As we approach Milele’s 10th anniversary we have been thinking about what Milele has achieved so far and how we define success.
The most obvious measure of success is academic achievement. When the children sponsored by Milele get top grades in a school or university that they would not have been able to attend without sponsorship then we know that Milele is making a big difference in that child’s life. We are endlessly proud of the children sponsored by Milele and they consistently surpass our initial expectations but Milele is not an academic scholarship. We do not consider aptitude for education when children are sponsored so it seems unrealistic that every child will be top of their class in every subject.
The Milele mission statement talks about ‘facilitating choice’ and perhaps this is more what we are really aiming for. Enabling children to have some level of control over their lives and the ability to make real choices about what they want to do. For so many children across the world their path in life can seem predetermined, reliving their parent’s struggles and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
For the children on the Milele programme, we hope that they are able to see beyond their immediate situation and imagine themselves having alternative lives. When they are able to do this we feel that they will be able to make an informed decision about their future and make active choices about what they want to do in life. It is perfectly possible that they make the decision to continue living in the family village and work in the family trade but the important point is that they had alternative options and they chose that life.
As Emmanuel Kai approaches the end of his university degree he is starting to think about what he wants to do in life. Having lived in Nairobi for the past few years he may have got a taste for big city life and choose to stay living in Nairobi, or perhaps he will want to go and explore other cities across the world or maybe he will want to move back towards his family and use the skills he has learnt at university on a project closer to home. The point is that whatever he chooses to do he has been able to make an active choice about his life.
I’m proud of all of our children and know that by being part of Milele they are all exposed to more options in life and that the choice of where they go will be in their hands!