Daraja Blog

 

Mobile Technology Development Program Expands at Daraja

They came bearing gifts

chrisgarciamobiletech23 years ago, Chris Garcia took his first steps on Kenyan soil with a group of teachers and students from University of San Diego with a huge surprise for Daraja’s teachers and Form 1 class—iPods for every teacher and iPads for every freshman girl.

Next week, Chris is returning to Kenya for the next round of development with the now 3-year-old Kenya Mobile Technology project. “The type of professional development was limited to show teachers and students how to use the iPads and iPod touches in the most basic form without wifi,” said Chris in his appeal to friends, family and professional connections to help financially support his return to Daraja.

Until only recently, campus electricity only ran from 7p-10p from a cranky, 20 year old diesel generator. This meant no charging laptops, phones, cameras, and the USD donated iPods and iPads meant to encourage and critically engage Daraja students in their classroom learning. “Now, the campus has wifi,” said Chris, “and the iPads and iPods need to have their operating systems updated, along with installing apps to enhance the education for Daraja Academy students.”

There’s an app for that: Introducing new applications to enhance classroom learning

Chris, a teacher at Chula Vista Elementary School District in Southern California, coordinated with fellow teachers and participants of the 2012 Mobile Technology Project by distributing an assessment soliciting advice. The assessment addressed how teachers based in the U.S. use technology to enhance classroom instruction, improve grading procedures, lesson planning, and acquiring materials to build a better digital platform for presenting high-quality photographs and images.

Chris used GoFundMe to raise enough funds to cover the return trip to Kenya. Engaging nearly 60 people, he raised an impressive $3,000 for the Project. “This was my first experience using GoFundMe, and it was a very simple set up through their website, and very easy to promote through social media and emailing the link to my contact list.”

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Have you always wanted to visit Daraja? Do you have a project you’d like to see implemented on campus? Email Ashley at info@daraja-academy.org to learn about our Guest Program, Internships, and easy tips and tricks for raising money to visit the school transforming leaders of today into world changers of tomorrow.

Every Drop Counts: Transition Students Host Anti-Pollution Campaign

Daraja Transition Students Win 53,000 Kenya Shillings for Anti-Pollution Campaign

IMG_0199In conjunction with Laikipia Wildlife Forum in Nanyuki, Daraja Academy Transition students created an anti-pollution river campaign grant proposal. Students assessed community needs and compiled research about where river pollution and water shortage was a major problem in communities surrounding Daraja’s campus.

In the transition schedule is a unit about community projects and proposal writing. Sammy of Laikipia Wildlife Forum facilitated this unit. The proposal was written to Laikipia Wildlife Forum as a recognized major stakeholder in the county’s environment and conservation. Said Carol Wanjiku, Transition Program Manager, “The proposal was accepted, passed, and we received a grant of 53,000 Kenya shilling for the campaign.”

Event Day!

OCTThe Anti-River Pollution campaign event took place June 27, 2015, attended by students from Naibor Primary and Secondary schools, Ol-Girgiri Primary school, Simama Project and local community members.

Daraja Transition students used performances and speeches to introduce “Every drop counts”, a phrase meant to encourage conservation and raise awareness to local residents about the dangers of pollution. Presentations covered a range of topics covering biodiversity loss associated with un-sustainable use of river Nanyuki.

Daraja Academy campus residents utilize river Nanyuki water for domestic use and for irrigating our small organic garden, supplementing food to our school.

Said Carol about the success of the grant proposal and campaign event, “It’s a great achievement and we are happy for this empowerment.”

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In order to continue the momentum of learning and growth, Daraja Academy created a fifth-year Transition Program immediately following completion of secondary school to help our students navigate the vulnerable required gap year imposed by the Kenyan government. For more information about the program, please email info@daraja-academy.org.

 

Thank You Woodside Priory!

For the last three weeks, Form 4 & Student Body President, Alice Naini, and Form 2, Abdia Osman, have been studying at Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley. The relationship between Daraja and Priory began back in 2008, when Priory held the very first Daraja fundraiser.

We would like to share with you a press release (below) from Priory and express our sincerest gratitude to Priory for inviting Alice and Abdia to the US and facilitating an experience of a lifetime.

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Photo by Sean Mclain Brown & Jim Kirkland

For Immediate Release 3/28/2015:

Kenyan Students from Daraja Academy Visit Woodside Priory School

Abdia, Class of 2015, and Alice, Class of 2017, seem like any other high school students; they like music, ice-cream, and dancing, but they are also from Kenya where electricity is unreliable, access to clean water is rare, political turmoil is rampant, and girls access to a quality education is severely limited.

