Our Impact

We began in 2006, simply sponsoring 4 girls from 1 school.

Our Founder, Gerald Maithya, wanted to commemorate the short life of his sister Caroline who died when she was only four years old. Since then, our numbers have increased steadily and, in 2015, we are sponsoring 93 girls in 4 schools.

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Our partner schools

school-kilungu

Precious Blood Kilungu

Located in a rural part of South Eastern Kenya (the first school we worked with)

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Precious Blood Riruta

Located in a poor suburb of Nairobi (where we hold our mentoring events)

school-gatimu

Bishop Gatimu Girls

Located in Karatina, a rural area toward Mount Kenya, north east of Nairobi

school-starehe

Starehe Girls Centre

A school located a few miles from Nairobi (the most recent addition)

The selection process

Our aim is to identify bright girls from disadvantaged backgrounds; girls who hopefully have the ability to win a place at university. Understandably, demand for a sponsored place at school is high. Our selection process aims to identify the girls who truly come from financially needy families and those who we believe have the academic ability to benefit from a sponsored place. The process is managed by the Programme Manager, with involvement of some of the local trustees:

  1. Application forms completed by the girls, with endorsements from primary schools and local communities.
  2. First interviews with the girls, building a picture of their home environment, family finances and primary school achievements, supplemented by inputs from the head teachers.
  3. Second interviews, also attended by one or more of the local trustees.
  4. Final recommendations, approved by the Board of Trustees.
  5. Successful girls sign a letter of commitment and parents or guardians commit to encouraging the girls through school.

2016 numbers

205

Total supported to date

104

Currently in school

102

Alumni

92

In University

This growth has been possible due to the generosity and support of our sponsors – the many generous individual sponsors who each sponsor a girl through school, plus a small number of charitable organisations whose donations have enabled us to develop our overall programme.

Mentoring

In addition to paying school fees, we provide the girls with a programme of mentoring support throughout the four years of secondary education; a programme designed to help each girl to realise her potential. Given the backgrounds from which they come, the girls typically have low self-confidence and low self esteem and may lack a role model for what might be possible with an education.

 

Our Mentoring Programme has an “ABC” theme – structured to help the girls create an AMBITION, develop BELIEF in themselves and build personal COMMITMENT to academic success, self confidence and to the personal goals they set themselves.

The Programme is delivered via weekend mentoring events, run at the start of the three terms of every school year and via several 1-1 follow up meetings during term time with our Programme Manager


Our mentors

We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of around 50 mentors – who attend our mentoring weekends in Nairobi, run group discussions and have 1-1 mentoring discussions with the girls. They generously give of their time, sharing experiences, discussing the girls’ plans and commitments and listening for any personal challenges (in or outside school) that may be causing stress or anxiety for the girls. The girls and their teachers tell us this is making a real difference to performance, achievement and personal growth. Many of the girls have difficult home environments and being able to open up about the challenges is valued enormously.

Quotes from Mentors

  • My first interaction with Precious Sisters was in January 2013 when I was invited to speak to the girls about my career as a lawyer and company secretary. Since then I have continued to be involved as a mentor – an experience that has been as fulfilling to me as I know it has been for the girls. The reason I signed up to be a mentor is because I know the positive impact mentors have had in my life – albeit late in my life. I often wonder, how my life would have turned out had I been mentored as a teenager – I suspect I would have gathered courage to pursue seemingly impossible dreams much earlier in life.
  • During a typical mentoring event I get to speak with a group of 3 to 5 girls on one of the themes of Precious Sisters namely, Ambition, (Self) Belief and Commitment. This is followed by a one to one session with each of them. We talk about their challenges in school, peer pressure, career aspirations and their role in taking responsibility for the one thing that is within their control – their education.  I share my life experiences so that they know everyone has issues they have to deal with. The girls all come from very poor socio-economic backgrounds. Many of them are shy and lack self-esteem. The key message I try to get across to them is that they must remain focused on getting good enough grades to gain entry into a public university as education is their ticket out of poverty. We now have girls who have graduated from university and returned to Precious Sisters as mentors – a clear testimony that our labours are not in vain.
  • ‘If only somebody had mentored me when I was in high school.’ That’s what I think each time I have participated in the Precious Sisters mentoring weekends. Many are the lessons learned later in life (the hard way) that I could have benefitted from while in high school.
  • Though the students come from disadvantaged communities, their knowledge and awareness of real life is far from wanting.  Their hopes and aspirations are real. Listening to past students of Precious Sisters who have gone on to complete university education, I am inspired to do whatever I can to help the current students find their confidence and identify their innate talents to become the best they can be in life
  • On arriving in Kenya I immediately appreciated the warmth of the people and the adverse conditions experienced by so many as compared to my own fortunate family and when I moved from hotels to a career that gave me office hours and time to myself the wish to participate in the community led to joining Rotary where I first experienced mentorship and the opportunity to try and share the lessons of life that I had failed to share sufficiently with my own children.
  • Having seen how much I enjoyed the experience a Rotary friend of mine who was part of the Precious Sisters programme asked me if I would like to become involved. I visited and was delighted to find that the programme was run by Wallace Garland who I had known for many years from his days at Cadbury’s and this gave me the reassurance that the programme would be professionally run and every effort would be made to ensure that it was not just a ‘flash in the pan’ but an on going effort to develop the girls through their education and to prepare them for later life. This was re-enforced when meeting the wonderful Ann our programme manager and seeing the drive and enthusiasm injected by Muthoni, Wallace’s wife.
  • As far as gender balance was concerned I doubled the male presence surrounded by all our lovely ladies, increased the average age considerably as the oldest on the team and at that point was also the only non Kenyan and was immediately made very welcome by the warm and friendly group.

