By Catherine Kuria

The Wings to Fly program is a comprehensive secondary school Education and Leadership program for top performing yet needy students in Kenya. The program is a partnership between Mastercard Foundation, Equity Group with support of USAID, German Government through KFW and other partners. The objective of the scholarship program is to provide financial support and leadership empowerment tools to the scholarship beneficiaries. The total number of scholarships given under the Wings to Fly since 2010 currently stands at 14,168. Every year the scholars attend an Annual Education and Leadership congress to activate and inspire leadership as well as a culture of giving back to society. They interact with mentors, professionals, thought leaders, influencers and captains of the industry who encourage them to take up leadership roles in schools.
Nine Wings to Fly beneficiaries scored straight As while 107 scored A minus in the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education. The nine were among 1,309 Wings to Fly scholars who qualified foe university entry grade of C+ and above, representing 68.9% of the 1,899 who sat the examination compared to the national qualifying rate of 11.5%. The Wings to Fly scholars, who outperformed their peers, were treated to a celebratory breakfast event hosted by the Equity Group Bank CEO and Equity Group Foundation’s Executive Chairman, Dr. James Mwangi. During the event, Dr. James Mwangi inspired the young scholars to continue pursuing their dreams irrespective of their needy backgrounds. Further, he encouraged the young scholars to be good ambassadors of the Wings to Fly initiative, noting that it is through the programme that most scholars lives continue to be transformed.
“Today we are honoring and recognizing efforts and achievement in your KCSE examinations. You are distinguished because you have demonstrated your commitment, strength and determination to move forward. Equity Group is proud to be associated with you and we share in your joy. As you join the Equity Bank Paid Internship Programme, we look forward to growing and enhancing this relationship for you to become even better members of the society,” Dr. James Mwangi told the scholars present. He added that the outstanding performance that the scholars have demonstrated over the years was a motivating factor for other partners to join the program and extend generous support thus contributing to the expansion of the scholarship opportunities to more deserving academically gifted children.
“I am pleased that these scholars continue to reward our efforts by working hard to get the scores we are witnessing. This is quite encouraging as we move into the next intake of the 2018 Cohort. I am happy to confirm that these nine scholars together with the other 133 who scored A’ nationally plus 107 Wings to Fly scholars who scored A’ minus, will join the Equity Bank paid internship program alongside the top boy and girl with an A’ minus from each Sub-County where Equity Bank has a branch,” he said.

Maxwell Ojiambo
Maxwell was a student at St. Francis Education Centre where he scored 408 marks in his KCPE. He joined Kanga High School through the help of the Wings to Fly program and sat for his KCSE last year and managed an A plain. In high school, he was the chairperson debate club, mathematics club, language and science tutor
“I come from a family of eight and both of my parents lack a stable source of income. My dad lost his job when I was 2 months old. My mom tried out business ventures but failed due to mental health issues. We were forcefully evicted from our home.” Maxwell has gone through a lot of struggle as a young boy from going to school hungry; being sent away from school due to lack of school fees but that did not deter him from dreaming and achieving big. He hopes to study Computer Science and is “Confident that he will be the next Bill Gates.”

Rose Wairimu
Rose attended Thangati Primary School and scored 418 marks in her KCPE exams. Thanks to the Wings to Fly program she managed to join Kenya High School where she attained an A plain of 81 points. Rose was a House Captain, physics class representative and chairperson of Young Christians in high school.
“My appreciation goes to the Wings to Fly program for the support I got to pursue my secondary education. I am a first born in a family of 3. Due to financial challenges at home I applied for the scholarship and by God’s grace I got it. We used to live in Nairobi but we had to move to our rural home in Mukurwe-ini because we were kicked out by the landlord after my dad lost his job as a casual laborer.” From lack of school fees and other emotional challenges Rose rose to the task and managed to perform exemplary. Rose is a firm Christian and believes that God is faithful. She hopes to pursue medicine and establish her own hospital to help the sick and also start a charity organization to assist children from needy backgrounds and old people.

