One of my fondest memories came in 2019 when we officially opened the WE College in Kenya’s Narok County. It was the culmination of almost two decades of work to deliver fresh water, health services, educational programing and infrastructure in the region.
Before the college was ever imagined, we started building schools and establishing educational programs in the area with a focus on primary schools. Through partnerships with local communities, we were able to increase access to education by investing in infrastructure and resources. Done in tandem with the community, this work was instrumental in increasing students' attendance, especially among girls.
The growing number of primary school graduates inspired us to support government-operated community secondary schools and eventually open our own boarding secondary school supporting at-risk students, which quickly expanded into two campuses due to the overwhelming demand. But it soon became clear that we were about to start graduating scores of secondary students who couldn’t afford to travel to the bigger cities of the country to seek a post-secondary degree.
So we set out to build the region’s first ever college. All students receive full scholarships. The first cohort students arrived in 2017 and comprised all female learners.
The college rotates programs, allowing students to earn diplomas in nursing, clinical medicine, Business Management, Entrepreneurship Development, Information Technology (ICT), Education (to become a primary school teacher), Early Childhood Education, Entrepreneurial Agriculture, Automotive Engineering and Tourism.
The opening ceremony brought together learners, thousands of people from across the county, and honorary guests including Former Prime Minister of Canada Kim Campbell and Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya at the time.
By partnering with leaders from Narok County and with support from generous donors we created opportunities for students in the region at all levels from primary, to secondary, to post-secondary.
When we started building school rooms in Kenya in the 1990s, I never dreamed that the movement would grow to include a college in the heart of the Maasai Mara.
The most gratifying part is that many of the students at the college started in the primary school and secondary schools we built and are now studying to be the next generation of educators, entrepreneurs, agricultural scientists, hospitality managers, nurses and more.
The graduates create a new level of sustainability by taking their talents back to their local community, becoming leaders at hospitals, schools, business and farms, and demonstrating to young people that they too can aspire to these previously unattainable positions in the community.
One of the college’s first graduates, Mercy Ntuala, is an example of a student who attended WE schools from primary school all the way through college. She is now a safari guide in the Maasai Mara and the first woman in her family’s history to drive. Her story will bring you joy!