the area as a fishing community with very high rates of poverty. Children, and girls in particular, face limited opportunities for freedom and prosperity as they are frequently trapped in the cycle of poverty. This includes young women being thrust into marriage as a means for their families to raise money from potential husbands, as well as trading sex for fish.

Emily shared her storied experience of having been fortunate enough to obtain a scholarship to attend a private bordering school as a young girl, and this education set her on a path of independence and freedom from the cycle. After obtaining her Masters of Public Policy from Strathmore University, she realized "Education if the great equalizer of our time." From this premise, she founded what is now the RTSEF.

She shared that this past year they were inundated with over 6,000 applications, and were able to provide scholarships to 50 motivated and driven youth ages 8-13. The cost to support a student is $650 USD for the entire year, including tuition, food, shelter, clothing, books, and other sundries. Emily also walked us through several examples of success stories.

Many members were driven to engage in discussion, and several indicated a personal intention to provide support.