Thursday, September 9th, 2010
The results of the 2009 census have been released and Kenya’s rapid population growth has captured headlines. According to a recent article in Kenya’s Daily Nation, there are 124 births per hour in Kenya. The country’s population has increased by 10 million in only a decade. The growth has sparked public agreement that family planning and education are key to handling this reality.
“…there is a need to invest in education to meet the demands for future manpower.”- Wycliffe Oparanya, minister of Planning
The census results below provide a glimpse into the current education situation in Kenya.
- Kenya’s Current Population: 38.6 million
- 7.8 million illiterate youth & adults (2/3rds female)
- 1.8 million in school but cannot read or write, indicating a lack of effectiveness of existing educational institutions
BREAKDOWN OF STUDENT POPULATION:
**Note the drastic difference in the number of students attending primary school versus secondary school.
To see more census results, click here.
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
As the summer ends, Daraja says goodbye to the 30+ volunteers that took the time to visit Kenya and share their skills and knowledge with the Daraja girls. Most importantly, lifelong friendships have been made and volunteers left learning something, something that you can’t learn in a textbook. Below is a letter from volunteer Homan to Benny, a Form 2 student that he got to know especially well during his stay on campus. (The picture above was taken of Homan, Benny and Benny’s family during Parents Day in June). Homan agreed to share his goodbye letter to Benny on the blog…
My adventure here started 2 months ago. I had just finished my 3rd year of university and was extremely exhausted! When I came to Daraja I didn’t know how I would be accepted by the wanafunzi (students) and was excited and nervous to see how life at Daraja would work out for me. Those very first days at Daraja, my nervousness was relieved when you where so brave and sweet and came to me to give me tour of Daraja. You were one of my first of many rafikis (friends) at Daraja. I truly appreciate how warm, inviting, and kind you were to me. That same night you showed me some Kenyan dancing in the Dining Hall with all the girls and Teacher Catherine. It was so fun and you really took the time to teach me!
That was just the beginning Benny and I knew I had a friend forever. Then over the next few weeks I came to find how confident, wise, focused, brave and true to yourself you are. Benny, these are all traits that a great leader has and I believe you are a great leader. I remember at the football tournament when we were sitting in the grass after your first match. You told me, “Homan if in the next game I see a chance, I will make a goal. I will just shoot it and make a goal.” Sure enough, you scored a goal in the next two matches. Wow! You know the secret. The secret that if you want something bad enough, focus on it very hard, and work for it you will get it.
A few days later at dinner you asked me to tutor you in math. I talked to Mr. Charles to see if I could start tutoring and he said that would be very okay and that he would put me with a student. I told him that you had already asked me at dinner. Mr. Charles smiled and said, “Very brave girl”. After I started tutoring you, the other girls began to ask me to tutor them. You were the first brave one to ask though. You were a leader and knew that I could help you and then the other students saw that and started using me as well.
Then the talent show came! We all started working on the “Waka Waka” dance. You all were so amazing! I couldn’t believe how fast you all came up with a dance routine. I remember when you all were practicing I could count on you to be responsible with my laptop, which was playing the music. But more importantly I remember when you wanted to have the lead voice in one part of the dance, but another student who was younger than you wanted it as well. Well you let her have it so fast and I saw how mature you were Benny. I was so proud of you. Then you all performed at the talent show without any fear and won!
Benny, you are a true inspiration to me. Your happiness, focus, confidence, and bravery will make you achieve all your goals through hard work. When you shared your story with me and I read about your life I knew that you were very wise. Wise to know that there is no point in being sad. That you had a voice, a strong and powerful voice that could never be silenced. Wow! You have taught me so much and I am so grateful for that. I know I will see you in the future succeeding in whatever you set your mind to.
A few days prior to his departure, Homan planned to visit Benny in Kibera during the school break. Unfortunately, the cell phone of Benny’s mother was stolen and therefore Homan was not able to get a hold of Benny. The day of his departure, Homan decided to kill some time before his flight. He spontaneously chose to check out the National Archives museum in Nairobi. A few minutes into his visit, he sees Benny! She had persuaded her mom to take her to the museum before they went to the market. “I wanted to go to the museum to learn more about Kenya. Also, something inside of me said “Go to the museum!,” said Benny. Needless to say, they were both ecstatic to see each other and they spent a great last day at the museum.
Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
School is back in session! The 52 students of Daraja arrived safe and sound Saturday afternoon. The girls unpacked, caught up with each other, and began their first day of third term yesterday. Everyone on campus is rejuvenated and ready to complete the final term of the 2010 school year…
Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
It’s that time of the year, family! As schools begin to re-open in the US and abroad, we would love your help in launching Daraja Clubs 2010…
Through Daraja’s short time operating, we’ve learned that passionate students abroad are the best advocates for the passionate students at Daraja. Student advocates around the world helped fund many of our start-up costs. Without them, Daraja simply wouldn’t be here today.
If you are an interested student, teacher, parent or active community member, let’s get your school connected to the Daraja cause. And if you have a friend that is a teacher, student, parent or active community member, then please pass on this message and let’s get them involved! The more people we have spreading the word about the school, the stronger this organization gets. And the stronger Daraja gets, the more girls we can educate.
Our hope is to get youth ranging from elementary school to college levels involved. Students from all ages and all walks of life can make a tremendous impact on Daraja through their work. Not only does it educate kids about another way of living in the world, it shows students at a young age that they have the power to truly make a difference.
