What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor, this Kenyan boy said… and he made it

Countries Kenya
Date 24.05.2021

Bernard Kirui was born in a village called Mulot, in the Rift Valley, Narok County, which is 240 km from Nairobi. His father was a farmer, and what he earned had to be used to support the basic needs of their large family of eight.

He and his brothers often could not go to school as they had no money to pay for the necessary fees. This is where AVSI's partner, the Missionaries Sisters of Catechism, came in. In 2007, they proposed that Bernard should be enrolled in the AVSI distance support project, given the precarious situation of the family.

Bernard was then in 8th grade (middle school) and thanks to this initiative, he could complete both his primary and secondary education. The payment of his school fees was taken care of and he received all the things he needed for school: uniforms, shoes, books and writing materials.

The project did not only help Bernard, but also his parents. As a matter of fact, they received training on how to manage their earnings and they were introduced to the village saving group, so that the family started to gain an economy stability.

What village saving groups are and how they work

Every week, everyone pays their share, on which a small interest accrues. They can also ask for a loan, but only for specific reasons or projects, that the whole group has to approve: medical expenses, school fees, a funeral, or starting off a business. In Kenya, AVSI started 144 village saving groups in some of the poorest areas, getting more than 2835 families involved in order to strengthen the bonds within the community and facilitate access to credit for the most vulnerable people.

Meanwhile, Bernard continued studying, assisted by the Sisters and an AVSI educator. He also started to believe that he would be able to make his dream of becoming a doctor come true. He pursued his project and eventually enrolled in the course of Clinical Medicine and Surgery at the Catholic University of Nairobi. He successfully completed his studies and did a one-year internship at the Narok County Referral Hospital. Here he was certified as a qualified doctor by the Clinical Medicine Council and received his operating license. Bernard then transferred to the Trinity Mission Hospital of Eldoret (north-west Kenya), where he worked from 2017 to 2020, also side by side with Italian doctors.

Earlier this year, he came back home, to Mulot, and started working at the catholic dispensary as the clinical officer in charge. Since joining the dispensary, Bernard has been able to provide medical services to many families in need, as this health center is the nearest medical facility for the residents of the area. “I am very grateful because were it not for AVSI, I couldn’t be where and who I am today. Thank you,” he says. "I came back home because with AVSI I learned how everyone of us can be part of the development of the community. Working here, in this dispensary: this is my way of giving back".

The distance support project in Kenya

Since when the distance support project was first introduced to Kenya, AVSI has been able to provide 12,000 children with access to quality education and learning opportunities thanks to our partners, located in different areas of Kenya.

In 1999, AVSI Kenya started to collaborate with the Sisters of Catechism, who are active in taking care of disabled children, fighting against the practice of female genital mutilation, and supporting the children and their families.

According to AVSI’s method, by helping the children, it is possible to improve the living conditions of the whole household. The children can act as the first links in a long chain, and it is certainly inspiring to see them growing and building something beautiful, for them and for the community.