“Everyone has been so friendly and helpful, we’ve made new friends that we hope to carry with us the rest of our lives,” said Abdia. Alice nodded in agreement and added, “At Daraja, we have four pillars that guide us, one of them is to embrace differences, this is true at the Priory as well, we felt so welcomed and embraced.” said Alice.

Abdia and Alice’s visit was the first of a partnership with the Daraja Academy (which means ‘Bridge’ in Swahili). Woodside Priory School began its relationship with Daraja in 2007, since then, students and faculty have fundraised for the school and led faculty and staff summer volunteer trips to Daraja Academy.

Priory science faculty and former Daraja Board member, Bob Bessin said, “The purpose of the visit is for cultural learning and exchange,” he continued, “This is an opportunity to expose Woodside Priory School students to similar aged student’s perspectives and insights from Kenya.” Mr. Bessin also said that the Daraja Academy “serves to educate and empower women who have no other means of support,” and that they also help “break the cycle of males getting preference to be educated.” 

Abdia and Alice’s visit wasn’t just to mingle, they were also panelists on a Cultural Forum Series at the Priory. At the forum, Abdia and Alice discussed stereotypes, cultural differences, and how people can open their hearts and minds to break down destructive barriers. As an example, Alice cited the fact that many of the Daraja girls come from different tribes that sometimes are hostile toward each other. Alice said, “At Daraja, we learn to listen and respect each other’s differences, and to leave every day better than we found it.” 

After traveling in Africa extensively as a child, and teaching in Tanzania for a year after graduating college, Daraja founder Jason Doherty realized his life’s purpose was in Africa. Wanting to do something about the lack of access to secondary school for East African girls, Bay Area natives Jason and his wife, Jenni (both educators) decided to move to Africa to start a school.

Daraja Academy provides a quality secondary education to exceptional Kenyan girls because we believe that educated girls can transcend poverty and change the world. For more information on the Daraja Academy, please visit http://daraja-academy.org/

Woodside Priory School is an independent, Catholic, college preparatory school in the Benedictine tradition. Our mission is to assist students of promise in becoming lifelong learners who will productively serve a world in need of their gifts.

KCSE Results – Class of 2014 Sets New Daraja Records!

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Look out World, there is a powerful storm brewing and its epicenter is at Daraja Academy. The results from the 2014 Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) national exam are out and they cannot be ignored! Girls’ lives are changing as they grow to be powerful, intelligent leaders and girls’ education is changing right along with them.

IMG_9078As a whole, this last class of test takers set a new standard of excellence at the school. In Kenya, graduates who receive a score of around 60 or higher, a grade of B, are assisted to university by the Kenyan government, student with a C- or higher are given loans to attend 3 year college courses.

EVERY SINGLE STUDENT FROM THE CLASS OF 2014 RECEIVED A C- OR HIGHER, ALL WILL BE GOING TO UNIVERSITY OR COLLEGE!

This is a first at Daraja and a total game changer for girls who 4 years ago could not have gone to secondary school. If the Ministry of Education uses the same benchmark it did last year, 12 girls from this class will be attending universities across Kenya soon.

IMG_9422These are no longer just smart, lovable high school students; they are the nurses, teachers, paramedics and business owners of our future. They will follow their truths into the world of professional adults with a tool kit full of lessons learned during four years of WISH class and the Daraja Transition program. They have learned that they are not defined by the views of others, but by their own hard earned beliefs and ideals. Girls CAN BE good at math and science… kindness is not a weakness… each day you leave it better than you found it.

Please watch the short video below and remember two things. First, the genuine, frenzied reaction to the KCSE results is not that of the relieved recipients, but their proud “younger sisters.” Secondly, notice the different tribes and religions equally excited for their “older sisters” – those are young leaders who refuse to recognize the traditional divides of their predecessors… those are future change makers united by love and hope, those are the amazing girls of Daraja!

Thank you for equally believing in the dream,

Jason Doherty

Founder of Daraja Academy

 

Making Peace

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Sometimes things fall into our laps. They become ours without much work, effort or forethought. However, sometimes we see something that we desperately want and it takes a lot of energy and discussion before we can even dare to dream of that thing becoming ours.

For Daraja’s Form 4 students Rose R., Lilian T., Mary S. and Asuza… the thing that they wanted more than almost anything else was peace. Peace in their communities, peace in their homes and peace inside of themselves. The creation of Daraja Academy’s Peace Club was the first step in that process.

“For me, peace is everything,” Zulfa said.

