Kampile Alice has worked hard to receive her education. From contending with the societal pressure to marry young to taking gap years in order to save money to pay for her school fees, Kampile always had her mind set on her goal: “To make my community a good community.”
Today, Kampile is pursuing a law degree to do just that—but in order to accomplish this goal, she needed some help. The financial burden of pursuing an education became difficult for Kampile to juggle, and at one point, school administrators kept her from continuing her studies until she could afford to do so.
So, she began reaching out for support; and through a trusted mentor, Kampile was introduced to Kapadia Education Foundation (KEF). There was no question as to why Kampile should be admitted as a KEF scholar, and she was soon awarded a scholarship to continue pursuing her law degree.
“I see it as a blessing from God,” shares Kampile on receiving her scholarship, “That's what I can say, because you don't know how it means for someone to pay for your school fees for the whole semester; and when you study, no one is interrupting you. You do your exams, no one is interrupting you. When I received [the scholarship] in my life, I got it as a blessing. Now I can read my books and no one is interrupting. I'm not worried about whether school fees are paid.”
"When I received [the scholarship] in my life, I got it as a blessing. Now I can read my books and no one is interrupting. I'm not worried about whether school fees are paid."
In Kampile’s home community, and throughout many communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, girls are often married before they turn 16 years old. From an early age, Kampile understood the pressures of her gender and the violence that could come from not submitting to these pressures.
“The only thing people knew was that a girl should grow up, reach 16 or 15 years, and get married and start producing,” shares Kampile.
Even as a young girl, though, Kampile knew that she wanted a different future. So, she made the conscious decision to continue going to school, even without the vocal support of her parents; but to Kampile, this indifference was a blessing.
At that point in her life, the other girls in her grade had stopped going to school, so she would attend classes with the boys in her community. Her parents didn’t question this choice until Kampile reached primary year six, which is when they stopped providing her with the necessary funds to attend school, causing Kampile to be unable to enter primary year seven. Year seven is the final year before a student can graduate from primary school.
“I asked myself what I would do: sit home or to continue,” Kampile reflects, “So I [found] a way so that I can continue to go to school.” This plan involved completing various community tasks, such as fetching water for her neighbors. With the money raised, Kampile and her friends would buy the books and supplies needed to attend classes.
And this is how life went for Kampile. Whenever a challenge presented itself, she found a way to overcome it and continue working towards her goals. Even after taking two years away from secondary school to work for her parents, Kampile stayed focused and enrolled back into school once she raised enough money.
When Kampile reached her senior six, all of her girlfriends had married and were raising children; but Kampile was still set on pursuing higher levels of education: “I had my dream. I thought, if I become a lawyer or a doctor, I may help my community, help my fellow girls, teach them how not to get married at [an early age] because … now they don't help the community. They can't help for anything because imagine someone who didn't go to school, who just stopped in [primary] one—maybe she doesn't know even how to write her name.”
This stark image is a reminder of the gender inequities many women face across the globe. In fact, UN Women found in a recent report that five million fewer young women will be employed in 2022 compared to 2019. Additionally, about one in every four young women aged 15-24 was not in employment, education, or training in eight of 46 countries with data for the last quarter of 2021.
Yet, despite these odds, Kampile continued on her path—and her community took notice. What used to be harsh words turned into pride. They no longer saw a young girl without a husband but an intelligent, hard-working woman who was breaking from her bonds of systemic oppression.
Once completing her secondary education, Kampile began making plans to attend university. In the meantime, she found ways to support the girls in her community and leveraged the positive perception her neighbors now had of her. Young girls came to her to learn how to cultivate positive communication skills, speak up for themselves, and fight against the gender norms that made them fearful for far too long.
In order to provide these girls with visibility in their community, Kampile began a volunteer program where they would plant trees around their neighborhood: “The community started believing in me. They stopped cursing me, they stopped abusing me, and yeah, they accepted what I was doing. They believed what I chose.”
"The community started believing in me. They stopped cursing me, they stopped abusing me, and yeah, they accepted what I was doing. They believed what I chose."
Kampile Alice embodies the true spirit of a Kapadia Education Foundation scholar. While Kampile often reflects on how she will use her newfound knowledge to help her community, her story makes one thing clear: She has already begun making that impact.
Looking forward, Kampile aims to complete her degree in Criminal Law so that she can expand and strengthen this impact by rooting out the crime that has plagued her home and, in effect, help people in need.
But that’s only one part of Kampile’s mission: “I also want to keep teaching youth legal skills, mentoring youth and young women, volunteering in the community…like cold calling for donations for the needy, support students in education and many different skills, and coach and train girls’ confidence and the importance of education. I want to make them useful, especially young girls—and these old people and widows, [they] need our help.”
Kampile’s story is one of resilience, even when the odds are stacked against you. Her story is one of hope for all the young women who dream of more than what society has offered them.
To our community, thank you for continuing to champion education access for students like Kampile. Your impact is felt deeply among our scholars.