The story of John L is intrinsically linked with the story of The Red Rubber Ball Foundation.

It was during a visit to Mundeku Primary School in 2010 that Neil became aware of the challenges faced by families trying to pay for their children to attend secondary school.

John had completed primary school at Mundeku and achieved a score of 325 out of 500.  This is the equivalent of a B grade and an excellent result.  However Neil was told that John would not be going on to secondary school.  His mum was raising John and his siblings alone and could not afford the fees.  In Kenya, all secondary schools charge fees.

Neil and Deb offered to pay his school fees for the four years of secondary school, and John was able to take up his place at nearby Namasoli Secondary School.  He became the first student to receive a Red Rubber Ball Foundation scholarship – the first of what have now been 308 scholarships.

He completed his education at Namasoli and in 2014 achieved a C grade in the final KCSE exams.

Life then became challenging for John.  Work is hard to find for many students leaving school and most people in Kenya have a ‘side hustle’.  He began by working as a house help earning around 4,000 Ksh a month (about £25).  John survived by looking for work day by day and moved to Nairobi hoping for better chances and some days would find work on building sites.  However on other days he would have no work, meaning an uncertain life.

This is how life has been over the years.  He tried his own ventures, including selling traditional foods at a stall on the street.  It has been a hard life, but John has persevered.  He now works as a gardener.

John has been married for seven years, with two children, both in school, and the struggles he has faced have taken him back into class, looking to change his situation. In 2023 John returned to college in the evenings after work to study Accounting at Belmont International College. John has now completed modules including Financial Accounting, Management, Maths & Statistics, Taxation, Law & Ethics, Entrepreneurship & Communication, and ICT.  He has eight credits towards his Diploma and has a brighter future ahead.

John L’s story is important, and not just because he was the very first student to receive a RRBF scholarship.  Not all sponsored students will go on to university and this isn’t always the answer.  Some students need to find their own way and being able to complete secondary school allows them to do that.   Sometimes we all just need support while we find our own way.

John L

John L at Namasoli Secondary School – our first scholarship

John L

John L now – studying Accounting