“Circumstances do not make a man; they only reveal him to himself” — James Allen
Orphaned at a young age, Luciana did not let her circumstance deter her from pursuing her goals. It was at the high school level in 2009 that she came in contact with Asante Africa and secured a scholarship. This new hope motivated and enabled her to excel academically until the university level, from where she graduated last month with a Bachelor of Science in Food, Science and Technology.
Luciana, along with two other girls went to Asante Africa’s first Leadership Summit, where they learnt practical skills designed to assist youth in making the transition from the classroom to the world beyond. This enabled them to not only thrive on their own, but also overcome obstacles to transform their communities into thriving spaces. “After attending the LEI (Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator Program I was encouraged to engage in a lot of activities while I was studying such as engaging in small business, helping others through the “Pay — it — Forward” component of the program, and manage life challenges.” “Joining LEI helped me organize a club in my former high school through which most of the girls were able to plan their future because of the dream mapping sessions we conducted. Similarly, topics like budgeting helped students after completing secondary school, and were ready to join university. When you are in university you have to know how to manage the money given by the loan board, and learning to cut down unnecessary expenses is very important. Most university students say that their loan amount is too little but the LEI training positively impacted their outlook.” She continues, “ I started the fashion business while in first year at University. There were other students who were selling clothes from door to door, and I took keen interest in what college students were dressing in. I started by selling skin tights and proceeded to skinny jeans, finally to dresses. Most of the girls liked to wear new clothes and would buy new ones after a while. With guaranteed customers, I was motivated to continue with this business. I sold clothes to my colleagues in the university to support my needs. I was able to overcome challenges as they presented themselves. The skills I learnt during LEI were my biggest support.”
As a food scientist using what she learnt in school, Luciana has been able to “pay — it — forward” by teaching her students how to prepare different kinds of food and use this as a way of earning money to facilitate themselves out of poverty, and towards creating a sustainable impact. “Today, along with my Fashion business, I also teach Biology and Food and Nutrition at Orkolili Secondary School as I await to further my studies in pursuit of my personal vision.”
Living without a family, and without supportive friends only added to the challenges. “Looking back Asante Africa acted as a mother and a father in my life because of their support, financially as well as life support shaped me into the lady I am today. After my parents’ death, all I ever thought I would become was tailor as I believed no one could take us (together with my two siblings) through school. Today that narrative has changed thanks to Asante Africa!” she says.
She envisions herself to be among the women who contribute to their nations’ growth and prosperity; compassionate women who, as mothers or guardians or leaders, nurture and guide the next generation — boys as well as girls towards greater equality, justice and prosperity.
You too can bring joy in the lives of students like Luciana. This holiday season putting “celebration” at the center of the season and taking the focus off gifts and giving can be the key to happy holidays that don’t break the bank. Click here to know more about our alternative ways of giving!
Written by — Winnie Njeri