For many at Our Lady Queen of Peace Secondary School in Western Kenya, making ends meet is a daily struggle. Students quietly endure, suffering silently and working patiently, hoping that one day their education will transform their lives and the lives of their families. Phoebe and Eunice are two young girls who want to overcome their circumstances and rewrite their destinies.
“These are special girls who have a story worth sharing,” says Louise, their guidance counselor.
Phoebe is seventeen years old, in Form Two at Our Lady Queen of Peace. She is the eldest of five siblings. Phoebe’s father was killed in 1999 during tribal clashes over land between two neighboring communities. Without her husband, Phoebe’s mother struggled to provide Phoebe’s school tuition fees. Cutting and selling sugarcane is her only source of income. Phoebe’s mother knew early on, however, that her daughter was gifted. At times, she would be forced to choose between spending shillings on food or school fees. “When I grow up I want to be a teacher. I want to specialize in chemistry and biology,” Phoebe says.
Eunice is tall, elegant, and shy. She’s 16 years old and lives at Golf Course Road Orphanage. Growing up, Eunice did not have the comfort of parental love, nor the security of consistent shelter or food. The orphanage cares for 30 orphaned girls, yet bunking capacity is limited to just 24. This means that some girls double up, two to a bed. Many beds do not have mattresses. The orphanage survives on the goodwill of parishioners and volunteer widows who do the cooking – when there is food to cook.
Initially, Phoebe and Eunice have warm smiles. They share visions for their futures. Behind those smiles, however, is a layer of sadness. A visible fear, due to the poverty they’ve endured.
Though from different families, their similar circumstances seem to tie these two girls to a common fate. But Phoebe and Eunice know they must overcome. Their innate resolve to soldier on and find success has made both girls exemplary students.
“I was awarded Most Improved Student!” Eunice exclaims with a sparkle in her eyes. “Going from the lowest in the school to 13th, then to 3rd. I also received a prize – a notebook, file folder and ruler.” Despite her challenges, Eunice has resolved to persist – and with remarkable courage.
Despite Phoebe’s background and the challenges she’s endured, her school performance has always been outstanding. Phoebe even earned a full high school scholarship through the Kenya Commercial Bank Foundation, a local initiative.
That meant that in October 2016, when Our Lady Queen of Peace received Buffalo Bicycles through World Bicycle Relief’s Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP), Phoebe and Eunice were both there to benefit. As the school’s counselor Louise explains, “The bicycles impact students positively in their academics and their households.”
With a direct gaze and the first among her friends to speak, Eunice whispers, “Thank you for the bicycle. I was always feeling dozy in class, now the lessons just pass. We are not even getting tired.”
Phoebe, the more outspoken of the two girls, shares the impact her Buffalo Bicycle has had on her life. “The bicycle helps me cover long distances in short time. I will reach school early to perform well in class. At home, there is a lamp. I use it to read Chemistry and Biology which I like very much. It is about what happens in our daily life. When I study, I get more information about me and other people’s lives. With science, you learn about the cause and effect. My bicycle will cause punctuality. Work will be easier because the bicycle produces the energy of working.”
Phoebe’s role model is the late Professor Wangari Matthai. “I heard about her on the radio. She came up with a law for those people who cut trees. If you cut one, you plant two. With the bicycle we will be coming to school, settle and do our work. It will change our grades. It will link us to higher branches on the trees.”
Phoebe and Eunice are just two of the thousands of young girls in rural Kenya who have borne the brunt of poverty and the consequences of insecurity. But they have dared to dream again. By supporting World Bicycle Relief you choose to join us in seeing a brighter future for these young girls. You cheer them on as they seek to fulfill their ambitions. You journey alongside them with The Power of Bicycles – and help them realize their dreams. Yes, together, we can make a difference. You can help these young girls rewrite their destiny, two wheels at a time.