If you’ve got that fire in you to do something, then get started! Ways to help…
Start a Daraja Club: Daraja clubs have shined as students from around the world have learned about the struggle for girls education and worked actively to fundraise for this academy. Clubs have raised money by throwing a benefit, selling products or partnering with local businesses. This year, get a Daraja club started at a school (or schools)!
“Dimes for Daraja”: Spare change can make a huge difference and this is a fantastic way for our younger advocates to get involved. After learning about the Daraja girls, kids can begin a coin drive where they get their parents, neighbors and friends involved.
Throw an event: Get together with peers to organize an event to raise awareness or to fundraise for a certain Daraja need. Past events include presenting personal Daraja volunteer experiences or fundraising for a certain need (student’s school fees for a year, water tanks, laptops, teacher’s salary…)
The possibilities are truly endless and we encourage students to think of creative ways to help. If you’ve thought of an exciting way to help, GO FOR IT! And let us know so that we can post it on the blog and encourage others to follow your lead. If you would like more information including a “How to Start a Daraja Club” brochure, fundraising material, or to submit questions/ideas, please e-mail email@example.com.
Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
“The Earth & Me”
Over their break, the Daraja students were invited for an optional two-day seminar called “The Earth & Me” held on August 21st-23rd. The goal of the seminar was to help facilitate conversation and thought concerning the very important and at times tenuous relationship that people share with the land around them.
We held our breath, as this was the first optional seminar Daraja Academy has hosted over break. We weren’t sure if anyone would show up!
The result: half the school arrived and the enthusiasm and dedication of the girls was awe-inspiring. Their questions and answers showed that they were absorbing the lessons and that they were thinking about what they were learning.
The “Earth & Me” schedule included learning the importance of compost, debating new environmental policies proposed in the freshly approved constitution, listening to presentations by researchers from the nearby Mpala Research Center, planting over twenty trees in the nearby community, just to name a few.
The girls arrived as students but they left as conservationists. The relationship between people and the environment became clearer, as did the personal and communal responsibilities humans have to protect the environment. It was a very, very powerful weekend.
To see a full timeline of events with pictures and stories, check out our “Earth & Me” photo gallery…
To get a glimpse of the dialogue that occurred throughout the weekend, read below…
The New Constitution and the Environment: 10% Tree Cover
The purpose of this portion of the program was to investigate the relationship in the new Kenyan constitution between the country, people and environment. Article 69.1 (b) of the new constitution asserts that as a country Kenya will work toward at least 10% tree cover in five years.
Article 69.1 (b)
“…work to achieve and maintain a tree cover of at least ten per cent of the land area in Kenya…”
Students were asked whether this was feasible, and if so, what each student would do “as a parliament leader, community leader and individual” to ensure the success of this ambitious proposal. Below are some of the answers that the girls presented. In true Daraja girl fashion, the students had lots of opinions and ideas…
As a Parliament leader…
- Introduce alternate sources of energy like BioGas
- Plant trees in government-owned, public places.
- National Carbon Footprint: Government should monitor the trees cut due to agriculture and industries in Kenya, they should then buy land and pay people to plant trees on that land to make up for the trees cut.
- Design regulations and penalties on cutting down trees such as:
- If you cut one tree, you must plant at least two trees and take care of those trees.
- If you own land, you must have trees planted on 10% of the land.
- If someone continually cuts trees, then their penalty will be to plant and take care of many trees. That way, the person that once cut trees will eventually build a relationship with the environment through planting and eventually understand the importance of trees.
- Government should reclaim land and start planting:
- The students cited the Mau Forest: The Mau Forest is 675,000 acres and it the largest water catchment in the area. Numerous rivers receive their water from this area. Seeing the destruction and potential water crisis that would arise if the forest continued to be depleted, the Kenyan government launched a multimillion dollar plan to focus on the rehabilitation of the forest.
- Reclaiming the land and rehabilitating the forest also meant that many Kenyans would be evicted from their homes. While the students encourage further reclaiming of land for environmental purposes, they explained that the government should provide a loan for those being evicted so the residents could buy new land.
- Provide seedlings to the people
- Inform & educate communities, explain the importance of trees
As a community leader…
- Educate people of the community
- Talk to the chief to call a meeting and hold seminars
- Talk about the future of the children and how tree planting will benefit them.
- Create a tree nursery with community land and then sell those trees to other communities
- Plant trees that create food for the community
- Create local laws and community accountability
As an individual…
- Plant a tree once per month or at least once per year
- Plant a tree on special occasions (ie birthday)
- Lead an educational seminar
- Plant trees in public areas
Overall, it was a powerful weekend seminar and it was magical to see the girls truly embrace the curriculum, voice their thoughtful ideas and learn practices that would be beneficial to their own communities. Check out the “Earth & Me” gallery for a full recap of the various activities!
Thursday, August 5th, 2010
Out of The Blue Films, Inc. debuted the “Girls of Daraja” short documentary at the Lights. Camera. Help. Nonprofit Film Festival on July 29th in Austin, TX. The result? The film was awarded the Jury Prize and, along with raising awareness, the award grants proceeds from the event to Daraja Academy.
The event is an annual film festival focused on nonprofit and cause-driven films. The short documentary was filmed in February when director/producer Barbara Rick, cinematographer Jim Anderson, and executive producer Deborah Santana came to visit the campus.
The short version of the film has been posted on the blog before, but this extended 14 minute film includes additional animation, music and footage. You can watch the award-winning film here!
We can’t thank Out of The Blue Films, Inc. enough for making all this possible.