Chris Mburu grew up poor in Kenya, at the top of his class but unable to pay his school fees. He was on the verge of dropping out when a Swedish woman sponsored him, allowing Mburu to continue his studies and fulfill his potential. Now a human rights lawyer for the United Nations and a Harvard grad, Mburu has started a scholarship program of his own to give the next generation the opportunity he received.
I come from this village in central Kenya. I was the top student in the district, but if you did not have money you got kicked out of school. I used to be sent home for long periods of time. Even though I was the top student in the district, I still needed to pay. There happened to be a foundation that was helping bright children from poor families. This program assigned benefactors out in Sweden with beneficiaries here in Kenya. A woman named Hilde Back walked into my life and changed it. Hilde Back started supporting me through primary school and part of secondary school, and I became more confident and I was beginning to think that maybe I had a future. I wanted to start a foundation that would support bright children from poor families, a sort of a replica of the Swedish foundation, only that I wanted this to be a Kenyan foundation helping Kenyan children. So I decided to called the foundation the Hilde Back Education Fund. I'm based in Geneva and I am working for the United Nations, and I'm working for the Anti-Discrimination Unit. I work all over the world. When I was in Congo, I was a human rights officer investigating genocide and crimes against humanity. When I was in Sierra Leone, I was with a peacekeeping operation. In the Rwandan genocide, we had mobs of youths descending upon their neighbors and hacking them to death. You have so many people that are jobless, that are uneducated, and who can be paid an insignificant amount of money to carry out heinous crimes. For me, education is a life or death issue. Sometimes the roots causes of these conflicts are just sitting there, gazing at us, but we don't identify them, we don't put a finger on them.
Each year, the Hilde Back Foundation picks the top students from each school to receive a scholarship for secondary school.
Let's begin. How are all of you?
Now, I want to read the names of the children we selected. The next one is Moses Waweru Njeri. He went to Giathieko School.
Well done Moses.
Next is Peris Nyambura.
Part of the reason why I would like these kids to be educated is because when you have a society that is very, very ignorant, it becomes the breeding ground for violence, it becomes the breeding ground for misinformation, it becomes the breeding ground for intolerance.
Next is Patrick Kimani Nyambura.
You have to say, "I know that I cannot provide support, relief, and help to all the suffering that is around me." So sometimes it is just as good to help one child.