Women for Change
Sharon is studying Medical Science at the University of Technology Sydney

Maasai girls arrive in Sydney to start their university studies

Sharon is studying Medical Science at the University of Technology Sydney
Sharon is studying Medical Science at the University of Technology Sydney

Magdalene and Sharon have travelled over 12,000km from their Maasai community in Kenya to Sydney to begin university scholarships at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney, respectively.

During their first two weeks in Sydney, Magdalene and Sharon have been getting acquainted with the city that will be their home for the course of their university degrees. They have practised navigating around Sydney and locating relevant bus stops, as well as settling into their new student accommodation at Urban Nest in Ultimo. They also recently enrolled in their first semester of classes at their respective universities.

Even though Magdalene is attending the University of Sydney and Sharon is attending UTS, they will still get to spend time together, especially at Urban Nest where they both live.

These past few weeks they have been busy with computer training, having never had the opportunity to use a computer before, but they are also taking some time to enjoy the beautiful city of Sydney. They have also spent time walking around Darling Harbour which is only a short walk from where they live.

These young women have worked hard for their education and now, with support from Women for Change, their dreams of going to university are coming true.

Sharon (18) comes from a polygamous family of 26 children. Being born into a very traditional Maasai family meant navigating basic needs such as education was a challenge.

Fortunately, she secured a place at Kakenya Center for Excellence in 2009 and sat her national high school examination in 2017.

She is studying Medical Science at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and dreams of becoming a pharmacist in the future.

“Thanks to the scholarship I have received with the support of Women for Change and The LBW Trust, I feel so fortunate and I know my scholarship will transform my life. It will also impact my community in the future because I will be able to help them get access to medication and better health services,” says Sharon.

Magdalene is studying Liberal Arts and Science at the University of Sydney
Magdalene is studying Liberal Arts and Science at the University of Sydney

Magdalene (17) also comes from a polygamous family. She was at high risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage. But in 2009, she was selected to join the first class of fourth graders at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Kakenya’s school provides high-quality education, a safe place to live, freedom from FGM and child marriage, and health care to all its students.

Prior to attending KCE, Magdalene understood very little English and lacked the confidence she needed to express herself.

Magdalene is attending the University of Sydney to study a bachelor degree in Liberal Arts and Science. Magdalene is the first in her family not only to go to university but also to travel abroad.

“I will continue to work hard so that the opportunity I have received to study abroad will better not only me but also my family and the entire community,” she says.

We wish to thank everyone who has supported Women for Change and Kakenya’s Dream to empower these young women through education. This is history in the making.

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Kate Meikle