AAA Nairobi members and UBC/Sauder School of Business trainers at Executive Education Workshop
Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.
End Game: Kenyanization By Dale Albertson, Executive Director
It’s far easier to list the many accomplishments of ACCES than it is to convey how your support truly changes lives. But ACCES knows that its milestones and those stories are inseparable, because the accomplishments are actually made by the people themselves. The life stories of the scholarship recipients are what help us to connect with them and to better understand the life-changing difference that ACCES makes in their lives. The ACCES Alumni Association (AAA) and the African Scholars’ Education Foundation (ASEF) story is a powerful example. And what an amazing story it is!
ACCES Executive Director Dale Albertson asked David and Risper, two of the executive members of ASEF who are also alumni, about their 2019 milestones. Here is their story.
David smiled, confident; yet boyishly charming as he prepares to answer the question “What is ASEF, and what was the motivation for starting this organization?”
“Let me answer the second part first, because that will explain what ASEF is. Simply put, education transforms the lives of people. I know this firsthand, because I was born into poverty. My widowed grandmother raised me, with no job or income. I worked to help feed us since I was 7 years old. But I also hoped for more, and saw that education was the pathway to a better life.”
David got serious, and with a somber look in his eye, continued. “It was incredibly difficult, but somehow through hard work and perseverance, I managed to make it through to secondary school with good marks. I felt good about my achievement, yet when my fellow secondary leavers got their university admission letters, and headed off to further their education, I was crestfallen.”
David paused as he reflected back on that day, reliving the distress and hopelessness he had felt. “For nearly two years I volunteered as an untrained teacher in a rural school for handouts, trying to save enough to be admitted to university. I finally had my admission letter asking me to report to university on the 16th of October, but all I had was bus fare, some pocket money and a small part of my fees. I went anyway. Miraculously I was admitted on condition that in one week I should clear all the fees.”
David smiled a bit sheepishly, “I’m not sure if that was brave or foolish. But that’s how I learned about ACCES. During orientation, I met an ACCES sponsored student who told me about their scholarships. When I was sent home for fees the following week, I immediately visited the ACCES office to explain my situation.”
David stopped, catching his breath as the emotion rolled over his face. “This day was the turning point in my life. The hope that someone out there who didn’t even know me could possibly fulfill my deepest desire was overwhelming.”
Holding his emotions in check, David continued, “The staff person at ACCES who was handling my case promised me that she would check for any sponsor available and attach me to them. And that is what happened! ACCES gave me the wings to fly and now I can fly in any direction. I want to see more Kenyans become transformed by the multiplier effect, which has touched so many lives through ACCES. I guess that was a long answer.”
Risper added her voice to the discussion. “I too came from a similar background. We would sleep hungry, borrow flour from our neighbors and make porridge for dinner. We had to eat unripe boiled maize, beans or bananas or even eat bean leaves if the beans had not yet sprouted. I would come home for lunch and only chew sugar cane before going back to school. My mother would go to funerals just to carry home some food for us. We borrowed from neighbors who were well off till we could borrow no more. My uniforms were torn most of the time, and I put on my first pair of shoes when I was joining high school. It was so hard.” She wiped a tear from her eye and sat back in her chair.
David relaxed a bit, and continued. “As members of the alumni association, which is really just a loose association of those of us who benefitted from ACCES scholarships, a group of us realized that we wanted to be the multiplier effect ourselves. After all, we had been helped at just the right moment in our lives, and were now in a position to do the same thing for others. It was an epiphany! We decided to start a Kenyan organization that would do the same thing as ACCES had done for us.”
“Yes,” Risper agreed, “we wanted to pay forward what ACCES had done for us, to other Kenyans that are in the same situation we found ourselves in at that age. So in 2019 we got busy and developed a strategic plan, began a feasibility study with ACCES and two universities, one in Canada and one in Nairobi to assess our core competencies and identify gaps in capacity. It’s all very exciting!”
She showed a picture on her phone, “in July, 14 AAA members in Nairobi benefitted from the Canadian university when they hosted an Executive Education Workshop here. This helped all of us to do better in our careers, as well as to further the progress of making ASEF an operational organization.” Risper flashed her infectious smile, “in fact, ASEF is now only one step from receiving official status as a Charitable Trust in Kenya.”
Rubbing his hands together in anticipation, David finished, “We’re presently at the stage of evaluating financial instrument options for investing the funds we’ve raised from the AAA members over the last few years. We’re realizing the dream of Kenyanization!”
Final Note from Dale: In fact, AAA members have raised the equivalent of nearly $30,000, which is a very good start to their investment portfolio! ACCES could not be more proud of these graduates! But we also could not have helped them to get where they are now, without the loyal help of you, our supporters. Remember, ACCES is dependent on you to do what we do. For that reason, ACCES and our students give a great big Thank You!
“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”
Marian Wright Edelman
David participating in a strategy session; Risper working with her team at Education Workshop
Click here to view and print our 2019 Holiday Gift Catalogue
When it Rains it Pours
One of the peculiar things about operating a charity is that nearly all of the annual revenue that is received comes in the last two months of the year, during the holiday season. Of course, it is the season of generosity, giving of gifts and helping those less fortunate, regardless of your cultural traditions, so it does make sense.
But this also makes planning the annual budget of a charity much more difficult, because from January to October, it’s like a drought for a farmer. Other than the dew on the ground, there’s no other water coming to nourish the ground and crops, but then the skies suddenly open, and the rains come in pouring down in November and December, hence the title of this little piece.
ACCES is very grateful for the support of those of you who make your annual contributions this time of year, and we also understand that this may be the best, or only time that you can make your donation, so we truly and deeply thank you. But, if it’s possible for you to switch to monthly donations, we would very much appreciate it. Monthly donations are like monthly pay cheques for paying the household bills. Knowing what we can count on over the course of the year makes a huge difference in how we manage your donations, ensuring the best value.
If you would like to find out more, call the office, or send an email using the contact information below.