I would not trade what I am doing at this point in my life, the creation of Daraja Academy, for anything… but, it isn’t always easy. Africa has a very unique way of reminding you that she is in charge, and you… are very small.
EXAMPLES: One of my oldest/closest friends Jabiz, visited campus for the holidays and I haven’t yet had time to blog about those life changing days. Daraja Academy went through a rigorous hiring process and has added two INCREDIBLE teachers: a young, bubbly, “I think outside of the box” language teacher and a science teacher that educational administrators DREAMS are made of. Having served as a Kenyan national park ranger, he can make learning applicable to all and in fact said during his interview, “to me, that tree outside is an entire unit: how its roots pull minerals from the soil for nutrients and its leaves pull energy from our sun… the bark and limbs are home for a myriad creatures and eco-systems.” As head master of the school and manager of it’s curriculum I am getting fired up just pushing these keys… yet, have not had a spare hour to create a fresh blog.
We are nearly done knocking off the dust and patching up the cracks that arrive on a campus that has slumbered as long as ours. But, things break and the nearest part is a 3-hour drive away. Things break and there isn’t room in the budget for the part. Your up-river neighbor who owns the flower farm forgets that he is supposed to release the flow of water at night… for two month
… and on, and on, and on.
Without, patience and a sense of humor this would be an extremely difficult job, and then magic happens.
In a single instant, every splinter of your understanding focuses in and you are overwhelmed by the most incredible feeling of awe and joy and gratitude — because you just met a girl who will soon be leaving the slums and attending Daraja Academy.
About ten days ago we began to interview students. With only 25 available openings, it is a very difficult job discerning who best fits the “Daraja mold.” Most importantly the young lady must be from an impoverished family who simply did not have the means to send her onto secondary school themselves. She must be driven and truly have the desire to better herself and further her education. Since we are working on a limited budget, it is important to find a girl who will not be easily distracted and drop out mid way through her schooling; thus wasting the time, effort and resources we invested in her and not somebody else.
I am happy to say that we are finding those girls!
Not every interviewee is a fit, but some are so clearly “the Daraja girl” that it is hard maintaining composure and not running after her as she leaves the interview, giggling, “you’re in! You’re in!!!”
Because not all of the girls have been accepted at this point, I will not use specifics in this blog entry as I describe them. However, I am so excited about this growing group of amazing young ladies that it would be impossible for me not to share just a little.
Continue reading “… and then the MAGIC happens” »
My friend Brent Jordan is an extremely talented local musician, and he is going to be performing at the Beach Chalet on Thursday, January 29th at 8pm. The Park Chalet has generously offered to extend their happy hour through the whole evening, so you can expect to get good drinks and eats for cheap.
The event is being sponsored and hosted by the Daraja Academy and we are all hoping to get a big turn-out to this event. There is going to be a suggested donation of $10 at the door to help support Daraja, which is going to open to its first group of students in February.
The money collected at the event will go a long way in helping the school get started, and to change the lives of Kenyan girls.
I’d love to see you there, both to enjoy some terrific music, but also to support a great non-profit. In addition to Brent’s music, there will also be a few videos shown, a local artist on performance, and the Poetry Store (a SF-based poet writing poetry on demand). It’s going to be a great evening
A school is so much more than a collection of buildings and books. Schools are a collection of ideas. Every school has its own unique collection of ideas that make it different from the rest, they provide it with its own distinct personality; it’s identity.
Daraja is a great idea. But, ideas require people to give them life…
Daraja Academy’s strength has always been the people who believed in its core idea: that Kenyan girls of poverty deserve access to a quality education. At its foundation, Daraja is the people who give that idea life – the people who go to the events, the board members, the selfless individuals who tirelessly sweep and clean long after fundraisers have ended, it is the donors. The high school students who belong to Daraja clubs in the US and the foundations that provide funding are equally important, as are you – by taking the time to read these words and allowing them to take root in you mind, you are a valued part of the Daraja movement and when you talk about the school and the girls it serves, you are doing your part to make a difference in the world.
But, if the aforementioned are the metaphorical muscles, which allow the Daraja Academy to move about overseas, who is the structure? the skeleton that holds the actual campus together here in Kenya? Funny you should ask…
Peter Wathitu, the Director of Operations, who has and will continue to be a commonly referred to character on this blog, would require an entire webpage to describe and explain just how monumentally important he is to this project. For the time being I will evade Mr. Wah and introduce the world to the three individuals who make sure the Daraja Academy campus is the amazing place that the Daraja Academy campus is.
When the Baraka School shut down in 2003, nobody knew if the campus would survive. In only a matter of months, Africa can leave her mark on a property. The severe sun and punishing weather plays havoc on a property and its structures. Mother Natures burden is second only to the toll any fully equipped institution, shut down for four years, would face in an impoverished nation. Most things of value simply disappear.
Fortunately, the Baraka school continued to employ Christopher Leting and Peter Rutere after the school shifted into hibernation mode.
Continue reading “Who is Daraja Academy? Christopher and Peter Rutere” »