Grace appeared out of the blue at the foot of our veranda in Kenya about nine years ago when we were having our morning coffee. A slight, waif-like girl, dressed in hoodie and clutching some papers, Grace said that she knew we helped kids go to school and that she was hoping we could support her. She told us that her father, who had been a furniture maker, had died the previous year. Grace’s mother had sold everything that he had already made to cover the fees for her first year in high school, but there was no money left to continue her education. Her mother had no education or skills and made barely enough to feed the family by doing casual farm and housework for others. The papers Grace carried were her father’s death certificate and her final report from Form 1 (grade 9), her last year in school, which showed some really good marks.

There was something about Grace’s self-confidence and quiet demeanour that touched us, and so, after some due diligence (a home visit; an interview with her principal), we agree to offer her a scholarship. Happily, we quickly found a Canadian donor who was willing to help Grace with her education.

And that gamble has sure paid off! Grace has proven to be a bright and hardworking young woman. She did really well in high school on the crucial final exams at the end of Form 4 and five years ago Grace was accepted into first choice university program.

We are delighted to announce that Grace has graduated from Chuka University in Embu with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. And at this writing, she is awaiting results of her last exam toward being a certified chartered accountant, a program that she took concurrently with her degree.

Of course, we had no idea how successful Grace would prove to be when she asked us many years ago for some financial help to finish high school. She just looked like a great kid – bright, honest, sincere – and we thought she might be worthy of our support.

We are so glad we made that decision. Grace continues to be the self-confident, hard working young woman we first met many years ago. Blessed with a positive attitude and a cheerful manner, she is well on the road to success. Because of the education she has attained with the help of The Small Project, Grace has broken free from the cycle of poverty into which she was born. She knows how fortunate she is and has pledged to give back when she is able and to ensure that her own children are also well educated.