Meet Laurine and John July 11, 2012 by Carolina For Kibera
It’s been 6 months since we lost our dear friend and board member, Dr. Alan Cross. Our board meeting in April just wasn’t the same without his insightful wisdom and humor. As we continue our work in Kibera, it has been an honor to launch this scholarship in his memory.
Over the last few months, our team worked to set up the scholarship’s criteria and selection process. After much deliberation, I’m pleased to announce that they have selected two recipients: John Antony Mwaura, 21 and Laurine Oloo Otawa, 27. Both John and Laurine have a passion to pursue a career in healthcare. John aspires to be a clinical officer and Laurine wants to work in health records and information science. Both are actively involved with Carolina for Kibera, come highly recommended by those at CFK working alongside them, and have completed secondary school (high school) with good grades. Despite the pressure to provide for their families that often obstructs dreams of a higher education, John and Laurine believe that a degree will allow them to have a better career and through it, they can help both their family and the Kibera community.John and Laurine will begin their studies in September.
If you’d like to support the Alan Cross Memorial Scholarship, we welcome you to donate online here.
Laurine Oloo Otawa, 27, works at Tabitha Clinic on casual basis as the Janitor, earning a modest salary. For the past 2 years, she has been working at the clinic on a casual basis, cleaning and making tea for the clinic staff. Laurine lives in Kibera with her husband and two children. Her family has struggled with economic hardships for years. Laurine’s parents are unemployed, so Laurine was fortunate to be the only one to complete secondary education. Her four siblings all dropped out of school early because her parents couldn’t afford to pay school fees for all of their children.
Laurine and her family have had a lot to cope with in the past few years – like poverty and pressure from friends who have continued their education. Though Laurine left primary school with above average grades and completed her secondary education in 2003 with grades good enough to qualify her to join any government university, she could not pursue a degree because of the cost. Instead, she got married and began looking for small jobs to provide an income for her family.
Though Laurine has been out of school for 9 years, she has been yearning to do a Bachelor of Science in Health Records and Information Science and is committed to going back to advance her education. Professionally, she aims to bridge the gap in the record keeping in health institutions. In her past two years in working at the Tabitha Clinic, she has observed first-hand the gap in the records sector. She says she has been inspired by the work and would like to make a contribution towards health, however small it is. Laurine is motivated to give back to her community, especially young people. She wants encourage youth in Kibera not to give up. She wants to show them that there are opportunities out there and they can become whatever they dream. For many years, Laurine has been torn between wanting to attend college and providing for her family. She hopes to finish college so she can help both her family and the youth in Kibera rise out of poverty.
Mark Muasa, Tabitha Clinic Manager, thinks highly of Laurine saying, “Laurine comes to work every day and has very good behavior. Despite her good academic scores, she has been humble to serve as a janitor-work that most young people would shy from. She loves coming to the clinic to do her work and takes up more responsibilities assigned. Her humility, willingness to learn about health related issues at work, support to patients, and determination to pursue her career has been outstanding. Indeed, she is a strong candidate to support so she can pursue her career.”
Antony John Mwaura, 21, has been an active participant in Carolina for Kibera (CFK)’s Sports Association for the past 7 years as a peer educator for life skills workshops. John has four siblings and lives with his single mother. To provide for the family, his mother does casual jobs in neighboring areas of washing clothes and cleaning houses. She earns a meager income to sustain the family.
John has lived in Kibera since his birth in 1991. During the post-election violence in 2007/8, the family was forced to leave Kibera. What little property they had was burnt and they became internally displaced (IDPs). After some time they received some support and are now resettled on the outskirts of Kibera. Despite the difficulties of John’s family being displaced, he remained active with the Sports program continuously.
John’s academic career has been marked with difficulty – both academically and financially. As a young student, he moved from school to school because of his family’s inability to consistently pay his school fees. As a result, John was often out of school looking for casual part-time jobs, like day laborer work on construction sites to earn money to pay his school fees and provide food for his family. But John was persistent and at the age of 16, he completed his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam.
John then went on to complete secondary school. Considering his ongoing financial strains and the average academic reputation of the school, this is a decent score. His grades allowed him admission to a public or private university for a degree course (bachelor’s equivalent), but to date John has been unable to continue with his post-secondary education because of outstanding fees and the relatively high cost of degree programs.
John credits CFK’s Sports Association with helping him learn life skills like leadership, budgeting, and sexual health. He says that those skills have given him hope and motivated him to complete school. John now helps run the life skills trainings and serves as a mentor for younger players. Aside from his academic pursuits, John is active in various forms of community service. He participates in tree planting activities and community trash clean-ups, and visits the home-bound sick in Kibera.
Professionally, John wants to become a medical clinician so he can help his family and to improve his community’s situation by helping needy people. He says he would like to improve the health care and education systems in slums because slum dwellers worry about the situation daily and they are hoping for change. John says his passion to pursue a career in health is because of the empathy and compassion he has for the sick. He began choosing health related courses while he was in high school to help pursue his ambition to work in a health field. John is determined to do a diploma course in Clinical Health/Medicine so he can become a Clinical Officer (CO). A CO is a mid-level health personnel who offers various medical services-curative, preventive and rehabilitative services to patients. Clinical Officers supplement the work of medical doctors at all levels of healthcare either in hospitals, clinics or even teaching. John will join the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC), a medical and reputable government training college, in September. KMTC has more than 50 medical courses, making it the biggest single contribution to the health sector in Kenya.