Reason to give to the Zawadi Education Program: Betty Lukulu
When Betty Lukulu's mother lost her job at a collapsing international bank in Nairobi, Kenya, more than a decade ago, Betty's life changed dramatically.
"I moved from a private school in the city to a rural boarding school nine hours away from my family," says Betty, who was 9 years old at the time of her upheaval. "It was dusty there, and I had to carry water. It was very, very hot. And I really missed my family."
But Betty, 22, now a Lakeland College junior, felt fortunate. Back in Nairobi, she had seen girls with no path to education turning to prostitution or indentured servitude – which often involved becoming live-in babysitters.
"My parents didn't have any money, but my dad is a preacher, so I was able to attend a Christian school," recalls Betty. "I worked very hard, because I didn't want to let my family down. When you see your parents struggle, you feel like the only hope they have is through their children."
After high school, Betty applied at the office of the Zawadi Africa Education Fund, and her fate took a positive turn. When she found out she had been accepted by the program and would be granted a full scholarship to attend Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wis., she called her dad.
"He said, ‘God has blessed us,'" she says, smiling at the memory. "He was extremely happy. My sister was screaming out loud with joy. I was just speechless."
In September, 2011, Betty boarded a plane bound for the U.S. She hasn't been back to Kenya since. "I miss my family a lot, but Lakeland is my first home now," Betty says. "I really like it here."
Betty's already strong work ethic was strengthened by the Zawadi Africa Education Fund's faith in her. "It made me want to work twice as hard," she says. "I want to show everybody why this organization is so important and why they do what they do."
In addition to being a standout student (she's majoring in accounting with a minor in economics), Betty is an orientation leader, an economics tutor and a peer mentor on campus.
Her long-term goal is to work for the United Nations and become a diplomat who helps fight for orphaned, underprivileged or special-needs children.
"If you work hard enough, you can become a great role model," she says. "If you work really hard, it doesn't matter what you have or don't have. Good things will happen."