Yesterday Jecinta, our Kenya Coordinator, took Mercy to enroll in Nursing College, a two-day journey which included buying books and nursing uniforms on the way, and standing in lines for 12 hours to get housing and pay tuition. Earlier that week, she sent funds to all 14 S.H.E. students for their next semester in school. On Friday she will go with Lenah to Teachers college, then take Joy shopping for all her needs and deliver her to a different Nursing program in a distant part of Kenya.
I had no idea when I received a desperate email from Jecinta in 2010 asking me to find the money for her college education, that she would be the inspiration for the S.H.E. Fund. I also had no idea that it had been her mother, 2 years earlier, who had taken me aside in a remote village in the Great Rift Valley, to beg me to help her daughter who was living at the Safe House. The eldest of her 10 children, this daughter was her only hope. At the time Jecinta’s mother was living in a mud hut (called a Manyatta) with her other children, working single-handedly as a farmer to try to feed her family. It was only several years later, well after I was engaged in funding Jecinta, that I realized the connection between them and that by some mystery and grace I was fulfilling a request I had no idea I could respond to!
At the time I’d never raised funds for anything but my own rent. I had no idea if I could do it, but thanks to the generosity of my friends, we managed to put Jecinta through college, then University. In 2015, she graduated with a 4-year degree in Business. She was the only Maasai woman in her graduating class of hundreds.
Today, Jecinta runs the S.H.E. Fund in Kenya. She is the “big sister” to all the girls to whom the fund grants scholarships, helping them find the right college, making sure all their needs are met, checking up on them by phone, visiting them at school, helping them buy computers or find housing, and communicating with their professors. She is also part way through achieving her license as a CPA. I am so proud of her. It is thanks to her that S.H.E. is the miraculous organization it is, built on personal relationships, mentoring and fostering the dreams of rescued girls to put an end to oppression of women in their communities and make their dreams realities. Changing the world one visionary student at a time. Jecinta was the first.
~by Kim Rosen