Francis Edmond Otieno
Francis hails from Kisumu where he attended Kosawo Primary School and attained 424 marks in his KCPE. He proceeded to Maranda High School and scored a clean A of 81 points in his KCSE. In high school he was the chairperson of Engineering Club, class representative for Chemistry and a peer mentor.
“In my primary school years, I lived in Manyatta slums in Kisumu, selling scrap metal to satisfy my thirst for money. In order to make ends meet for my six siblings and I, my mom sold mandazi but that was hardly enough to provide for our needs. Through discipline and being industrious I excelled academically. By God’s grace I joined the Wings to Fly program which has taken me to higher heights. I have reaped immensely from the education scholarship and the leadership mentorship integrated within the program.” He intends to study Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Computer Technology.

Daniel Sabali Misango
Daniel attended Kosawo Primary School in Kisumu where he attained 408 marks in his KCPE. He went ahead and joined Friends School Kamusinga where he scored an A plain of 81 points. He was the Chairman Mathematics Club, Secretary General Science Club and academics Representative.
“My family lives in a one-bedroom house in Kangemi. My parents separated due to differences and my two siblings live with my mother who makes a living hawking soap. Throughout my primary school education, I often lacked school fees and books as well as other necessities. Nevertheless I worked hard and trusted in God.” Daniel is looking forward to join an Ivy League university to pursue architecture or medicine. He is driven by his dream to be a person who will leave a mark in the world.

Osuka Savin
Osuka was a student at Ndururumo Primary School where he attained 395 in his KCPE. He joined Friends School Kamusinga and scored an A plain of 81 points. He was the class prefect, Electricity Club Chairman and the subject coordinator for Electricity and Chemistry.
“I live in Huruma slums with my parents and four older siblings. Huruma is a crime-ridden area that has rampant drug abuse and one of my peers was gunned down for engaging in crime. I fear that this is what would have befallen me had I not got the WTF scholarship. I almost started using drugs but my teacher caught and stopped me. The program has lifted the burden on my family and given me the “wings to fly”. Osuka hopes to study Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology so that he can make programs that can monitor circulation of money.

Dalmsas Noel Oduory
Dalmsas went to Eshirumbwe Primary school attaining 392 marks. He went to Kapsabet High School and scored an A of 81 points. In high school, he was the class prefect, Computer and Kiswahili subject representative.“I’m the third born in a family of five, raised by both parents until my father passed on in 2013. I was suspended from school due to fees arrears of Ksh2, 800 right before my exam. My father was bedridden and my mom sold vegetables while I sold firewood to support dad and the five of us. Our family did not own land and unfortunately my father died just a week before I sat for my KCPE.” Dalmsas is assured of doing Electrical Engineering and has the desire to achieve his dream and help others achieve theirs.

Lillian Chepkoech
From Kapsimbeiyo Primary School to Acacia Grassland Academy attaining 388 marks, Lillian sure is a bright girl. She attended Mary Mount Girls High School and attained an A of 81 points. There she was the Laboratory Captain, CU secretary, treasurer of Mathematics Club, WTF representative and a peer counsellor.
“Ever since school, people told me I was a bright child. I was always top in class at Kapsimbeiyo Primary School. Both teachers and parents urged my father to take me to a better school. But my parents couldn’t since it was already hard to cater for essentials like food so I continued in the same school. I got lucky in class 7 third term and passed an interview for a scholarship to join Acacia Grassland Academy. Then I scored 388 marks in KCPE which bagged me a scholarship with the WTF program.” Lillian is thankful to the Equity Group Foundation for reaching out to a bright determined girl from a disadvantaged background.

Phylis Adhiambo
Phylis attended St. Mary’s Girls Primary School and scored 401 marks. Through the WTF scholarship, she was enrolled in Karima Girls High School and finished her O levels last year attaining a clean A plain. There, she was the Library Captain, chairlady of the WTF, chairlady and representative of Mathematics Club.
“I’m the third born in a family of nine children. My father does odd jobs, mainly jua kali while my mother makes a living by washing clothes for our neighbors. Their income hardly makes ends meet. But the greatest challenge was enduring living in a tent after being internally displaced during the 2007-2008 post-election violence. It was painful watching my younger siblings being rained on when there was nothing I could do. We went to bed hungry on many occasions.” Phylis says that the anger she feels for living in hardship pushes her to work towards a better tomorrow and each morning she is driven by the prospects of a better future. She thanks Dr. James Mwangi and the EGF for allowing her to become a better person by enabling her to unleash her potential.



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