From Kokwa Island to Michigan State

In February, we told the story of Raymond Lesiyon, a young man from Kokwa Island who graduated from high school in 2015 with an almost perfect score on the Kenya National Exam for high school graduates. Raymond's family didn't have the resources to send him to university so instead, he was taking computer classes.  His story surfaced in 2016 when he served as a guide for a project on Kokwa Island implemented by FKSW's partner, NECOFA. Raymond was invited to join other recent high school graduates in a program sponsored by the Education and Empowerment Program (EaSEP) in Kenya, a non-profit that selects 10 young people each year and tutors them for 4 weeks in preparation for applying to American universities with the hope of receiving a 4 year scholarship. Tutoring is provided for the students in Kenya by a Eugene-based non-profit, the East African Scholars Fund,  directed by Janet Heinonen. During the summer of 2016, Raymond's scores on practice tests, like the SAT, rose from the bottom of the class to near the top.  He applied to several universities in the US.  One of 800 applicants for 20 scholarships, on April 12, he received notification from Michigan State University informing him that he had been awarded a scholarship through the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program that will provide him with financial support for fees, tuition, uniforms, transportation, books, supplies, accommodation and stipends for 4 years.

Raymond, in purple, with friends

In a message to Janet, who had spent weeks working with him and the other students in Kenya during the summer, Raymond wrote:

"Thanks Janet. I just saw Congratulation in the email and I knew finally good news has arrived on our table. I first went down to say thank you to God before I read the whole email.  I am really happy. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My academic area is Biosystems engineering which will enable me to culture healthier and faster maturing fish in order to increase the fish population at Lake Baringo and to find out the causes of declining fishing activity and how to control it.

The leadership skills that will be cultivated in me will enable me to organize and mobilize the Kokwa community to be involved in projects that will see the growth of economy, reduction of gender inequality at Kokwa Island and its environs. It will also will enable me to work on improvement of security in my community by developing initiatives that will try to bring the two conflicting communities together, Ilchamus and Pokot, hence creating a rapport between us.
Ache oleng( Thanks a lot)

Warm regards,