Unlike many youngsters from Garissa, Umulkheir Harun had the opportunity to attend a national school. It was while at Alliance Girls’ High School that the idea to have a platform for her peers was conceived. It was not until she cleared high school in 2014 that she was able to turn the idea into reality by form a community-based organization- the Kesho Alliance. The second year student taking Computer Science at United States International University had the following to say:
Why did you decide to come up with the Kesho Alliance?
I come from a marginalised area and most of the basic facilities such as education are not so easy to come by. I was quite lucky to attend a national school and the exposure has really helped me a lot. I wanted the same for the kids who never make it out of Garissa by bringing such opportunities closer to them. After high school, we (the youth) organized ourselves and through membership contributions we started serving our community.
What exactly does the Kesho Alliance do?
As a community-based organization, we are trying to help the society by addressing the issues we face, especially education. We also focus on health and proper sanitation but education is our priority. The Kesho Alliance is run by the youth so we first started out with mentorship programmes and environmental conservation. We also offer trainings for the youth and encourage them to attend the county polytechnics. Most students do not meet the cut-off points to attend university so we are trying to convince them to take blue collar jobs. This, in turn, helps us fight radicalization which is rampant in the county.
What have you achieved so far?
I’m glad that the Kesho Alliance is now on a stable ground. We have successfully done trainings for the youth and they are willing to be used as tools for change.
Are you working alone?
We have currently partnered with local NGOs and the county government education sector. We are also working with the Kenya Children’s Assembly.
What major challenges have you faced?
When we were starting out, getting committed people was a challenge. Also, due to the insecurity in the region, most people shy away so getting donors is hard.
What next for the Kesho Alliance?
We are currently working on a book that will motivate the youth. We are working with Footprint publishers and we hope to launch the book in August. We are trying to motivate the youth by covering stories of achievers in different fields career wise.
What vision does the Kesho Alliance have for Garissa County?
We want to change the perception people have of the region. We hope to address issues such as high rate of unemployment and the under-qualified teachers in or institutions. My aim is to have a leading national school in Garissa County. Generally, we want to make Garissa better.