By Naftali Mwaura
NAIROBI, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Sarafina Lorriakwe was born and raised in the vast plains of Samburu County in northwestern Kenya where girls have no option but to develop a thick skin thanks to injustice sanctioned by a patriarchal society.
The 20-year-old undergraduate at a Nairobi-based private university has defied archaic beliefs and economic marginalization to pursue a course in pure mathematics in the hope it will make a difference to girls in her nomadic Samburu community.
Lorriakwe is among hundreds of girls who are beneficiaries of a Huawei supported mentorship program implemented at the Samburu Girls Foundation where she found refuge from early marriage five years ago to realize her vocational dreams.
"I am lucky to have escaped the stranglehold of harmful cultural practices like under-age marriages to pursue education up to tertiary level," said Lorriakwe.
She spoke on the sidelines of a mentorship session for beneficiaries of Samburu Girls Foundation hosted by Huawei technologies in Nairobi on Friday.
Dozens of girls from the rescue center have benefitted from devices and mentorship sponsored by Huawei to motivate them to pursue technology related courses that would transform their lives and that of the wider society.
Lorriakwe aspires to become a data analyst after clearing her bachelor's degree in pure mathematics and hopefully secure employment in a multinational technology firm.
"Having gone through a rough patch in the early stages of my childhood, I have developed the fortitude required to overcome life's hurdles and hope to become savvy in application of technology to make a difference in the lives of girls from nomadic communities who often lack a role model," said Lorriakwe.
She was only five years old when her mother died and emotional detachment from her biological father who later remarried forced her to run from home and seek shelter among relatives.
The bubbly youngster found herself at the Samburu Girls Foundation that caters for girls rescued from forced marriages and female genital cut at the age of 14 years thanks to intervention of a well-wisher.
Jeremiah Kipainoi, a communications officer at Samburu Girls Foundation, said that material and technical support from Huawei has been a game changer in the lives of Lorriakwe and her youthful peers.
"Our girls are determined to become the next generation of technology leaders thanks to support from Huawei. Majority of them are now conversant with computer applications," said Kipainoi.
Huawei technologies responded to an appeal made by the United Nations Population Fund 18 months ago to support an initiative that would make a difference in the lives of girls from the Samburu community.
Adam Lane, an official with Huawei technologies, said that the mentorship program domiciled at Samburu Girls Foundation has been a catalyst for transformation in a remote outpost synonymous with high levels of illiteracy.
"The desire to be part of the solution to challenges faced by Samburu girls resonates with our ethos of dedication and service to communities where we work," said Lane.
He said that creating a critical mass of young girls from nomadic communities who are technology savvy will have positive ripple effects in the country.
Nancy Loisiodo, an 18-year-old high school graduate who was rescued from forced marriage when she was an adolescent and managed to pursue high school education courtesy of Samburu Girls Foundation, looks forward toa engineering major at the university.
"I loved mathematics and science subjects while in high school and hope to pursue engineering related courses in the university," said Loisiodo.
"As a beneficiary of Huawei mentorship program, I am committed to motivating younger girls in my community to take up technical courses given the potential to transform their lives," She added.
Rael Jinais, another 18-year-old high school graduate who was also rescued from a forced marriage said that Huawei mentorship program has boosted her digital literacy and life's skills.
"I feel relieved now that I have basic knowledge on how to operate devices like computers and tablets. This is a rare feat for a girl from a community that has historically never seen the value of educating us," Rael said.
She vowed to be a role model for the girls in the nomadic Samburu community by pursuing an undergraduate degree course that has a technical bias but can guarantee her gainful employment.