Education changes lives. It’s a fact. Data shows that just a single extra year of schooling can increase an individual’s earnings by up to 10%, and if all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, it could pull 171 million people out of poverty. Yet if you live in a Western country, it can be easy to forget what life must truly be like for the 124 million children and adolescents who are denied access to education - or the power that school has to transform an individual’s future.

Nakuru Children’s Project is a small NGO determined to relieve poverty and improve education for children in Nakuru, Kenya, matching sponsors from all over the world to kids from vulnerable and impoverished backgrounds who desperately deserve the chance to go to school.

Today, meet 4 incredible kids whose lives have been changed for the better - and hear in their own words the amazing things they intend to accomplish.

  1. Shalom, a super star girl who wants to save lives!

Image: Zoe Kelland / Nakuru Children's Project

“In the future I would like to be a neurosurgeon. I will make sure that I save people’s lives."

Shalom loves to sing and act, and has always spoken up for herself and her classmates. Bold and confident, she was born to be a leader, but feared she’d have to drop out of school at 13-years-old as her single mother couldn’t afford the school fees.

With the help of a sponsor, she was able to continue her education and quickly rose to the top of her class, defeating every other student in her exams. Her hard work was rewarded - Shalom now studies in a school for the best and brightest girls in her county, and is still kicking ass in class. The opportunity’s not been wasted; she’s determined to grow up to be a changemaker in her community.

In her own words: My aim is to work hard and make sure that I am as busy as a bee in order to achieve my goals.”

  1. Mawut, a refugee from South Sudan who lived in a refugee camp for years just so he could finish school

Image: Nakuru Children's Project
Born in war-torn South Sudan, Mawut fled to Kenya as a child and sacrificed everything just to go to school.

“I came to Kenya because of the civil war that was going on in my country...this caused a lot of insecurity and forced my sister, brother and I to flee to Kenya for safety and live as a refugee.”

At just 9-years-old, Mawut’s father disappeared to fight in the civil war, whilst Mawut and his siblings were forced to flee. He moved to the town of Nakuru, in Kenya, where he was able to go to primary school - and started getting the best grades in his class. But his education was suddenly disrupted again.

“In 2010, my sister who I was living with [decided to go back] to Sudan and I decided not to follow her because I knew if I did so, that would be the end of my education. I went to Kakuma Refugee Camp with my brother, where I completed the two remaining years of my primary course. I passed very well despite the problems that I had experienced."

Despite incredible hardship, Mawut was determined to complete his education, even if it meant separating himself from his family. And his bravery paid off - Mawut finished primary school at the top of his class, qualifying for one of Kenya’s top boarding schools. Thanks to a sponsor paying his school fees, he’s now in his final year of high school and scoring As! When he graduates, he intends to study medicine and says “I am determined to pursue my dream, get a good job and also assist other children in need, like I was before.”

  1. Judy, who is determined to help others even when she has little herself

Image: Annemarieke Blankestein / Nakuru Children's Project
Judy's story is one of incredible resilience and kindness. As a young girl, Judy almost fainted in an exam because she hadn’t eaten for five days. She went to a teacher in tears, and was provided with free school meals. But when it reached the end of primary school, she hit a wall.

“After my final primary school exams, I stayed at home hopeless with no hope. My father said that he had no money at all to take me to secondary school. I really cried very much and started planning how I would start working as a housegirl [a live-in maid] so that at least I could provide for myself and my siblings.”

Just days away from the cut-off date for enrolling in secondary school, Judy’s dreams were revived as sponsors came forward to pay her fees - a life-changing moment that meant she could go to a good quality boarding school with all her meals and tuition provided.

“When I [found out I had a sponsor], I was very happy and really shed tears of happiness because at least I had hope of going to school. I’m short of words to say what my sponsors have done for me. To them, they might see as if they have done something too small, but to me they have made a very big difference in my life. Life in secondary school has made me learn a lot and I also have skills and knowledge on how to deal with life in my day to day activities.”

Once in school, Judy couldn’t forget about the opportunity she’d been given, and was always on the lookout for ways of helping other people in return. When she spotted friends struggling for pencils, books, or school equipment, she’d sneak her own things into their desks without them noticing - even though she barely had enough herself.

And her ambition didn’t stop there. Judy graduated from secondary school in December and is now eagerly waiting to see whether she’ll get a place at university to study special education. She wants to become a teacher for children with unique learning needs.

“With all this I will be able to change the life of my parents, my younger siblings, and also help the needy people who are like me to prosper and achieve their goal. I just want to make somebody else smile, the way I was made to smile.”

  1. Charles, who has an amazing message about changing the world

In the video, Charles explains how he felt the moment he found out he had a sponsor to pay his secondary school fees. He also has the best idea on how to change the world - watch to 0:19 to see!


Shalom, Mawut, Judy and Charles are just four students receiving an education thanks to the generosity of individual sponsors.

Want to help? Click here to email Nakuru Children’s Project for more information on how you can help support a child.


Defeat Poverty

4 children explain how education has changed their lives

By Zoe Kelland