There is a natural apprehension which everyone experiences the first time mentoring.

  • What am I doing?
  • Will I help them?
  • Will they understand me?
  • Are my experiences relevant?
  • What will we have in common?
  • If they have a problem how will I handle it?

But all these concerns soon fade away as the well established structure of the sessions carry you through and confidence builds as the team share experiences over lunch and you find you are not alone with your concerns and you learn how others have mastered the process.

  • a flavour of what I do during a typical mentoring event

We have two main types of mentorship: for the girls who are in school and the alumni.

I started with the former and graduated to the latter as I felt could add more value with three daughters having gone through University and I felt my life experiences were perhaps too far removed from those of the young girls for them to connect.

Having said that, my most memorable experience was talking to a very bright girl who had always been top of her class so academics was not an issue but when we got onto whether she had any problems at home she told me she was scared that the witch doctor would take away her brains as her parents believed heavily and used this as a means to threaten her.  We spent a long time talking through how she felt and eventually through giving examples from her life and mine she was convinced that witch doctors did not and in fact could not ever have any power over her and we agreed to keep it as our secret. For something so far removed from any experience I had ever had that conversation and her renewed confidence gave me a massive feeling of achievement.

The sessions themselves are in two formats. The day starts with a group session revolving around a key subject of the day which may be ‘Ambition/Self beleif/Commitment and these are followed by 1-1 sessions with the girls discussing their achievements and issues since the last session and their goals going forward. With the alumni we have group sessions sometimes based on the topic of the day and sometimes reviewing more immediate and relevant subjects such as interview skills, CV writing and job applications where we use role play to assist them.

 

Amongst the mentors very few of us come from the backgrounds of poverty and need experienced by our girls and probably myself least of all so to have to deal with youngsters who are orphans, sole providers, from subsistence farming, fathers who are drunk or violent this is a wholly different world however our message that through hard work dedication, focus and the application of universal principles of success they too can rise up and beyond their humble backgrounds.

  • what have I observed about the benefits of mentoring?

Not only do the girls benefit from the programme but the mentors too benefit from deeper insights and experience of another side of life, which creates great humility seeing how the girls grow, develop and open up. Shy introspective girls given the attention they have never had, together with care, guidance and support will change dramatically and become able to overcome and face the world. It is also inspirational to see the girls who in turn give of themselves to mentor siblings and youngsters in the programme as they are both thankful and convinced of the benefits.

 

The greatest example of this are those wonderful champions of the programme who have won scholarships to the USA and come back totally unrecognisable, accomplished and confident.

Such journeys are not always easy and one of the most memorable learning experiences I had was with one of the alumni. It taught me you always have to see the world from the other person’s perspective and expect and deal with the unexpected.  The girl was an extremely intelligent girl who I offered an internship in our business. She started but within the first week disappeared. I was amazed as it was a great chance to improve her CV with a well known and respected firm and she had been so keen.

I called her to find out what happened and was told that as the allowance we were giving her didn’t fully cover her travel expenses leaving her US$ 0.50 short on a daily basis her mother had told her she could not return. Her mother had no understanding of the value of the internship and the girl was too embarrassed to tell me there was a problem. I am thrilled that she is now excelling, as we all knew she would and is another wonderful example of the power and success of the programme.

Mentorship is not for everyone but it is the most rewarding, illuminating and educational thing I have ever done. I would wholeheartedly encourage you join our team of mentors or support the great work being done to give a bright future to these wonderful girls who without such support would never reach their potential and the country would be worse off as a result.

Measuring success.

At the end of secondary school, pupils sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education and the grades

 obtained play a fundamental role in each girl’s future. Generally speaking, a B grade or above (B, B+, A- or A) will secure a place at one of the national universities in Kenya and, with it, the chance for our girls to build a future far removed from the poverty into which they were born. This is the overriding objective and ambition of our young charity: to give bright girls from poor backgrounds the chance of a bright future.

Some estimates of the number of Kenyans who move on to higher level education after high school are as low as 2%. In the eight years of our existence, over 90% of the 102 girls that we supported all through secondary school have achieved the entrance qualification to study at university. Most attend one of the Kenyan universities. 8 Precious Sisters have won a scholarship to study in the USA – through links with another Kenyan charity called Zawadi.