Sidney-based charity Eagle Heights Africa is hosting their annual St. Patrick’s Day Bridge Luncheon fundraiser Saturday (March 14) in the hopes of securing a sponsor for 16-year-old Kenyan Eugene Kiprotich so he can continue attending high school.
The organization matches local benefactors with Kenyan students to ensure that, no matter the families’ means, the kids have access to a quality education right through to graduation.
Eugene is currently without a sponsor and his future and continued education are in jeopardy.
Bill German, president of the organization and a longtime Sidney resident, says they’re not only hoping to secure a sponsor for Eugene, but to bolster the charity’s reserves and hopefully expand the number of students they support.
Though there is a public school system, the level of education offered is of a drastically lower standard, says German. Class sizes are unlimited, for example, and can reach up to 70 children.
In Kenya, where a large portion of the population lives in poverty, not every child even gets to go to primary school.
“Parents don’t always have employment and are forced to eke out a survival growing their own food on a small plot of land,” says German. “They just don’t have the funds to send their children to school.”
Compounding that, high school costs roughly three times that of the lower grades, he says.
“About 90 per cent go to primary, 30 per cent go to high school, and only one or two per cent make it to university. And then it’s usually because they’ve managed to get scholarships.”
Education is paramount to a bright future, he continues.
“It’s very important to get a job in Kenya that’s more than just a labour-type job paying minimum wage.
“I’ve thought about this a lot, and with education, the young people are motivated to get jobs and do well,” he says.
“With no education, they’re more inclined to join the extremist groups that have been moving into Africa.”
For his part, Eugene has been working diligently to maintain his grades and stay in school and wrote in his Christmas letter that he was looking forward to working with his grandparents over the holiday.
He added he was spending time with his little sister teaching her how to read.
Established in 2010, Eagle Heights Africa BC has been sponsoring 11 children through their primary and high school educations in concert with Eagle Heights Africa Kenya, and German says they’re hoping to expand their sponsors to support more students.
Sponsorships are $1,000 for the year, and can be made in two payments of $500 to the charity.
Funds go to tuition, school uniforms, accommodation at the boarding school and a small allowance for personal items.
The bridge and Scrabble fest kicks off Saturday, March 14 with lunch at noon, followed by gaming until 3:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Church, 2410 Malaview Ave. in Sidney.
Tickets are $20, and are available at the door, or by calling Hazel at 250-656-6143 or Bill at 250-656-4141.
Eagle Heights Africa will also be hosting an authentic Kenyan dinner, featuring Kenyan dancers as entertainment, Saturday, April 18 at the Shoal Centre.
For more information, visit eagleheightsafricainbc.org.