Lydia Rono ’11 Awarded Davis Peace Project Fellowship for School Building Project in Kenya

Lydia Rono ’11
Lydia Rono ’11

Lydia Rono ’11 has been awarded a Davis Peace Project Fellowship program grant of $10,000. Through her project, titled Education for Peace, she hopes to build one secondary school classroom and one rest room in Barekeiwo Village in Kenya, thus qualifying Barekeiwo High School for Kenyan government educational funding. This would supplement the one classroom and one staff room already built by the community.

In its fourth year, Davis Projects for Peace invites undergraduates at the American colleges and universities in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects that they will implement during the summer of 2010. The objective is to encourage and support today's motivated youth to create and try out their own ideas for building peace. Each of the more than 100 projects will receive $10,000 in funding.

In her proposal Rono wrote “The 2008 political upheaval in Kenya has created instability, has rendered many people homeless, and has also deprived thousands of students of their right to an education... The fact that the majority of the people involved in the violence in Barekeiwo Village were illiterate youth indicates that educating Kenya’s youth is essential to eradicate future violence.

“The Rift Valley is one of the provinces that has been most affected by the political unrest. In Barekeiwo Village, one of the villages most devastated by the violence in the Rift Valley Province, primary school graduates are unable to attend high school this year and in the future. This is because two neighboring high schools which accommodated the majority of students were destroyed. Almost all the farmers in the village practice subsistence farming; consequently, they lack the capital to invest in their children’s education. The nearest available day-school, Chuiyat High school, is approximately five miles from the village. In addition, due to an insufficient infrastructure there are no vehicles available to transport students.

“I propose to provide the infrastructure to bring educational opportunity to the Barekeiwo community by continuing the creation of a secondary school, by building at least one classroom and one rest room. With the increasing need for secondary schools, the Kenyan government is willing to provide teachers and classroom materials to communities that can provide classrooms. The Kenyan government requires two classrooms, one staff room, and one rest room to qualify for government assistance.”

Rono says that construction of one classroom and one restroom will begin in May 2010 and will be completed in August 2010. Immediately following completion of construction the high school will receive final approval to admit students, place teachers, and receive funding for January 2011.

Rono grew up in Barekeiwo Village and attended Barekeiwo Primary school. She says she “luckily completed high school with financial help from fund raising. The ravages of violence, in my village, are most painfully apparent in the lack of access to education beyond the primary level. This results in staggering numbers of youth violence and teen pregnancy. I am compelled to give back to the community by providing avenues for others to learn.”

Rono, a chemistry major at Hamilton, is a Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) student. She is a chemistry tutor, a teaching assistant in Swahili, a member of Gospel choir, the Chemistry Society, International Student Association and West Indies and Africa Association. She was a science research assistant in summer 2008 and 2009.

After graduation Rono plans to become an educator and to advocate for better education in underrepresented communities in the future.

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