As of July 2013, Stephen began a Bachelor of Tourism Management at Moi University, Nairobi, Kenya. The program is joint to the Diploma he completed in Wildlife Management and Tourism. He needs your support to have enough funds to complete the program.
Photo: Stephen Kamau at the Giraffe Center where he did his work placement as a naturalist for school children from Nairobi, Kenya
Hello, my name is Stephen Kamau. I am from Kimende in Lari District of Kiambu County, Kenya. I graduated with a diploma in tourism and wildlife management from the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya Research Tourism and Training institute in 2010. Since then I have dreamed to continue in a joint Tourism Management degree program at Moi University in Nairobi, Kenya. A degree will surely take me much further in the pursuit of helping my community and country remedy issues on environmental conservation. As of September 2013, I am very happy to finally make this a reality as it has been very difficult to fundraise enough money.
I had anticipated enrolling in August 2011 but this did not happen because I was unable to raise the required amount of $1650.00 annually.
I appeal to you to support me to complete my Tourism Management degree program at Moi university in Nairobi, Kenya. By doing this you will not only be supporting me but also my community as well. This is because I am giving back to my community through providing knowledge to the youth and students in schools – changing lives of many and at the same time contributing to environmental conservation.
I live in Kimende town where I am practicing educational tour guiding services to visitors, students and community groups who come to visit Kereita forest- a unique forest that was saved from severe destruction by members of KENVO (The Kijabe Environment Volunteers) in the last two decades. (KENVO is the chief partner of Education is Power)
A part from offering educational guiding services on weekends, I also visit schools on certain days and lecture students on environmental education, specifically on ecology and sustainable use and management of natural resources. I also help students understand the U.N. millennium development goals and the role our government is playing in achieving these goals and in Kenya’s vision 2030.
Thanks to Education is Power I was able to complete a my diploma with the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya. This diploma has helped me greatly in enabling me to start my own wilderness education and guiding company. The diploma has also allowed me to improve my research skills in report writing. I have conducted environmental research on a contract basis. I have also been more employable in the field of community organizing, picking up contracts with Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Amkeni Kenya (Wake up Kenya) – a United Nations sponsored project which educates and promotes Kenyans to hold peaceful and fair elections. This employment has allowed me to save some money towards completing my degree in Tourism Management but since the cost of education is quite high in Kenya, I have not been able to continue my education.
My future goal is to open an outdoor education center in Kereita forest where visitors, students and other organized groups will come for environmental education, outdoor team building activities as well as for recreation. The center is expected to deliver environmental education specifically for youth – the future guardians of our environment. It is also expected to create employment to local youth with exemplary knowledge on environment.
Photo: Stephen Kamau (left) with Dave Cuddy at a U.N. Millennium Development Goals / Education is Power event in October 2009
Family History and Background
I am the third born in a family of five brought up by a single mother. My elder sister is married while my elder brother took off when we were young, never to be seen again. My younger brother and sister are at home helping with household work although they are supposed to be in school but they can’t due to lack of school fees. Since my mom is a single mother and a small-scale farmer, the little income she gets can only cater for her basic needs.
I went to primary school in Ruiru, Thika district of Central Kenya. I was then transferred to Muchorui Primary School in Magumu Location Nyandarwa where I sat for my KCPE (Kenya Primary Education Certificate) in the year 1997. I had serious financial difficulties in joining secondary school after performing very well in primary school. The little my mom received from casual laboring was not enough for me to go to secondary school. So in the year 1998 of January and February I spent a lot of time persuading my relatives to support my secondary education. Luckily I approached one of my uncles who accepted to pay half my fees each year. His Positive response led to my grandfather also accepting to pay the other half. I was very overwhelmed by their responses and I joined Gathugu Secondary school in Githunguri Division, Kiambu district. I gained my KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) in the year 2001.
My dream was to join a college and complete a degree in wildlife studies and sustainable tourism. The problem was that I still could not afford this due to lack of finances. My two supporters would not continue to support me in joining college because it is too expensive. Due to this I resulted to work on a farm where I fed grazing cattle and weeded crops on the farm. This was in the year 2002. The next January I received another job as a salesperson in a shop, although these two types of jobs did not fetch much money to be saved for school. It was too little ($35 USD per month).
It was at this time when I was in the shop that I met a friend who introduced me to KENVO ( The Kijabe Environment Volunteers), a community based conservation group in Lari division Kiambu district. After learning what the group does, I became interested in joining KENVO since I have an interest in conservation and about the environment in general. Since I became a member, I have been working as a volunteer in KENVO’s tree nurseries, participating in forest policing by flushing poachers out of the forest, carrying out annual forest monitoring, planting trees in degraded forest areas, training school kids on environmental issues like tree planting, bird watching and presenting environment talks at The KENVO resource center. This has helped me to gain a lot of knowledge and increased my capacity in tour guiding, bird knowledge, and conservation approaches among others. It is through this experience that led me to secure a one year contract as a project leader with KENVO, my main work was to lead forest monitoring and research. I also took care of KENVO’s botanical garden among other work as given by the management.
The little stipend I got ($100 USD / per month) also could not support my dream of joining a college since I needed to use this to support my family and my daily needs (rent/food).
In 2006 I gained an opportunity to travel to Canada for a youth exchange program known as Canada World Youth. It was in this exchange that I met Canadian, Dave Cuddy who was my counterpart throughout the six month program. During this time Samuel Wakang’u (my colleague) and I spent a lot of time sharing with Cuddy some of the challenges facing the youth in Kenya limiting them access higher education, despite their potential to bring positive change in the society. Then it was after the program in early 2008 that Education is Power was made possible by Dave Cuddy and a series of fundraising events held to see Samuel and I get back to school.
It is through your generous support that I have been able to live my dream of going to college with a brighter future. I believe that it is through education that one becomes enlightened and able to make the changes our world needs. I thank you all for giving me this golden opportunity to go to school. I also kindly request you to continue supporting this initiative that transforms the lives of underprivileged young Kenyans who become able to empower others.
I continue to volunteer with KENVO during weekends and holidays.
Photo: Stephen Kamau (left) organized The Run for Peace in Limuru, Kenya – December 2012. The idea of the event was to promote peaceful elections across Kenya. There was a 16km run throughout the community of Limuru a long with guest speakers and musicians.