TU-K Student Scoops the Prestigious Wangari Maathai Scholarship

A Technical University of Kenya (TU-K) student is the 2015 winner of Wangari Maathai Scholarship award. Claire Nasike Akello who is pursuing a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Environmental Resource Management, was recently feted at a colourful ceremony held at the Green Belt Movement offices in Nairobi.

Akello becomes the third recipient of the award since its inception three years ago. Her love for the environment, passion and leadership can be traced back to the time she was eight, in her flood prone-village of Port Victoria in Budalangi, Busia County. Her late grandmother, as she puts it, was her biggest influence as she grew up following in her footsteps of caring for the environment.

Scooping the award epitomizes the value of sacrifice, volunteerism, passion and commitment to her undertaking. “I feel humbled and honoured. I know I have a duty ahead of me, to set a good example to the youth and the community,” she said amid smiles thanking her lectures led by Mrs. Gladys Kituyi for having mentored her.

A staunch supporter of environment conservation and a follower of the Green Belt Movement, Akello leads an environmental forum known as, "Return to Sisterhood,’ which seeks to empower school children to gain control of their environment. She has so far mentored more than 400 girls in various schools back in her home area. She has also taken up the initiative of training girls between the age of 12-25, on career development, leadership and reproductive health.

Akello explains; “We have established tree nurseries and we have planted tree seedlings with the girls. We make charcoal briquettes from cow dung mixed with soil and maize/beans husks.” According to her, the charcoal briquettes provide cheaper energy for cooking saves time and are environment-friendly.  

 She has set her eyes on clinching more awards and promoting the legacy of her mentor the late Nobel laureate, Prof. Wangari Maathai. The award will cover her tuition fee as well as support her tree planting initiatives.

At TU-K, Akello is a leader of the environmental Club which is the reigning champion of the Mazingira Quiz challenge. The club has interest in matters of wildlife conservation. Recently, Akello led the club in Zebra and Giraffe Counting initiative which was held at the Nairobi National Park.

 Other activities she has actively engaged in include; tree planting during International Forest Day, a debate on, “Hands off our elephants” which was held at Brook House School, Nairobi, among others.

The Wangari Maathai Scholarship Fund is an environmental innovations fund set up in memory of Prof. Wangari Maathai. It is aimed at developing action-oriented young people with strong values and commitment to the conservation of the physical and social environment in Kenya. The fund supports girls between the age of 18-25, who are studying in Kenyan universities and pursuing studies in environmental courses. The girls should also have be active participants in environmental projects.

Left: Ms Claire Nasike Akello receives the Wangari Maathai Scholarship Fund Award from Green Africa Foundation chairman Isaac Kalua at the Greenbelt Movement Offices in Nairobi. Ms Akello, Right, is assisted by Technical University of Kenya lecturer Gladys Kitui as she shed tears of joy. The award is aimed at developing young people with strong values and commitment to the conservation of the environment. - Photo courtesy of Daily Nation

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