United Kenya Rising (UKR) as a role model organization, 8th graders graduate, a new video on our education program, vocational scholarships milestone, more water filters, and photos of the month

UKR recognized as exemplar organization in family reintegration


UKR staff, officials from the National Council for Children’s Services, local children’s protection officials, and representatives from various children’s homes during their recent meeting hosted by UKR

On Friday, March 4th, United Kenya Rising (UKR) hosted a delegation of children’s home leaders and government officials from the National Council for Children's Services (NCCS). They had come on a learning visit to understand more about our Family Care model, and they left very impressed with what UKR is doing. 

As the world and the Kenyan government continue moving in the direction of family-focused care for orphans and vulnerable children, our partner UKR is being raised up as a model organization.  The learning visit UKR hosted was a very encouraging event, with officials from Nairobi saying they will bring positive reports back to their Ministry. They are hoping that UKR will be highlighted as one of the best examples nationwide of an organization pivoting towards family strengthening and orphan reintegration. 

We are thrilled that the UKR staff made such a strong and positive impression on the government delegation and also their colleagues from other organizations providing care for vulnerable children. Congratulations to the entire UKR staff for all of their amazing accomplishments! 

8th graders receive exam scores and look forward to high school and beyond


Trizah, the top-scoring girl among UKR's 8th graders, being visited at school by her mother Mildred back in December

Knowledge is power, and we are helping more students than ever to get the education they need to build better futures for themselves and their families. 

Eighth graders across Kenya, including 73 students from families in our programs, finished their big high school entrance exams in mid March. The exam scores were released last week, and students from UKR did really well!  Despite coming from the most challenging of backgrounds our students slightly exceeded national averages, a remarkable result in our opinion. 

Beryl, Emmanuel, John, Laren, Reagan, and Trizah scored in the top 8 percent. Major congratulations to them! Soon they will be heading off to some of the top high schools in Kenya, supported by scholarships from UKR. Meanwhile, 85% of UKR students scored within the top three-quarters nationwide, and 100% of UKR students attained scores that can admit them into high school. 

At the end of April most of these 73 young people will be heading off to join both boarding and day high schools under UKR scholarship. Others will head off to day schools supported by their families, who in turn are earning more income to support their children thanks to UKR's livelihoods program. As well, and in lieu of high school, some of the older 8th graders (especially those 18 and older) will be joining vocational training institutes under UKR support. 

Congratulations to all these young scholars for proving that even in very difficult circumstances, hard work and determination pays off!


Emmanuel was the top-scoring student among all UKR 8th graders.


Beryl made her auntie proud with a very high score; they are pictured here at home showing off a papaya tree.


Heavenson (left) doing homework with his sister; he improved his school performance tremendously over the last year to post an excellent result.


Reagan scored in the top 8% nationwide and was the third highest-scoring UKR student.

Inspiring new video interviews    UKR's high school students


Click the screenshot above to watch the video.

We are thrilled that UKR’s new media team recently released their first short video, a set of interviews with supported high school students. It’s fantastic!  

United Kenya Rising now has a small media team made up of two journalism graduates from the local university. They have been working on social media, a Kenyan-side website for UKR, and several short videos. 

Click here to watch the 8 minute video about UKR’s education programming that supports high school students. You’ll surely smile as you hear from four young people who, through UKR scholarships, have the opportunity to pursue education and make their dreams come true. 

UKR's vocational scholarships reach new 100-student milestone


A word cloud shows the courses being pursued by our 100-strong vocational training students.

In January this year, our partner United Kenya Rising in Kakamega reached a new milestone by supporting more than 100 vocational students with full scholarships for fees and school requirements. 

Vocational training is a crucial bridge that helps young people develop skills demanded in Kenya's difficult economic circumstances. By developing skills in areas like plumbing, tailoring, mechanics, and hairdressing, youth in western Kenya are finding new paths to their future jobs and small businesses. Hands-on skills can be applied immediately, bringing hope and building confidence for youth.

Our big push into vocational training is relatively low cost, averaging $700 per student per year, and most students are taking only one-year or two-year courses. We've been able to support all these young people to develop trade skills through a significant bequest received in 2020. To keep the program strong, however, we will need more support in the coming years. Stay tuned for our next communication that formally announces our Education Fund. Many of our longtime supporters are especially keen on supporting education, and this Fund will allow them to do exactly that, thereby helping many more young people get the training they need for a brighter tomorrow.


Hildah is studying for a diploma in electrical wiring.


Peris, pictured here helping his family build a latrine, is studying a plumbing course.

More families to receive water filters through partnership       with Water=Life


Family members enjoying clean drinking water after using their new filter

Last year we piloted a new initiative to help families access clean water using high quality, low-cost water filters that last for many years with essentially no limit on the amount of water filtered. 

The pilot was successful with most of the initial 27 families reporting they are very happy to have clean drinking water. 

Now, with additional support from Water=Life, we are pursuing the goal of all students and families in our programs accessing safe drinking water in their homes. A new consignment of 150 water filters was delivered to Kakamega in late March, and families are already receiving them. The distribution and training starts with those families facing the biggest obstacles to accessing clean water, as identified by UKR's social work team. Every water filter is delivered by a staff member who trains the recipient family on how to use and maintain it. Families, for their part, are required to provide the plastic containers that will store the clean, filtered water. 

A large majority of households we support in western Kenya do not have access to potable, piped water. Many families drink water from UKR-provided tanks that collect rooftop rainfall, but this water could still be cleaner. Moreover, rainwater from tanks is not available during the dry season that lasts several months, forcing families to drink water they collect from streams, rivers, community boreholes, and springs. In some cases, especially streams and rivers, the water families drink is highly contaminated. Boiling helps, but wood for boiling water is expensive and not all families are able to boil all their drinking water, or they do not boil enough water to hydrate properly for good health. 

Water is life, and clean drinking water is a major factor in living a healthy lifestyle. Contaminated water, meanwhile, leads to diarrheal diseases that range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. Clean drinking water prevents conditions like E. coli infections, giardiasis, typhoid, and cholera. We believe every human being has a right to clean and safe drinking water, and we are working hard to ensure all the students and families we serve enjoy that right. 

By the end of this year we hope to have provided more than 300 water filters to families, students, and even our staff (so that their families, too, can drink clean and safe water each and every day).

Big thanks to Water=Life for supporting us in this endeavor, and appreciation to the UKR staff for training students and families on how to properly use, maintain, and fully benefit from these water filters.


UKR staff member Beryl demonstrates how to back-wash using clean water and a plastic syringe, an action that's key for proper water filter maintenance.


A family uses their new water filter, and samples the clean drinking water that comes out of it.

Photos of the Month


The winning photo from November/December, a mother and her two sons in front of their home

Every month we go over the photos that staff take, and vote on the best ones to determine our top ten Photos of the Month. Check them out!

Click here to see the winners from January

Click here to see the winners from November/December


The winning photo from January, a boy smiling

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