Speaking at the Welcome Home function hosted by the Australian Government in Kenya on 18 March 2015, Australia Awards Alumna, Anne Mwangi, called her peers to action: “The Australian Government Scholarship gave me wings to fly; it has given you wings to fly, too. Step forward and people will see you… do your best from where you are and you will succeed.”
The function was designed to recognise 33 Kenyans who recently returned home from their studies under a fully-funded Australia Awards scholarship. The ceremony was held at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi.
Poster presentations by Alumni who had returned six months earlier showcased development-focused projects they are leading in Kenya. These initiatives demonstrated how high-quality education can translate into concrete benefits through the application of knowledge and skills on return.
From providing enhanced pharmaceutical services to women and children going to the Maternal and Child Health Clinic at the Rift Valley Provincial Hospital in Nakuru County to the private sector-led introduction of remote-sensing laboratory technology for soil testing that is improving farmers’ livelihoods, the initiatives of Australia Awards Alumni on return from their studies in Australia have a high impact on the communities they serve.
Speaking at the event, Australian High Commissioner to Kenya, HE John Feakes, congratulated Alumni for their achievements and welcomed them to the Australian family. He stressed the important role Alumni play in the relationship between the two countries and urged Alumni to cultivate the links and friendships established in Australia.
“Our Alumni bring an energy and excitement to Australia’s work in Kenya and help us greatly with our job of building lasting relationships here,” said High Commissioner Feakes. “Our Australia Awards program produces Alumni who will lead progress in their country’s development,” he added.
The remarks of Anna Dorney, Counsellor for Development Cooperation at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), further emphasised the commitment to nurture the life-long relationships established with Alumni. “The Australian Government wants to remain actively engaged with Australia Awards Alumni and to enable Alumni to build and maintain relationships through professional and social links,” she said.
Representing the Government of Kenya, Margaret Muia, Director in the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, conveyed appreciation for the support received from the Australian Government through the Scholarship program over the years. She commended Alumni for returning from their studies to contribute to development in Kenya.
The function attracted 70 guests, including 35 Australia Awards and privately funded Alumni, officials from the DFAT, representatives from Alumni’s employing organisations and other key Kenyan ministries.
Through the Australia Awards initiative, the Australian Government offers long-term scholarships, as well as short-term fellowships. Since 2007, over 300 awards have been offered to Kenyans and there is a large population of Alumni in the country, including both Australia Awards and privately funded Alumni.