Student Spotlight: Caroline

Our next student spotlight article features 14-year-old Caroline from Turkana County. Caroline is the second oldest girl and one of eight children in her family. Unfortunately, right around the time she was taking her exams to start form 1, her family's home was raided by livestock bandits. Caroline's family defended their home during the raid and managed to prevent the bandits from taking all their livestock. However, the few animals they had left soon succumbed to disease, leaving her family with nothing. Caroline's father then had to find another way to support his family and took up work burning charcoal. Despite working long, physically demanding days in dangerous conditions, this job barely generated enough income to cover the families’ basic needs. Caroline’s parents then had to decide between terminating Caroline’s schooling or letting some of their children go hungry to pay her school fees. Understandably, they decided to take Caroline out of school.

Gibson talking to Carolines mother

Like many pastoralist girls removed from school, the next step for Caroline was marriage. Her father arranged for her to marry a suitable man who could pay a substantial dowry, provide for Caroline’s basic needs, and ease the family's financial burden by reducing the number of children they had to support. However, Caroline’s mother was devastated by this decision. Desperate to prevent the marriage, she sought help from her neighbors. Fortunately, one neighbor she spoke to was aware of the Village Youth Fund and reached out to VYF field officer Gibson Ewaar to inform him about Caroline’s situation. We were then able to provide her with a scholarship to go back to school, meaning that Caroline no longer had to proceed with the marriage.

Caroline’s story is the story of countless young girls living in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL)of Kenya. In a region prone to extreme weather events that challenge agriculture, these communities heavily depend on livestock as a stable source of food and income. In recent years, climate change has exacerbated conflicts and livestock raids in the ASAL region as different groups compete for control over dwindling resources. Due to pastoralists’ heavy reliance on their livestock for survival, the loss of livestock during a raid is devastating for families and forces many young girls into early marriages out of financial desperation.

Thankfully, Caroline's mom could not simply accept this fate for her daughter and reached out to her community for help. As a result, we were able to change the ending of this story for Caroline. She is now thriving in her new school, enjoying making friends and the opportunity to just be a kid. Gibson was also able to visit her recently to hear about her progress and to interview her for a student spotlight article.

Gibson: Hello, Carolyn! I am thrilled to meet with you today for this special interview.
Being selected as the Student of the Month and having a dedicated article about you
is a fantastic achievement, and we're eager to learn more about you.

Before we jump into the questions, I want to assure you that this interview is all about having fun and getting to know you better. There are no right or wrong answers — just your unique perspective and experiences. If there are any questions that you do not want to answer, you can just say “pass” and we can skip to a different question. This interview should take around 20 minutes. Do you have any questions for me before we get started? Are you ready?

Gibson: What is your happiest memory?

Caroline: Those people who helped me to go to school because I didn't think I could go to school.

Student Spotlight: Caroline

Gibson: What’s one thing you are really good at that you think others might struggle with?

Caroline: I am good at history because it is very simple.

Gibson: If you were president of Kenya one day, which laws would you pass/ what changes would you make?

Carolyn: I will ensure all parents are not practicing early marriages to their children, to allow them to study and finish their studies.

Gibson: Of all the things you are learning, which do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?

Caroline: Science and English subjects because I wish to be a doctor.

Gibson: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Caroline: I wish to travel to England to see my sponsors.

Gibson: Who is your hero or someone you look up to and why?

Caroline: My hero is doctors because they help people.

Gibson: Can you share a story about a time that you felt really proud of yourself?

Caroline: Is the time I got scholarship and I will work hard until I finish my education.

Gibson: If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what advice would you give the younger version of yourself?

Caroline: I will advise them to study until they finish their education.

Gibson: What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now?

Caroline: I will study and finish my education, then I will look for the poor students and take them to school.

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