Like Form 1 Zulfa, many of the club’s 18 members come from the Kenyan north, an area often riddled with tribal conflict. It is impossible to envision a peaceful tomorrow without a strong dose of hope. As the girls discuss their club, it is clear that its roots are planted firmly in the lessons learned during the school’s W.I.S.H. class, Women of Integrity, Strength and Hope.

“Peace is important at Daraja. Where I come from the Somali, Samburu and Turkana are fighting. But, when you come to Daraja we have Somalis, Samburu, and Turkana and we are all friends with each other,” explained Scholastica during a Peace Club meeting under one of Daraja’s old shade trees.

In a beautiful stroke of Daraja irony, founding member Rose began thinking seriously about a Daraja peace club while traveling home during one of the month-long term breaks – a trip that takes three days portal to portal.

After completing the first leg of her journey, Rose, a member of the Gabra tribe, called home to let her mother know that she would be staying the night in Marsabit with her classmate Shamsia’s family, who come from the Borana tribe.

Her mother was terrified that her daughter would be harmed by the host family. Always quick on her feet, Rose calmly asked, “Mom, would you harm a house guest just because they were from another tribe?”

Without a moments pause, Rose’s mother answered, “Of course I wouldn’t hurt a guest in our home.” To which Rose responded, “Good, they will not hurt me either. And Mom, one of my classmates will be staying with us for the night as she travels further North… and she is a Rendille.”

Regardless of whether they hail from the Somali, Samburu, Turkana, Gabra, Borana, Rendille or another of the tribes represented in Daraja Academy’s culturally rich student body, while on campus they are all young women growing in a unifying dream. The students of Daraja dream of a better, more peaceful tomorrow, free of hostility and fear.

Under the Tree

Under a tree, on top of a hill that over looks the Daraja Academy campus, a few members of the school’s administrative team met with a group of elders from the local community… 70 elders from the local community!

The meeting began with a traditional Maasai prayer as the clouds burned away from Mt. Kenya to the southeast. In customary call and response style, the local holy man chanted a sentence or two in rumbling, deep KiMaasai, to which the entire group answered, “Ngai” (God).

Mzee[1]As far as “community meetings” go, this one broke the mold. Absent were griping neighbors and unresolved issues, this gathering had one agenda married to a common goal: assisting Daraja Academy’s mission to educate Kenya’s young women. Some of the group had daughters or granddaughters who attend Daraja, many were interested in learning how their girls could join the school. But everyone wanted to see the school succeed.

People spoke about the differences they had seen in the village girls who attend the school. A stooped, white haired gentleman stood and addressed the group insisting that “Daraja should be left out of peoples mouths” when it came to political disagreements, specifically those concerning land rights. “Daraja is not with a Kenyan political party, it is with Kenya.”

While I’m in the US the most common question that people ask about Daraja is if we receive push back from the local community because we are educating girls. Currently, the only issue that the local community has with Daraja Academy is that we are too small and cannot educate enough girls!

There are 70+ Maasai and Turkana elders who understand the value of educating girls, who are willing to gather, discuss and plan ways to educate more – now, it is time for the rest of the world to follow their lead.

KCSE Results Are Cause for Celebration at Daraja!

As February rolls into March, tensions begin building in secondary schools across Kenya. Each morning principals, teachers and especially student restlessly check the news in anticipation of the K.C.S.E test results: the exam that defines each student’s high school performance and determines their ability to attend university.

Daraja Academy’s level of eagerness has been just as high and finally the results are in for the students who sat for the 2013 national examination. Though it is still early in the process and the Ministry of Education has not released what the grade cut-off will be for students to receive government assistance to attend university, right now things look good.

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What do we know?

We know that 20 of the 26 Daraja Academy exam sitters received a score which qualifies them to attend a four-year university.

We also know that at least 7 girls received scores high enough to earn them admission to four-year university on guranteed full government scholarship and another 4 may qualify for scholarship depending on where the cut-off falls this year.

These results are staggering when one considers that these young women did not have the means to attend secondary school four short years ago.

We also know that the girls who did not receive scores that will immediately allow them access university loans are neither gone nor are they forgotten. In fact, as I type this blog they are back on the Daraja Academy campus taking part in the school’s Transition Program.

The Transition Program provides graduates with the tools to be a successful in their next phases of life, whether that be in college, careers our as leaders of their communities. They are learning life skills, gaining practical experience during two-month internships and significant for many of the graduates, how to locate scholarships, loans, and other ways to further their educations.

No matter what tomorrow holds, these ladies are bright, hungry and capable of changing the world around them!

