|By Rachael Wangui Wanjohi|
As I reflect on my service-based learning experience, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of satisfaction and inspiration. I volunteered at Pacemaker International, where I was placed at Saviour King Educational Centre, a school in Kibera slum, Kenya. While there, I witnessed the struggles that the pupils and teachers faced on a daily basis. They lack enough resources, including books, learn in overcrowded classrooms and lack access to technology, even in this era of CBC learning.
As a person who once studied at an underprivileged school, I felt a deep sense of familiarity when I arrived at the school. The school had the same limited resources, poor academic conditions, and outdated technology that I remembered from my own experience.
But this time, I had the chance to make a positive impact on the lives of the pupils who were in the same situation that I once was in..
That’s why my team and I decided to take action and embark on a project to build a library and an ICT center for the school. It’s pretty obvious that a team of campus students could not afford to build an equipped library but with the knowledge, values and skills that we have learnt at Strathmore, this project was successful.
It was not an easy feat, but with good communication, partnership and fundraising strategies, it was all possible. One of our biggest partners was Safaricom Foundation’s Ndoto Zetu initiative and friends. In total, we were able to raise Ksh. 400,000 plus ten computers for the project. This was a significant impact and we were all elated that we could make a difference in the lives of the pupils and teachers at the school.
Despite the few challenges my team and I faced, the joy and gratitude of the school community made it worthwhile. Seeing the pupils’ smiles and watching them learn in a conducive environment gave and still gives me a deep sense of fulfilment and purpose. Up to date, I still visit the school.
As a dedicated community changer, I have worked passionately to improve the lives of those around me. From initiatives that educate young people about menstrual and sexual health such as Nawiri Sisters Foundation to mental health advocacy. I have always been committed to making the world a better place.
My journey has not been an easy one, however. I have partially grown up in a slum and attended a secondary school where resources were scarce, but my passion for learning never wavered. I worked hard and eventually had a chance to study at Strathmore University where I am currently pursuing a degree in Communication for development & Public relations.
Despite the challenges I have faced, my experiences have given me a unique set of skills and knowledge that have proven invaluable in my work. My time serving the community through the Strathmore Community Service program and Macheo has given me a deep understanding of the challenges that most people face and how to help them overcome those challenges. I have learnt how to communicate difficult topics in a way that is both informative and approachable and have an understanding of how to address sensitive health issues with empathy and sensitivity. Strathmore Mental Health Club has also given me insight into the complex world of mental health and how to offer support to those who need it.
I am excited to continue learning and growing. I normally view my university experience as an opportunity to further develop my skills and knowledge and to become an even stronger advocate for those in need. I’m eager to connect with other like-minded individuals and to learn from some of the best minds in the world. I believe campus is not just a means to an end, but an opportunity to make a real difference in the world. And I am excited to see where this journey takes me. I am grateful for the opportunity Strathmore gave me to have been part of this change.
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