220711 new dormitory in inkoisukSharp-eyed Big Life supporters will have seen Richard Bonham and Samar Ntalamia on several national news channels in Kenya this week. This is because Big Life has just celebrated the opening of a new girls’ dormitory at Inkoisuk Primary School, located just a few kilometres from Big Life’s HQ in Kajiado county. After raising close to $80,000 USD from donors and supporters, the newly constructed 96-bed dormitory will ensure that these girls will no longer have to travel long distances to receive a proper education, making it far safer for them to do so.

Some of the girls who will be staying in the dormitory described how they felt about it:

Payiaton Kiariandi, 13, explained, “I am very excited and relieved to be staying in this new dormitory because I used to have to cycle to school every day which would take 3 hours each way. School finishes at 17:30 and I would have to cycle home in the dark. It was very scary at times because I had to cycle along the main road and there were lots of fast cars and animals around. Now I don’t have to worry about that so I can concentrate on my education, as it is something that is very important to me.”

Her enthusiasm was echoed by Veronica Nailantei, 14, “I am looking forward to staying in the new dormitory because I will be much closer to my teachers, which means I will greatly improve my studies. I want to become a nurse and now that I can live at school, I am confident I will do well in my exams.”

Grace Kipres, 13, said, “I am also happy because now that we will be living in the dormitory, there will be far fewer girls getting pregnant, so we will be much more able to concentrate on our studies.” This is especially important considering Kajiado county ranks as one of the highest in Kenya for pregnancies between the ages of 10 – 17.

Samar Ntalamia, who manages Big Life’s education programs, concluded that, “The best way to secure the future of wildlife conservation on communal lands is to generate tangible economic benefits to the communities which host wildlife on their lands. The most effective way to empower local communities is by improving access to education through students’ scholarships, as well as improving the quality of education by supporting local schools.”

We are grateful to have collaborated on this project with The Elephant Foundation, and thankful to all the donors who were extraordinarily passionate about making this dorm a reality. Improving local community access to education is just one of the many ways Big Life upholds our core ethos: that if conservation supports the people, people will support conservation.

Photo: Josh Clay

(Payiaton Kiariandi on the left, Grace Kipres in the middle, and Veronica Nailantei on the right)