A few weeks ago, it was time for all the school aged children of the Lewa Children's Home to head back to school after the holiday break. 

The majority of them go to the Kipkeino school. The school was set up by Phyllis Keino and is run by the talented Mrs Sebastian. Located just across the road from Lewa, it is ranked one of the best schools in the entire country and many of its students come from the region’s elite.

It is a unique opportunity for the Lewa children to be able to study (tuition-free) in a competitive environment, to get the same quality education that children from privileged families receive. That said, they still face tough challenges.

Being an orphan carries a big social stigma in Kenya. Who your parents are and where you come from are a big part of who you are. Children are often called “son of” or “daughter of.” That means orphans are missing that essential part of their identity.

And as in many other schools around the world, your economic background doesn’t go unnoticed either. Phyllis does what she can to level the playing field. But, in the end, she can only afford the essentials. No fancy shoes, no fashionable jeans, no accessories or jewelry.

I remember walking the Lewa children to Kipkeino school for the beginning of the new term once. When I saw them carrying their belongings in plastic bags, my heart sunk. The other students were taken to school by their parents. And they had all the accessories that give kids their age a social edge: a Hello Kitty toothbrush cup, a Nike sweater, a new pair of trainers!

However, being able to sit here, study, learn, play sports and board in a top school, will give these children opportunities to transcend their difficult beginnings and become the leaders of tomorrow. Throughout the years, Lewa has provided excellent education to all the children it looked after. Many went on to go to college and hold respectable positions today. 

In each children that come to Lewa, we see the potential.

Thanks to your help, they can break the cycle of poverty through the power of education and reach for the stars. You can continue to make a difference by supporting our Back to School Appeal today!

Sylvia Costantini is the CEO of Bread and Water for Africa UK.

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