Girl Child Initiative Empowers Girl to Succeed Despite Challenges

Like other children from middle income families, Jacqueline Chepkemoi Selim and her five siblings had a good life at their tender age - learning at one of the high-end private schools in Kericho town and enjoying other luxuries that their peers could only dream of.

However, that all changed while she was in Class Seven at the Milimani Grammar School after their father, a veterinary officer, passed on plunging the family into financial insecurity. Her mother, a school dropout, who was not employed at the time took up the burden of providing for the family.

“My father was the sole breadwinner for the family and after his death, mum had to try her hands in several businesses including hawking unprocessed fresh milk in the neighbourhood as well as plucking tea leaves in the tea estates in Kericho to make ends meet,” says the 23-year-old student Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Nairobi.

Some of Jacqueline’s siblings had to be transferred to low cost schools while she was lucky to proceed with her education at the private institution after the director sponsored her to complete her education in the institution.

The prospects of pursuing high school education was also very remote save for her excellent performance in the final exams which earned her admission at Starehe Girls High School through the school’s bursary’s scheme that offers support to bright but needy girls.

Jacqueline’s major breakthrough in her pursuit for education however came in 2009 while in Form Four after she was selected to join the Global Give Back Circle (GGBC) process, having gone through a rigorous interview exercise.

“Looking back at where I came from, I must admit that God has been faithful to me. GGBC has been a life-changing initiative for me as it gave me the opportunity to assert my talents and skills in different areas of my life,” Jacqueline quips.

Through the initiative, Jacqueline went through different life skills trainings such as financial literacy, sexual reproductive health, personal branding and work readiness which she says has prepared her to face life with a lot more confidence. Through the financial literacy sessions, she developed a saving and investment culture which enabled her pursue a professional course in CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply) from her upkeep allowance of  only Ksh31, 000 which is granted to her by KCDF. Jacqueline and a group of old students from her alma mater - Starehe Girls, have invested in mutual trusts through their savings group which started in 2014. The group has also bought shares in Twin Hearts, an investment company for Starehe Girls alumni.

Jacqueline, whose corporate sponsoring company is Standard Chartered Bank, has a lot of praise for the bank as well as her mentor - Amisa Koor who works at the bank who she says has contributed immensely in shaping her life.

“Amisa has had a profound influence in my life. Through her wise counsel, she has moulded me into a wholesome girl that is able to handle physical, social, intellectual and spiritual challenges of life with courage and confidence. We discuss every day issue of life which range from family to class work,” she says, disclosing that they meet once a month for coffee or lunch with frequent interactions on social media and phone calls.

She also acknowledges Standard Chartered for sponsoring her education while giving her the very sought after internship opportunity in the banks customer service department, which has given her a sense of what the work place is all about. GGBC integrates partners from the Public and Private sectors from all over the world and there are over 20 corporate partners and International Organizations supporting the programme to date.

Jacqueline, who has just completed her Bachelor’s degree course in Commerce-Procurement & Supply Chain Management from University of Nairobi and expects to graduate in December 2015, has already secured a job with Rivieres Finance Limited in their Procurement Department.

Jacqueline is involved in various community projects as a give back commitment to the society. She is heavily involved in reproductive rights interventions for young boys and girls in schools through the Rural Reproductive Health International Kenya, a civil society organisation that works to educate primary and secondary school students on reproductive health issues. She is also a volunteer teacher at St Martins Kibagare Girls Secondary School in Kibagare slums as well as a mentor to young girls at Starehe Girls and Kekenya Centre of Excellence.

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