Ali says he worked very hard and managed to join the Kenya Medical Training College after which he went to the US to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree. He also pursued a Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the same university and a Masters in Business Administration at Concordia University.
Ali is passionate about education because he counts himself lucky to have got a chance to join a university, forming the less than one per cent from his community who managed to do the same.
“We are creating a whole generation of disillusioned, disenfranchised and underprivileged youth. Basic free primary and secondary education don’t help much because many graduate with Es and Ds,” he says.
To add to the woes, the North Eastern people are largely pastoralists who over the years considered themselves rich because of their livestock. Due to the rampant droughts and rustling, however, residents are now struggling to adjust to new lifestyles, which they are ill prepared for.
“Their best bet is a sedentary lifestyle where youths while away in a stupor, chewing miraa.”
Ali says the situation calls for a concerted effort, especially in terms of provision of quality education.
Through GCG, Ali has created a mentorship programme comprising people from the North Eastern Province who have achieved in various fields despite the odds. Students get attached to mentors who guide them through education and other aspects of growth and development.
Another of Ali’s passions is technology. He says while the rest of the world is connected to the Internet, most people from the North have never seen a computer. In 2009, Ali brought about 4000 ‘Alpha Smarts’ computers, which he distributed to all secondary and some primary schools in Wajir, Garissa and Mandera. Alpha Smarts, which are solar powered, are popular in European and American schools.
In 2010, GCG embarked on a new project. Since the area has no tertiary institutions, Ali targeted secondary school leavers who would form teams of three to ten and come up with projects such as metalwork or woodwork.
“We are trying to build skills and fight the dependency syndrome,” says Ali.
They acquired property in Wajir where the vocational trainings take place. GCG is laying groundwork at the same site for its biggest project yet — a university.
“Northern Kenya has a population of over four million. Each year, the region graduates over 15,000 students. Kenya’s public universities, all located elsewhere, absorb less than five per cent of the graduates. The rest are left out,” says Northern Kenya University Initiative (Norku), a document written by GCG.
“The government has for years promised to build a university in the region, but there are only a few constituent universities.
“A 50-acre land has been acquired through a collaborative effort between the GCG, the Norku planning committee, the County Council of Wajir and the Regional Education Board of Wajir District,” he says