In August this year, 23-year-old Pauline Kachinja will be graduating from Moi University with a Bachelors Degree in Education. Already, Pauline is set for higher heights; she wants to improve the living standards of marginalized communities by imparting financial literacy skills to young people while working as a community development worker and a teacher in the remote areas.
“The classroom is such a small place for me to exploit my potential. I won’t get any pleasure teaching in good schools with adequate facilities, instead I want to go out there and engage various groups in marginalized communities and help address their needs,” says Pauline.
The Starehe Girls High School alumnus says she has been able to learn and develop her abilities beyond what the degree course she completed in December last year offered courtesy of the Global Give Back Circle. The Circle is the largest gender-based tertiary education programme for girls from poor backgrounds in Kenya.
“Getting into the programme was a tough affair as we were 80 students and the process was only recruiting 30 beneficiaries. I was lucky to be selected in a process that was based on leadership qualities, spirit of selfless service to the society, diligence and discipline,” explains Pauline who joined the Circle in Form Three, almost five years ago.
Thanks to the GGBC process, each girl enters a programme of empowerment and is assigned a dedicated mentor who provides continuous mentorship throughout secondary and tertiary education. The beneficiaries also undergo intensive workshops in life-skills including financial literacy and reproductive health as well as an eight-month Information Technology (IT) course at an IT lab sponsored by Microsoft, Safaricom and other corporate sponsors.
Through the financial literacy workshops, Pauline says she has been able to inculcate a culture of savings and has been able to put aside Ksh2,500 every month in a fixed deposit account since she joined the University. She plans to use part of her savings to open a boutique either in Nakuru or Nairobi. Pauline together with five other girls from her school have also invested the part of their savings in the Nairobi Securities Exchange and boasts of being a shareholder in a number of blue chip firms in Kenya.
The last born sibling in a family of five, Pauline boasts of having bought shares in various blue chip companies after she joined hands with other five girls in the Circle to invest through the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE). As a group, they used to save Ksh1,500 a month from their semester allowance of KES 30,000.
“One might think that I had a lot of money to spare for me to invest in the course but that couldn’t be further from the truth. From the KES 30,000 that I am given as an allowance for the three months am in school by KCDF, I set aside the money beforehand – I save before I spend as opposed to saving from what has been left.
This is an attribute that I learned in the financial literacy session which has really improved my financial stance.,” she says, exuding confidence.
Pauline has traveled to several countries such as USA, France and China to attend conferences on leadership, economy & finance and environment among through the Circle which has empowered her to be confident and have foresight on where she want to be in the future. She says the international conferences has broadened her view in life and prepared her to play her part in addressing challenges facing marginalized communities.
As a way of giving back to the society, Pauline has been involved in a peace initiative founded in 2012 to preach harmonious co-existence among communities in Uasin Gishu County, which was one of the hotspots during the violence that hit the country following the 2007 general election.
“In the Circle we are taught the discipline of giving back to the community in terms of time and skills. Given that our Campus is located in an area that was worst hit by the post-election violence, it became imperative for me to be part of the peace process ahead of the 2013 polls,” she says. The group intends to transform the initiative into a Non-Governmental Organisation and scale up its activities to other parts of the country.
Pauline is also involved in a Christian movement, FOCUS, which recruits fresh graduates to participate in church and community activities.
About Global Give Back Circle
The Global Give Back Circle is a once-tiny Clinton Global Initiative Commitment that has blossomed into the largest gender-based tertiary education and mentoring program for at-risk girls in Kenya through a Give Back Process propelled by the Kenya Community Development Foundation, USAID Kenya, a compassionate private sector, a devoted local community, mentors and the girls themselves.
The ‘Circle’ is designed for sustainability as beneficiaries learn how to become benefactors through the registration of annual Give Back Commitments that guide them on how to drive positive change and create measurable impact in their communities. Seven years of commitment-making has embedded a powerful Give Back Ethos among the girls, now young women, in the ‘Circle.’ They are making a significant impact in their communities and throughout Kenya.