Nairobi — Stacy Awuor developed a love for football at a tender age while growing up in Nairobi's Mathare slums where poverty and other social ills have always conspired to deny youngsters a chance to realize their dreams.
The 16-year-old student at MCEDO Beijing school, whose construction was financed by Chinese firms, has defied cultural stereotypes and financial hardships to develop a sporting prowess that is adored by peers.
Awuor told Xinhua in a recent interview that she looked forward to becoming a football star and hopefully get recruited by the elite clubs in Europe or Asia.
"I'm currently a decorated mid-fielder in our school's football club and hope that one day the elite clubs overseas will recognize my talent and recruit me," said Awuor.
She was born in Mathare slums and was among the pioneer students at MCEDO Beijing school that has provided disadvantaged children an opportunity to nurture their academic and sporting talents.
Awuor has witnessed the learning facility evolve from a make shift structure located in the middle of a shanty village to a gleaming modern school thanks to benevolence of Chinese enterprises in Kenya.
"When I enrolled in this school several years ago, its classrooms made of iron sheet were a nightmare when extreme weather events hit town. The classes were dark, humid and unhygienic on many occasions," said Awuor.
She hailed the contribution of Chinese firms toward modernization of a learning facility that has provided her with a platform to accomplish a significant academic and sporting feat.
"The new classrooms constructed by Chinese donors have inspired us to study harder. The Chinese have also donated books and sporting kit that have transformed our lives," said Awuor.
Over two thousand children from poor families in Mathare slums have passed through MCEDO Beijing school where they have acquired life-long skills.
Benedict Kiage, the school's headmaster hailed the generous contribution of Chinese enterprises toward transformation of lives of under-privileged children within Mathare slums and beyond.
"This learning facility has provided a new lease of life to children and youth who had almost given up on life due to a cocktail of challenges like abject poverty and family breakdown," Kiage remarked.
Both the Chinese Embassy and enterprises based in Kenya have in the last decade donated money, learning materials and sporting kit to help upgrade MCEDO Beijing school.
Kiage said upgraded classrooms have inspired hundreds of Mathare slum children to enroll in the China sponsored learning facility that has been producing academic and sporting giants in recent times.
"We have so many young people who credit this school for transforming their lives. These youth usually come back here to mentor and inspire our pupils to aim for the stars despite their unfortunate circumstances," said Kiage.
Christabel Masitsa, a 17-year-old student, said her journey of transformation started the moment she enrolled at MCEDO Beijing school in lower primary.
The decorated goalkeeper at the school's all girls football club said she aspires to pursue a career in finance while playing football on the side.
"It has been a rewarding experience since joining this school where we study in a relaxed environment and are given ample time to pursue extra-curricular activities like soccer," Masitsa remarked.
She too has benefited from sporting kit donated by Chinese enterprises and has participated in regional friendly tournaments where her team bagged trophies.
Irene Mwende, a 12-year-old pupil who is an admired striker in MCEDO Beijing school's all girls soccer team, said the learning facility has motivated her to study hard while developing her sporting talent on the side.
"I would like one day to become an international football great and mentor children from poor families in this neighborhood," said Mwende.
She hailed Chinese companies for supporting modernization of classrooms in her school and vowed to pursue her studies with vigor.
"It feels good to study in this classrooms that were constructed by Chinese donors. Donation of learning materials like books, pens and geometric sets has also improved my performance in class," Mwende told Xinhua.
Victoria Mulwa, a 13-year-old music and dance lover who sat for her final exams, said her two years stint at MCEDO Beijing school have been rewarding socially and intellectually.
"I joined this school two years ago and it has better facilities compared to my previous school. The classrooms donated by the Chinese are beautiful and look expensive," said Mulwa.
She said that her academic and dancing prowess improved significantly after joining the China sponsored learning facility.