February 13, 2014
A scholarship fund that will send African students to secondary school was recently established in memory of Lousiville’s Dorothy Speier. The fund will finance the education of top students from impoverished areas in East Africa.
The first students to receive the “Dorothy B. Speier Scholarship for African Children” began their studies in early February. The students, Henry Odanga and Joyce Owila, are both graduates of the St. Philips Primary School located in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya.
Dorothy Speier was a native of Louisville, a retired registered nurse, a nursing supervisor at the Jewish Hospital from 1941-44 and a former co-owner of Speier Hardware. She died on November 26 at the age of 95.
“Dorothy had a huge heart,” said her cousin Ed Sulzberger, Executive Director of African Childrens Haven, the organization that established the scholarship program. “
I can’t think of a better way to honor her memory than by making sure that deserving kids have the opportunity to receive an education. Sulzberger and his wife, Linda Ercole-Musso are co-founders of African Childrens Haven, a non-profit that supports needy children across Eastern and Southern Africa
“We’ve supported primary education at the St. Philips School for the past four years, and have been planning to make funds available so that some of their best students can move on to secondary school,” said Ercole-Musso. “It seemed only fitting that we name the program in Dorothy’s memory.”
Primary education in Kenya is available to all children, though many deserving students are unable to attend and only a handful of graduates move on to secondary school. It costs more than $750 per year to send a student to secondary school in Kenya, an amount that far exceeds to ability of most families to pay. Per capita income in Kenya is approximately $850 per year. Incomes in slum areas, however, frequently falls far below that level.
“We’re starting with two top students,” added Sulzberger, ‘but we intend to expand the project in 2015 as we gain experience.” The project will be overseen both by Kenyan educators and representatives from the German community in Nairobi.
“I think mom would’ve been proud to know that she is being honored in this way,” said her son Ron Speier. “She loved kids and she placed a premium on education, especially for kids in need.”