Alice’s quest for education amidst a pandemic

Alice Atieno Ouma

Alice Atieno Ouma is one beneficiary of the Education for Life project. She is 18 years old and lives with her husband and child in Wakesi village, Muhoroni Sub-County, Kisumu County, Kenya.

Alice and Selestine (Education Facilitator)

Alice joined our Education for Life project in February 2020 and has been attending numeracy, literacy and life skills classes. She has an intellectual disability and has shown herself to be an active and dedicated learner in class.

How Alice got involved with Education for life

Alice attended lower primary school but dropped out due to family challenges and the lack of a supportive school environment. She was sent to Nairobi, Kenya where she did menial work for a few years.

She later left and went back home and eventually got married. Alice heard about the Education for Life project through a community event organised by the project. She went to the catch-up centre, where she completed project assessments. She was later admitted into the programme.

Catch up centres

“When they called that I had been chosen to be one of the 30 girls in our catch up centre I was very excited for the opportunity! I have been attending classes before we closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Alice explained. 

Alice enjoys going to the centre and has made lots of friends. Spending three hours, three days of the week in the centre has helped her. “What I like most about being here is that my fellow girls are very kind to me. And the teacher always says when we are at the centre we are a big family,” Alice said.

The impact of the project

Alice’s life has changed a lot because of the project. First, her literacy levels have improved. She also does well in mathematics, her favourite subject. Through the life skills and mentorship sessions that she attends, her self-confidence has also improved. She vividly remembers a session where they were chatting about reproductive health. The mentor took them practically through using a sanitary towel step by step. 

“It was a very fun session. We all laughed and learned a lot because who thought putting on a sanitary towel could be talked about openly!”

Better support and understanding

Life has improved for both Alice and her family. And her husband has been encouraging her throughout her studies. Her husband has also learned a lot about how to support her and understand her better.

This was helped through a workshop organised by the project for households of girls with disabilities. They taught them how to appreciate and support those living with disabilities. 

Impact of coronavirus

But the Covid-19 pandemic has caused economic uncertainty in the community. It has been a difficult time for Alice and her family as her husband works at a sugar cane farm as a casual labourer, and his income has not been consistent. To help with extra income in the family, she has been washing clothes for her neighbours during her free time. Alice really appreciated the support from the project during the pandemic, including the workbooks and dignity kit. 

With learning now resuming at the catch up centre, Alice is optimistic about her future. She hopes one day to own her beauty salon. She is sure that with the support of the project’s role models and career guidance sessions, she will choose the right transition pathway to help her achieve her goals. 

“This is the best project to have ever come in my community,” Alice said. “It has been helpful to girls like me. I am very grateful and I hope other girls like me will benefit from this great initiative.”