Kenyan Teen Overcomes Extreme Circumstances to Graduate from Secondary School
Salome faced long odds as she entered adolescence. Growing up in poverty, losing a mother and living with an alcoholic father will do that to a person. But a fighting spirit, big dreams and a loving support network helped this determined Kenyan blossom into a young woman with a bright future.
Salome was just coming into her “tween” years when her mother passed away. She had to drop out of school so she could work to provide food for her three younger sisters. She became the family’s provider and was often forced to fight off her alcoholic father from stealing what little they had. On numerous occasions, she found herself running to the local hospital, located several kilometers away, with an ailing sister in her arms.
Salome and her sisters were brought home to Belwop Rescue Centre (http://www.thebelwopproject.com) in Nyeri, Kenya in 2008. This ER partner cares for orphaned, abused and otherwise vulnerable children, and unlike some children’s homes, doesn’t set a cutoff age at which children can no longer live there. The house manager, Veronica, nurtures the children as if they were her own and works tirelessly to ensure their readiness when they do leave.
With counseling and support from the Belwop staff, Salome was able to simply be a child again. For the first time in a long while, she and her sisters had someone else providing for them, both physically and emotionally. She continued to keep a watchful eye on her sisters, but she now had peace in knowing they were all together, cared for and deeply loved.
In addition to a balanced diet and secure home environment, Salome received a private-school education through Belwop. Now 18, she’s a recent graduate of secondary school and is awaiting her exam results, with an eye toward further education.
Thanks to Belwop, Salome went from a life of instability and despair to one of immeasurable hope and promise. She recently said she didn’t imagine making it this far, but she’s also proud to have proved wrong those who told her she would never graduate. Clearly she’s a fighter, and now she’s an empowered young woman – one who knows there is no dream or task too big for her to achieve.
Hillary Wolfe is 23 years old and currently resides in Indiana. Since returning to the U.S. after living and serving at Belwop for a year, she balances being a full-time personal assistant with advocating for Belwop and managing its fundraising and sponsorships.