THE KDEF STORY
Sarah Hadden and Kura Omar met during a trip to Kenya that Sarah made in 2010. Kura, a native of Northern Kenya, was working at the time for an NGO working to empower ultra-poor women in the arid north of the country. Sarah, a trained teacher and health educator, was especially moved after witnessing the widespread poverty and the lack of even basic supplies and resources in the schools. She knew she wanted to help. For Kura, there was a personal motivation: a generous donor in the US had financed his education and that has made all the difference in his life. Deciding to put their skill sets and talents to work on behalf of area students, Sarah and Kura launched the Kenya Drylands Education Fund (KDEF), designed primarily to help girls stay in school. They began distributing washable, reusable sanitary pads, underwear and soap packaged as Opportunity Kits. To date, over 8,000 Kits have been delivered to girls in primary schools in Marsabit and Samburu Counties.
Sarah and Kura also noticed that transition rates from primary to secondary school in this region were very low. A high school education in Kenya is not free and many deserving students are denied this opportunity because their families cannot afford the school fees. To address this situation, KDEF started a scholarship program to lift barriers for needy students from Marsabit and Samburu Counties. It began with just 4 students chosen on the basis of demonstrated academic success and clear financial need. Today, there are more than 57 sponsored students in our program, 80% of whom are girls and 20% are boys.
KDEF aims to educate the whole student and to that end their program includes a Mentorship component. Once a year all the sponsored students are gathered in one location for 3 days of discussion on social issues, health concerns and other life skills.
KDEF through support from Vibrant Village Foundation creates conducive environment for learners through construction of classes, sanitation facilities and water resources.
Sarah serves as KDEF’s Executive Director and lives and works in Manchester, Vermont while Kura, KDEF’s Country Director, runs the operations in Kenya with support from two other locals.