Vane Aminga, the lady who beats the odds to educate 60 Samburu girls

Vane Aminga

"I had to visit Samburu. This was because one of my classmates dropped out of school in Form Three and got married off. I just had to go to Samburu and find out why girls drop out of school or do not go at all. Three years ago, during the Easter holiday, I made my first visit."

When Vane first visited Samburu County, she noticed that most girls did not go to school. Instead, they took the livestock to graze while their brothers got formal education.

In what seemed am unfair twist, most schools in the county had food programmes, meaning the children in school would eat while those in the grazing fields stayed hungry the whole day. Asked if they would like to go to school, the girls eagerly answered in the affirmative.

That was enough reason for Vane to begin a spirited yet uphill fight for the education of girls in the community. For starters, on her return to Nairobi, she managed to convince her friends to support her cause. They agreed and accompanied her on her next visit, during which they sat with the girls and got to hear about the challenges they faced.

The next step was to meet the elders and convince them of the importance of girl child education.

"It was hard talking to the parents at first," Vane admits.

To prove they were genuine, Vane and her friends did not insist on taking pictures, and would sleep in their hosts' homes. At times, when there was nothing to eat, the team would sleep hungry like their hosts.

Through this sacrifice, they were able to understand the Samburu girls' challenges better and gain the families' trust.

"They were shocked that we kept coming back. We talked and listened to them and they saw the value of taking their children to school. What they lacked was money," the fifth year Mechanical Engineering student explains.

Vane and 15 other members of Fly Sister Fly, among other volunteers, collected books from family and friends and presented these to the girls. The team was offered a wooden room at Girgir Primary School, where they started a library.

The Sh200 contributed monthly by members of the team went towards buying uniform, stationery, books, and sanitary towels, and meeting other expenses that would keep them in school. Even though the amount needed to keep a girl in primary school for a year varies, it is Sh10, 000 on average.

Through this simple yet noble effort, the first three girls completed their primary school education last year and have gone on to secondary school.

Vane explains that she talked to people who were ready to fund the girls' education, contributing a certain amount of money each month. The budget for a high school student is roughly Sh60,000 per year.

"We are still approaching people, and some have agreed to contribute whatever they can afford to help cover school fees. Even as we do this, we are keeping in mind the fact that more girls will be sitting their national exams this year."

Nowadays, Vane even receives calls from the parents, informing her when their daughters have refused to go to school. She then talks to the girls and gets to know what the problem is.

Where did this heart of gold emanate from? Vane was the benefactor of a similar programme when she was a student at Starehe Girls' High School. The aspiring pilot was inspired by her German sponsor, Yonnel Arrouas, who was part of an organisation called Rettet Das Kind that helped pay her school fees.

Fly Sister Fly currently focuses on Samburu East, even as it hopes to spread its wings to other areas.

"We would like to urge the Samburu County executive to support our cause. There are other foundations that have the same goals we do, and we are ready to partner with them," Vane says.

To to this end, she has also donated items Bakuli Trust, a charity initiative started by former Miss Marsabit Marsabit Qabale Duba that tackles a similar problem.

Vane hopes to one day take part in policy making to make a change in the country.

"I would like to tell the youths that the time to do things is now. We do not need people to push us to do something. We can push ourselves and achieve much. Even though I did not study aviation, my dreams of becoming a pilot are still alive," she concludes.

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