Esther, one of the co-founders of Luanda Links
first visited Luanda in 2011 as part of a charitable project that linked her school, St. Michael's Grammar School in London, with St. Bakhita's School for Girls in Luanda. Esther was struck by the injustice that many children, particularly girls, in Luanda seemed to be missing out on secondary school education due to its cost. As a result, she decided to personally fund Risper, one of the girls she met while visiting the community.
However, while Esther continued to fund Risper's education, she felt that more could be done. She wanted to create a sustainable funding mechanism to ensure that more children like Risper could go to secondary school. She approached her university friend, Stephie, who, like Esther, is committed to the life-changing value of education. Together, they wanted to provide children in Luanda with an opportunity they currently did not have, to provide them with hope for the future: it was this shared goal that laid the foundation for Luanda Links.
In the summer of 2013, Stephie and Esther visited Luanda so that they could begin to forge links with its community . They were advised by Father Innocent, the community leader and parish priest, to deliver fairer learning opportunities that addressed the "plight of the female" , since girls and young women are far more neglected by the Kenyan education system. Stephie and Esther visited the homes of various girls to select five who had academic potential, but no means to realise the possibilities of that potential. After careful consideration, Stephie, Esther and Father Innocent chose to sponsor the education of Mercy, Diana, Imelda, Josephine and Sharon. These five young women are now all studying and boarding at St. Bakhita’s school. Boarding is deemed the most effective way to educate the girls since it means that they can be part of a safe, supportive learning environment without needing to walk miles to school every day.
There is a now a sustainable sponsorship system in place, whereby the girls’ educations are funded, and Stephie and Esther are in continual dialogue with the relevant community leaders in Luanda, keeping track of the girls' exciting academic developments. The girls are soon to enter their third year at St. Bakhita’s, and their education has been made possible by the generous support of those who have donated to past fundraising activity.
Luanda Links is a part of a broader movement that has gained traction in recent years, driven by eminent figures such as Malala Yousafzai and Michelle Obama, who have identified and challenged the gross injustices that neglect female education in countries across the world. An education will transform the lives of Mercy, Diana, Imelda, Josephine and Sharon, and were it not for Luanda Links, these bright, young girls would not be at school. To find out how you can help, please click below .