How Education is Creating Change in the Western Serengeti

“Elimu ni shina la maendeleo” the Swahili saying goes. It means education is the root of development, and we here at the Grumeti Fund wholeheartedly believe that.

A survey we conducted in the communities that surround the Grumeti concessions revealed that low levels of education are one of the most prevalent factors perpetuating poverty in the area. Without completion of at least secondary school, individuals lack the skills, knowledge and qualification that are necessary to either further their studies or to be eligible for employment where they can earn sufficient money to provide for themselves and their family. That is why our community development program, UPLIFT (Unlocking Prosperous Livelihoods for Tomorrow), has a distinctive focus on education. Through this program, youth can achieve higher levels of education and employment, and it all begins with access to reputable secondary and tertiary institutions. In 2020 the Grumeti Fund is offering 155 scholarships for youth from local communities to attend private secondary schools, vocational colleges and universities to gain the knowledge and skills needed to pursue rewarding and successful careers.

But access to secondary and tertiary educations is not enough, because the vast majority of students in our scholarship program are often first in their families to attain higher levels of education. So, as these new opportunities present themselves, new challenges emerge. To help our students cope with the challenges they face in schools, we offer supplemental support beyond scholarships. For one, we pair each scholarship recipient with a mentor, an employee of either the Grumeti Fund or Singita Grumeti who guides them through their academic journey. These seasoned professionals are trained and matched to students based on career interests and aspirations. Additionally, life skills training, career guidance and internships are available to equip students with the tools and experiences they need to succeed beyond their academic careers.

Between 2017 and 2019, we have reached over 347 students from Bunda and Serengeti districts through the scholarship program. One of those students was Wambura Thomas who now works at Singita Grumeti as an electrician. “Honestly, I don’t know where I would have been if it wasn’t for the scholarship I got,” says Wambura. “It’s such an invaluable opportunity that I wish was available to everyone. My story is an inspiration to my peers and a catalyst for them to work hard to reach their dreams. It’s amazing what a little support can do! I am truly grateful” Wambura reflects.

Like Wambura, most of our scholarship recipients end up becoming sole breadwinners for their families and extended families after graduation. That is why higher levels of education do not only support the individual’s life but the livelihoods of communities at large. Once in a while, some of these students return to the Grumeti Fund to help further our work in conservation. Benson Benjamin’s story is one such case. Benson has been working as a Research and Monitoring Technician at the Grumeti Fund since 2016. He is now a mentor to other scholarship recipients and continues to be a strong advocate for anti-poaching in his community.

Investments of $1,300 a year have changed Benson and Wambura’s lives and will guarantee a secure livelihood for them and their families for years to come. We hope to touch many more lives and alleviate poverty in Grumeti and surrounding communities for good. You can help us in our quest by donating to this cause through our website here.