My dream is to close inequality gap in our education system


Q: Who is Peggy Mativo?

I am an advocate for education and a volunteer. I believe young people can make a huge difference in our society.

You studied chemistry and East Asian studies at Harvard University. Why work as a volunteer?

I saw a need that was more urgent and more important. We face incredible inequities in schools that serve children from low-income families.

You are the founder and director of PACE. What do you do?

At PACE, we believe every Kenyan child deserves a good education. Kids from low-income communities don’t get the same educational opportunities as their wealthier peers because they go to schools with a severe shortage of teachers. PACE addresses this gap by placing volunteer teaching assistants to support teachers and learners in these schools.

Highlight some of your achievements

In the 50,000 hours we have volunteered, we have seen students perform better in academic tests and join new extra-curricular activities. Through projects initiated by the volunteers, libraries have been refurbished, nationally competitive music teams have been trained and environmental projects have been established in different schools.

You were recently named by Business Daily as a Top 40 under 40 woman, tell us about it?

Great. However, these awards highlight the hard work, commitment and dedication of the great team I have at PACE. Since we started, our team of 300-plus volunteers

What motivated you to become a volunteer?

I believe we each have something — a skill, knowledge or talent — we can share. I am motivated by the positive results I see, both in the schools and in the lives of volunteers.

What are your strengths?

My key strength is in my love for learning and teaching. I bring a passion and curiosity to volunteering that encourages those around me to keep growing.

What is your main challenge?

Some people wrongly assume that volunteering is a waste of time because it doesn’t earn you a paycheck or give you academic benefits. This misguided belief has made a lot of people miss out on the benefits of volunteering.

Describe a day in the life of a PACE volunteer.

I get up early and more often arrive at school before 7.30am. At school, we work with teachers. At break time and lunchtime, we are marking books. In the evening, it’s sports, games or clubs time. Occasionally, schools let us plan career days or cultural days for the students.

What does your job entail at PACE?

My role as the Director is to share the vision, support the leadership team, develop strong partnerships and mobilise resources for our work.

What do you do when not in class?

Outside schools, we partner with rehabilitation centres and children’s homes. Whether it’s playing with babies or doing laundry, or tutoring, we are able to lend a helping hand.

What do you do for fun?

I spend time reading and hanging out with close friends and family.

Who is your role model?

I admire Queen Esther of the Bible, for her ability to lead with courage and clarity in a moment of crisis; and Manu Chandaria for his commitment to service and giving back.

Tell us about your family?

I’m the first born in a family of three girls. My parents are both engineers.

What are your successes?

My success is the number of passionate, equipped leaders I grow around me. Success is in supporting volunteers to develop solutions to the problems they face.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Ecclesiastes 9:11 and our National Anthem. Ecclesiastes is a humbling reminder that we don’t succeed because we are learned or swift or strong, but because of the favourable chance we receive. The blessings in our lives compel us to help those around us.

The call to action in the Swahili version of the National Anthem resonates with me: “Amkeni ndugu zetu tufanye sote bidii Natujenge taifa letu ee, ndio wajibu wetu”

Future plans?

PACE is recruiting volunteers for our class of 2016. High school graduates and youth (18-24 years) are welcome. We should all take time to do something that makes a difference to those around us. The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth.