Unveiling one of their biggest projects to date was a big highlight for the art club and all the Daraja girls. Earlier this month members of the club finished painting the Daraja gate, plans for which were started back in June when students from Marin Academy were on campus.
The gate – before…
The Daraja girls worked with the American students to come up with an idea that would represent Daraja and give a strong impression to campus visitors as they roll in.
Painting the gate was more than just a task in art club, says Alice A., a second year student. It has helped the girls recognize their artistic gifts as well. “Being able to draw and paint are talents we wouldn’t have discovered without Daraja.”
With some good time management the girls were able to fit this huge project into their final term schedules. They are so proud of the results! Amazing job, girls!
… and after! (With Mesret)
For many of the girls, a highlight of this past term was when four ladies from Nairobi visited campus to talk about their lives, their careers and their experiences as women in Kenya. It was one of the first times Daraja has had Kenyan women volunteer their time and experience to the girls.
Berewa with Ann W.
It was special for the girls to hear from successful women who come from backgrounds similar to theirs. Berewa, Njeri, Carol and Dorcas told stories about the challenges they faced in their educations – paying for high school, getting scholarships in fields that didn’t necessarily excite them, and using adult education to move ahead in their careers.
A few of the ladies had studied abroad – one entered Switzerland as an au pair to get a visa, then enrolled in school instead. Many of the girls had questions about pursuing university studies in another country.
They talked a lot about how the directions of their lives have changed, sometimes according to plan, other times not. Njeri went from being a secretary to a journalist. After a few years of work for a newspaper, her interests changed to law and she returned to school to become a lawyer. Now she does work for the United Nations in human rights law.
Joyce, a Form 2 student who dreams of becoming a magistrate, was so encouraged listening to these ladies speak. “It was great to know that they had overcome some of the same challenges that I face,” she said.
Irene N. explaining her tree, and the candle that shines in it
As an exercise, the girls drew trees that represent their lives – the base and roots being family, or those people who positively influenced their childhoods; the trunk being education, starting in nursery school and moving up to Daraja; and the branches representing career and family. “Some branches start to grow and then stop, and that’s okay,” Carol said. “Sometimes we have to let our lives change direction.”
They taught the girls that just like a tree, our lives have seasons – a time to plant, a time to grow, a time to flower and a time to bear fruit – and that we should make the most of whatever season we’re in, not move on to the next too soon.
The girls spoke about these visitors non-stop after they left. We would love to seem them return next year and continue bringing inspiration and hope to the Daraja girls.
End of term
– Once again, the girls loaded up several minibuses, hugged each other goodbye and set off for the journey home for the holidays. They completed their finals on Tuesday and spent the rest of the week getting themselves organized for their vacation, playing sports and doing special WISH (Women of Integrity, Strength and Hope) classes with volunteer Olivia Capra.
The girls enjoyed their last night together of 2011 with their teachers
The first group of girls left campus in the pouring rain at 6 a.m. Their teachers woke up early to see them off. They huddled under umbrellas to stay dry; the women had their hair wrapped up in a turban or shower cap.
“At other schools the teachers can’t see the students leave soon enough,” Teacher Carol said after the first bus pulled away. “Here we want to say goodbye to the girls and wish them the best as they go.”
Girls’ on-campus fundraiser for Daraja’s neighbors – The Grassroots Girls and Drama clubs worked together on an end-of-term project to raise money for Daraja’s neighboring community. They put together an incredible performance of music and dance – with inspirational from many of Kenya’s tribes and traditions – and sold tickets on campus to raise money for a women’s group in nearby Maramoja. The girls have already helped the women’s group build a chicken house – it will be exciting to see what more the girls will be able to do next year as they put more of their awesome ideas into action!
Lillian leading a section of a traditional dance performance
The Daraja girls didn’t want to sit back and watch the results of the Girl Effect Challenge come in. They wanted to take part in the campaign and know that they were doing everything they could to help their school.
Everlyne and Tina checking out the Girl Effect board
The girls followed the results every day and could rattle off the top organizations and how many donations they had in relation to Daraja from memory. They had found all the other organizations’ countries on a map and asked loads of questions about what each project was doing for girls in those countries – but they were most interested in the other groups working in Kenya.
They made posters after watching a few of the Girl Effect’s videos – some drew girls escaping from poverty and early marriage to become educated, healthy women; others wrote about their goals and what they plan to do with their education. They worked on skits, songs, poems, videos and presentations to the volunteers on campus explaining what Daraja means to them and why a vonate to Daraja was so important.
When the competition ended, at 8 a.m. in Kenya, the girls were just starting an end-term exam. The last they heard before going to their final was that we were in fourth place, and they were very concerned. They learned that the Daraja family had gotten them back up to second just before their tea break – campus erupted in squeals and laughter as girls raced around sharing the news and throwing their arms around each other, teachers and volunteers. It was an awesome moment – one that the Daraja girls have worked hard for and truly deserve.
With the Girl Effect competition ending tomorrow, the girls on campus know all about The Girl Effect Challenge and seeing the Girl Effect videos has left an impact. After watching the Girl Effect video, The Clock is Ticking, some of the Daraja staff and students felt like sharing their thoughts on the film. Here’s what they had to say:
Based on what I’ve seen in my community, I think it [the video] is the plain truth about what happens to 12-year-old girls from poor backgrounds. I believe our parents influence us in our lives. For instance, some parents may force you to be married just to get money for them to survive, making you lose your education. This will lead to a miserable life and may continue from generation to generation. But all in all, your life is in your hands, you can do anything.
Take me as an example, my mum was married when she was 14 years old, but that doesn’t mean that I will also get married early. So I choose to live and get educated, devoted and ambitious. I want to be married whenever I want.
A word of encouragement to girls all over the world – We should rise up and live in our own style in order to change the world.
When I saw this video I saw myself at that time when one selfish man wanted to snatch me of my childhood and bright future. Luckily, I was saved.
Other girls, however, continue to suffer under the hands of these people and it’s only you and I who can help them enjoy childhood and have a life.
Friends, let’s do this and the world will be a better place to live!
I felt so empowered by the fact that with education, a girl child can lead a comfortable life. She can choose to have kids and not struggle taking care of them since she has enough to care for them. However, without education, if the girl conceives before she is ready she is bound to suffer for the rest of her life.
Here’s the video- watch it and tell us what you think! As a Daraja supporter, you are part of the Girl Effect too.
Have you vonated? Competition ends tomorrow! Now’s the time to get your vonate in!
It’s the last week before final exams begin! The girls are deep in review classes and study hall, but still saving some time for a few extracurriculars!
Sarah Montgomery with Lillian
New pen pals in Tanzania – Volunteer Sarah Montgomery, who’s studying at the Arcadia Center for East African Studies, arranged for the girls to write letters to high school girls in Arusha, Tanzania. The students are part of AfricAid’s Kisa Project. Sarah says the goal of the project is to help the Daraja girls see that they’re “not the only ones facing the situations they’re facing.”
Welcome back! – After visiting Daraja when it was still a baby school in 2009, volunteer Olivia Capra has returned to campus for two months to work with the girls and teachers in WISH class – Women of Integrity, Strength and Hope. She’ll be working with the girls in their regular classes and in small group sessions.
WISH – The Form 1 girls are well on their way to becoming strong and positive young women. This week they spoke more about confidence – which situations they feel confident in, and which situations they don’t. They talked about being well prepared for presentations and school assignments as a way to boost confidence. And when it comes to problems in relationships, they said writing out their feelings in journals or writing a letter to someone will help them feel better about the situation if they aren’t comfortable talking.
Marylene, Lilian, Mary P. and Hadija spoke to the Form 3 girls about their experience at a women’s leadership conference in town last week. They discussed some of the challenges female leaders face – cultural beliefs regarding gender roles, lack of resources, domestic issues and lack of documents – then shared success stories from the women. Most importantly, they talked about what these leaders expect from young leaders – education, hard work and a will to fight for girls in leadership.
The second-year girls talked about career planning – how they will transition from their primary career goals to back-up plans if they need to.
Syombua and Rosalia having a laugh after making a little mistake during assembly on Monday