As Daraja girls learn skills to prepare for the KCSE exams, and prepare them for a university education, they are also empowered to seek change in their communities and in their world. As the second term came to a close, Daraja Academy opened it classrooms to partner with the women of G.R.O.O.T.S (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood). The members of the Peace Club and the GROOTS club on campus gathered to begin a discussion on creating positive change in their local communities. With the three-week fall break just around the corner, students volunteered to stand up and discuss what plans they had to work with their community, based on skills they had learned from GROOTS seminars.
Each girl touched on problems in their communities with a desire to change; they spoke about Anti-FGM campaigns, solutions to early marriages and youth pregnancy, all with the real passion to make change in their communities. The GROOTS women recognized the Daraja students for their passion, but pushed the students to think more in-depth about the exact organizations to target to make real change. The students were asked to think strategically, considering stakeholders in their communities, and ways to address community organizations. As each girl brainstormed different techniques, speaker Fridah empowered the girls saying, “When we do something collectively, we have a bigger voice.”
Though these seminars are casual in nature, the lessons learned are not. The students are given a sounding board to work on practical problem solving by empowered women of GROOTS. One of the women on the panel, Rebecca, is a student at university and has been sponsored by the GROOTS organization in her dream of higher education. When speaking with the girls Rebecca spoke about the ‘bottom up’ strategy for creating change, which starts with local action, and works up to global action. They left the girls with strong inspiration and the notion that, “The idea you have today can change you, your community and you leadership skills.”