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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What To Do With $1,500

What can I do with $1,500?
  • I could pay rent for one month in some US cities. 
  • I could buy a fancy 4K television. 
  • I could buy a nice camera or a decent telephoto lens.
  • I could go shopping and buy some nice clothes.
  • I could buy a couple of the latest smart phones.
Or, I could change a life by making a charitable contribution to the Save the Elephants scholarship fund. This will pay for one year of high school for a deserving student in Kenya. This is what I have chosen to do.

My $1,500 annual donation helps provide education, uniforms and supplies for a young lady named Jecinta, who was left orphaned when her parents died of AIDS. She was taken in by an older brother with a family of his own. The brother can't afford to send Jecinta to school. If she doesn't go to school, she will spend her life herding goats or cattle. She might be married off at a very young age and end up taking care of a husband and several children. Instead, she is attending high school.

This young lady has dreams of a better life. She wants to work in the medical field, hopefully as a doctor. If she can't get into medical school, she wants to become a nurse or a pharmacist. Despite the challenges of going to a new school and having to learn twice as many subjects as in her primary school (including physics and chemistry), her first semester grade average was B-. (Kenyan schools typically start in early January). She wasn't satisfied with that grade, however, writing that "it was very painful" for her to get that grade. She has promised to work even harder the next semester. She also has joined her school's wildlife club and vows to work to protect Kenya's wildlife, particularly elephants.

So far 129 students have completed their secondary school education under this program, with 10 currently in college. One, who completed his secondary education in 2005, emerged as the top student in his district. With the help of the program and his sponsor, in 2013 he completed his 6-year medical degree at Nairobi University and is now a doctor in that district. Another, the program's first-ever scholarship student to get straight ‘A’s in his final exams, has graduated with first class honors in geospatial engineering at the University of Nairobi, a path that has led him back to studying the very elephants that brought him his education.

I can think of nothing more worthwhile on which to spend $1,500 than providing an education for a deserving, intelligent student. I chose to sponsor a female student because opportunities for girls are fewer than for boys. 

One day I hope to meet Jecinta in person. Because her school is in Samburu, in northern Kenya, I likely won't get to meet her during my next trip there. She will be in school. But I have bought five books, a photo album (with pictures of me, my family and house) and a New Mexico T-shirt that I will give to a Save the Elephants representative in Nairobi to give to her during their next meeting. I also will send a letter of encouragement to this blossoming young scholar. 

For more information about sponsoring a deserving student, go to