- This is a story of why Winnie Moraa, a fourth-year student, is giving her scholarship away
- She says the essence of a scholarship is to help a student who would otherwise find it difficult attending school
Imagine being a recipient of a scholarship that pays tuition and gives you stipend for upkeep. Would you forfeit it upon achieving financial stability? That is exactly what Winnie Moraa, now in her fourth year of study, did.
“The essence of a scholarship is to help a student who would otherwise find it difficult attending school,” Winnie says. “I had reached a point I was earning a living and I could comfortably take care of myself.”
Winnie and her brother (her only sibling) were raised by a single mother in Kisumu who eked out a living selling vegetables along the streets to fend for the family.
“With her meager earnings she was not able to take us to school,” Winnie says.
The two siblings went to a public primary school where school fees was subsidized. The major hurdle came in high school. “Mom wouldn’t have been able to pay for one of us, let alone two of us, secondary school fees.”
Owing to her disadvantaged background, Winnie applied to and was selected by Starehe Girls Centre; a school that accommodates poor but bright students.
“At Starehe Girls, fees are waived for all students who are admitted. All I had to do was perform well in class,” she says.
In Form three, Winnie came across the Global Give Back Circle (GGBC) scholarship, funded by USAid and managed by Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF). Launched in 2008, GGBC provides girls and boys – many of them orphans – with the skills and support they need to escape the cycle of poverty. So far, 840 girls and 28 boys have completed tertiary education through the scholarship
“University education was important to me. GGBC gave me hope that I would be able to go to university and study,” Winnie says.
Winnie was informed that she had been picked to receive the scholarship in form four. In 2013 she was admitted to Moi University (main campus) to study Bachelor of Business Management: Purchasing and Supplies. Unlike most scholarships, GGBC also incorporates mentorship, life skills development, and harnesses leadership qualities for each recipient.
“I was given a mentor,” says Winnie. “Apart from academics, we attended three workshops every year to learn about financial literacy, entrepreneurship, relationships, sex and reproductive health.”
Through the seminars and interacting with her mentor (a manager with an international firm) she learned how to be independent, proactive in achieving her goals and to look beyond employment after graduation.
“Beyond paying for their tuition we pair each student with a mentor and take them through workshops where they learn to have an independent mind. Winnie has certainly achieved an independent mind,” Janet Mawiyoo, the executive director of KCDF, says of Winnie.
While in school Winnie got to learn about academic writing.
“I learned that I could earn a living by doing academic assignments for students online. I created an account and started working,” she says.
Initially, Winnie wasn’t sure if she would succeed but got the hang of it soon enough. To make money she needed to find the right balance between her own academics and the jobs she took through her academic writing account. Winnie now makes on average Sh40,000 every month. During “high seasons”, she says, she can make upwards of Sh60,000.
With her earnings she has invested in agribusiness (sugarcane and goat farming) as well as an interior design business.
“I am not really waiting to be employed upon graduation. I am learning more by operating my businesses than I would if I was employed and working for someone else,” Winnie, who should graduate in December this year, says.
At the start of the current semester Winnie wrote to KCDF asking to forfeit the remainder of her scholarship so that it can be given to someone else who needs it now that she can take care of herself. Winnie is also setting up a bigger business for her mother who has since stopped selling vegetables.
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