Gabrielle Fondiller, 29years, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Wesleyan University where she pursued a Bachelors degree in History and Government and will be attending Stanford University this July to pursue a Master’s Degree in Management Science. Her parents and 2 sisters are very supportive of the work she is doing in Kenya, where she has been happily living and working for the past 8 years.
Gabrielle Fondiller and Kwame Peter, co-directors of Hatua Likoni, met back in 2006 when Gabi had traveled to Kenya to complete research as an economist student. As luck would have it, Kwame was paired with her to assist in that research. It did not take long for the two of them to discover their common interests and passion for improving the lives of the people residing in Likoni and a strong friendship was formed.
Gabi and Kwame visited many homes in Likoni together and were humbled by the generosity and kindness of the families they met. They wanted to think of a way to return their kindness and after careful consideration, they landed on the idea of paying the school fees for the children of the families they had become close with. The sponsorship program they started was originally known to many as the Likoni Scholarship Fund (LSF). As time went on however, the program grew and began including more and more families around the community. They also changed the name to, “Hatua Likoni” which in Swahili means, “To take action” or “a step forward.” The new name fit perfectly with the program because that is exactly what Hatua Likoni is helping the youth to do; they are supporting the youth to take their education and skills to the next level, helping them to take action to secure their future and better their communities.
The Hatua Likoni scholarship & mentorship program is very well accepted amongst the people and with all the support and positive feedback Hatua Likoni receives not just from the community but the government, the program continues to grow. Currently, Hatua Likoni is sponsoring 250 students but Gabi and Kwame have even bigger plans for its future. They dream of supporting 1,600 students annually throughout the city of Mombasa. With such an ambitious future ahead of Hatua Likoni, Hatua directors and staff have already begun taking necessary preparations. For starters, Gabi is returning to the USA to pursue a one year Master’s Degree in Management Science at Stanford University beginning in July. Although this is not goodbye, the staff and students at Hatua bid her farewell last weekend. We are anxiously awaiting her return, but are thankful she has left the program in good hands. Kwame will now be the acting director of Hatua Likoni, taking the lead to ensure that all of Hatua’s programs continue to achieve their high standards of impact as we prepare for the future of Hatua.
We would like to wish Gabi the best of luck as she continues her education. Words cannot express how grateful we are for all her hard work, dedication, passion, and selflessness. Hatua Likoni would not be what it is today without her vision and actions.
Thank you and good luck!