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Monday, March 7, 2016

Buy a Photo, Change a Life

I love to travel, and I love photography. I also am a firm believer in the power of education to change lives and to make the world a better place. 

So when I heard about the wonderful scholarship program of Nairobi-based Save the Elephants, I had to learn more. According to the group's Web site (www.savetheelephants.org), they "work closely with local primary schools in the area to select highly motivated intelligent students who come from pastoralist backgrounds and whose families are unable to afford the school fees.

Sponsoring these young people provides them with a rare and precious opportunity that will change their lives.

So far 29 students have already completed their secondary school education under this program and 10 are in university. One, who completed his secondary education in 2005, emerged as the top student in Isiolo District. With the help of the program and his sponsor Chip Owen, in 2013 Anthony Lekoitip completed his 6-year Medical degree in Nairobi University and is now a doctor in Isiolo. Benjamin Loloju, our first-ever scholarship student to get straight ‘A’s in his final exams – appearing in the country’s top 100 students of 2009 – is taking on the technical world of Geospatial Engineering at the University of Nairobi, a path that may lead him straight back to studying the very elephants that brought him this far.

Dr. Lekoitip says: “I thank Save the Elephants and Elephant Watch Camp for all they have done for my life. They are my heroes and heroines.”

This program goes the extra mile to build both intellect and character, and the sponsor has a unique opportunity to be part of this journey. The students build friendships with their sponsors, and with STE and stay in close contact the whole way through termly letters and pictures."

The cost to sponsor a deserving student through four years of secondary (high) school is $6,000 US, or just $1,500/year. I am sponsoring a female student, who will be chosen in January when scholarship recipients are named.

I have set up two Web sites, https://desertmountainphotography.smugmug.com/ and at www.fineartamerica.com, with my best
photographs for sale. Every penny raised from the sale of photographs and other items will be donated to the Save the Elephants scholarship program. 

So if you believe in the power of education to change lives, please consider sponsoring a deserving Kenyan youth. If you can't afford $6,000 for a four-year scholarship, please help by purchasing a photograph. And please, share this opportunity with friends, family and coworkers. If you prefer to donate directly to the scholarship fund, please do so.

The Kenyan people are warm, kind and extremely nice. I have visited Kenya twice and I am planning another trip next year. The students are eager to learn, and with your help, more of them will be able to make their dreams come true.