Kenyan woman hopes help from Corner Brook friends will break poverty’s chains

Gary Kean
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CORNER BROOK — This time last year, Haley Kawaja was busy preparing a special project to deliver Christmas food hampers to hundreds of people in Kenya, where she was working with a humanitarian organization.

As another Christmas season approaches, the native of Corner Brook — who is now back in Canada to resume her post-secondary studies — is asking for more generosity to help a special young lady she met while living in the African country.

“Linah Khayosa is a young, vibrant Kenyan woman who happened to serve me tea at a cafe in Kenya,” said Kawaja in an email about her latest work of charity.

“It is her dream to complete a university degree and break the cycle of poverty in her life, so she can help break it for other young girls born into her circumstance.”

For the past year, Kawaja and Jacqueline Carey, also from Corner Brook, have been working to assist Khayosa earn that university degree. Khayosa is now entering her third year of university.

There was a point when it seemed like there was no chance of Khayosa pursuing her dream of an education that would improve her lot in life.

In her own words, Khayosa described growing up to realize the harsh reality poor Kenyan girls like her typically face. Her family stretched what little resources they could muster — including getting money from friends and government bursaries — just so she could complete high school.

“Under the circumstances, it crushed my heart there was no possibility of proceeding to university,” she wrote in an email to Kawaja.

Khayosa said her social environment in Nakuru, Kenya makes young people vulnerable to crime and drug abuse. Young women enter into marriages early as an escape from the hostile life that would otherwise await them.

Khayosa, who is in her early 20s, worked odd jobs for three years, trying to save enough money for university, but found it impossible. She would work 11-hour shifts at a restaurant and only make around $140 per month.

“This was really frustrating, for I believed in the power of education to liberate us from the jaws of poverty and usher us into that world that we only but dream of,” she wrote.

According to Carey, the average family income in Khayosa’s world is around $1,000 a year. University tuition is more than $800 per semester.

“No wonder it's nearly impossible to become educated,” said Carey.

With the help of her Canadian friends, Khayosa’s dream is materializing. She is well on her way to earning a bachelor of commerce degree from Kenyatta University, her country’s second largest institution of learning.

She is still amazed at how Kawaja and Carey have stepped up to help a stranger break the cycle of poverty so many other young Kenyan women cannot escape.

As an educated woman, Khayosa hopes to one day be in a position were she can provide the same sort of help to someone else.

“I desire to be among the force that will help those with dreams and desire to accomplish them through the power of the pen,” she said.

For Khayosa, the smallest of gestures will have a significant impact on her life.

“An African girl child is a flower in sub-Saharan desert that desires a drop of water to flourish, just but a drop and the flower will blossom,” she wrote.

Kawaja said she and Carey, who have been doing their own quiet fundraising on Khayosa’s behalf, are committed to seeing Khayosa through to her graduation from university with a degree.

“I know firsthand what a remarkable woman Linah is,” said Kawaja.

Kawaja and Carey are inviting anyone who wishes to join the effort to educate Khayosa to contribute to her education fund. All donations will go through the registered Canadian charity Reach Out to Humanity, the same organization Kawaja worked for when she lived in Kenya for a year.

Donations can be made by following these links: and .



Organizations: Kenyatta University, GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx, GiftCards/CharityGiftCardMultiple.aspx

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Kenya, Canada Nakuru

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Recent comments

  • Douglas Mwambuki Bulukhu
    January 23, 2014 - 05:44

    This is a grand Idea that serves to shine light to many a life here in Africa where poverty ravages majority of households thus making it impossible to access necessities in life. There lots of potentials in young people here that are dwarfed by lack of chance to bring there potentials to bear just because of dire straits that characterize large proportion of population here in Africa. I just want to appreciate you all for the initiative and the drive to be the ones shining the little candle that is going a long way to rekindle the hope in this land. Many thanks to Kawaja and the crew.

  • Benjamin
    December 19, 2013 - 09:59

    I'm so much delighted to read this, and even prouder that a girl somewhere will complete her University Education thanks to the caring heart and nature of Ms Kawaja and Ms Carey. So many girls(and boys) cannot pursue their dreams and end up engaging in criminal activities just to survive, extending the poverty cycle. Just changing one life will go a long way in unshackling a couple more. If that broken cycle persists, then generally more eyes and doors will be open to more people, making life a little easier. of course education only isn't enough, but schooling is an eye opener to the potential within oneself. I really wish Khayosa the best and hope to join her to beat these disparaging cycles