We honour Ledama Olekina with an Intermix Award Positive Contribution Award for the difference he has made to the lives of so many Kenyan children, a difference that will not only improve their life chances but that of their families too.
Ledama Olekina was born in Narok, Kenya, some 28 years ago. He became a true Maasai warrior at the age of
15, when he was supposed to have killed a lion with his bare hands. In 1994, just out of high school, he
met a cameraman who was working for Reuters in Nairobi. Ledama showed great interest in the media so the
cameraman invited him to the Bureau, where Ledama quickly learned how to use the computer and the edit machine.
Soon, he was working as a newsroom assistant.
A year later, he set off to the U.S.A. with $12,000, the combination of his savings and the donations of friends.
He began as an under-graduate at the University of Kentucky in September 1996, working as a teaching assistant
and other part-time jobs to pay his way. After a short time working for Diverse Productions in London, he moved
to Boston to finish his studies. He finally graduated from the University of Massachussetts in 2001, with a double
Degree in English Communications and Political Sciences, as well as Minors in Accountancy and Computer Science.
He wanted to help the people of Kenya so he founded a charity, Maasai Education Discovery (www.maasaieducation.org).
The mission of the charity being to increase access to education in Kenya: to raise the level of education among the
Maasai people and enhance their ability to function effectively in the modern world without losing the essential
qualities of their culture. Ledama started funding for his charity. To raise money, he crossed numerous American
states on foot, all dressed in his traditional Maasai clothes, complete with spear and shield. He is planning a
third funding walk in 2004. To date, he's raised about half a million dollars.
With the funds he has raised, Ledama has built a high-tech education centre in Narok, which is opening next month.
The centre has places for 50 boys and 50 girls who could not otherwise afford a higher education. He has equipped
the college with 60 state-of-the art computers with high-speed Internet, built a library with over 20,000 books
and an audiovisual center with health-related and other educational materials, including videos. He is currently
establishing an art centre and internet cafe.
The MED charity also sponsors 300 girls from the age of 12 to 18 per year. It pays for school fees, transportation,
food and uniforms until they graduate from secondary school. He has delivered 160 computers to seven schools in Narok
(3 primary and 4 high schools) and installed programmes linked to the college. In addition, he has distributed 350
ALPHASMART devices (see www.alphasmart.com), a sort of mini computer laptop which runs for 700 hours on little walkman
batteries, making it ideal for rural schools that don’t have electricity.