Jason Doherty

Founder of Daraja Academy

Reflections on Student Selection

Daraja administrators have just completed Student Selection for our new Form 1 (first year) class.  Here Daraja founder, Jenni Doherty, gives a view into what Student Selection trips are like:

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We have 2 more days to go on Student Selection and we are spending the night in Makindu (a small truck stop town on the Mombasa Highway). There are no hotels worth mentioning, but the Sikh temple has dormitories so we are staying there.

We’ve had incredible interviews that showcase a Daraja Girl to perfection. And then…there are interviews that change your life. There is a familiar pattern we get into when we do an interview. You sit in a circle around a table; we each have our pen at the ready to record poignant comments. Charles, our Head of School begins by introducing the Daraja Admin. He has the kindest and most smiley face. He tells the girls that we are writing down the things they say because we want to remember them, and not to worry. We are only writing good things. Then, he kindly asks the girl to introduce herself to us.

Many girls start with their names, age, parents names or names of their primary school. Some stand to attention while doing it, others are prompted to speak louder so that we can hear them. The first part of the interview is to ascertain their financial need, often asking questions about older siblings who had gone to school, occupation of the parents, and learning about some of their challenges regarding education. The second part of the interview is to see if they are a Daraja girl. We ask 4 basic questions.  In the past 3 weeks, we’ve talked a lot about how we would have answered them at their age and what we might answer now.

I could go on and on about our process, how we “grade” them, what we look for. But suffice it to say, we know a Daraja Girl when we meet her.

And we met a Daraja Girl today.

We have a policy that we don’t tell girls if they have been accepted to Daraja until we have finished the 3 weeks of interviews. We have broken our rule 4 times this year. And today marks number 5.

Her name is Mbinya (Bean-Yah). She comes from Makindu. Her mother and father passed away from AIDS in 2011, leaving her and 4 younger siblings orphans. They are sent to live with an Uncle, whose wife dies in the first year leaving behind a 1.5 year old child. The uncle finds work 25 miles away as a watchman who makes about $50/month. He no longer lives in the home. Mbinya is the Mom in the household. She is 16 and takes care of her 5 younger “siblings”.

I wasn’t sure about her upon first meeting her. She didn’t volunteer to go first in the interviews; she was actually the last. But she did look me in the eye when we shook hands. And when she went to introduce herself she spoke loudly and clearly, more so than any other girl in the past 3 weeks. After her introduction, we were all speechless. I’ve never been so lost for words. This girl was the Mom, the caretaker of her whole family. AND she got a 325 on her KCPE. That is SO high for the circumstances. When we went to do our 4 questions, she shut down. She wouldn’t answer at all. We stopped and asked Sara and Diane to leave the room. We breathed in deeply together, twice. We reiterated our instructions. And then she started talking.

Women should be educated because they have mercy and help other people. If she could change her area, she would bring in HIV testing centers, build a mortuary, bring ARVs to the hospitals, and make sure that zero percent die of HIV. She, at first, claimed she wasn’t a leader. When we prompted her about her home life she said, yes, she teaches her family about cleanliness, how to organize, how to live in a clean compound, and teaches the importance of education. We told her that was being a leader.

We asked her what she’d feed the children tonight, and she looked incredibly forlorn. She said, she’d go to her neighbors and ask for 1kg of Maize. For those of you who have been here, Maize is about the size of hominy and I swear you burn more calories chewing it! We asked what she ate for Christmas, and she said her uncle bought wheat flour so they could make chapati.

I wish I could pass to you the feeling from the interview. It is rare that at the end of one, we weep. And both Victoria, Daraja’s Principal, and I wept, we could barely pull ourselves together. We all hugged each other at the end of the interview just for comfort because we know what a scholarship like ours will mean to this amazing girl. We asked if she could take us home. One the way, we stopped for some basics–oil, beans, ugali flour, and wheat flour. She told us shyly that she cuts her neighbors’ bushes for firewood for cooking.

And we went to her home. At night the primary school’s watchman stops by to make sure they are okay. The community health worker stops in a few times per month. Words can’t describe the condition of the home they are “squatting” in.

But the best moment was when we were standing around, and Victoria said, “Mbinya, because you have been so amazing to your family, we want to give you a present. We want to give you a 4-year scholarship to Secondary school.”  The Community health worker bursts into tears, the social worker bursts into tears,  and Mbinya? She breaks into a smile that splits her face, just as her 2 youngest siblings run up to the house from school. It was one of the most poignant moments of my life.

The community has pledged to take on the family while we take Mbinya to school. It feels like a happy ending. And in a way, it is. But really, it is only just the beginning of a long road for Mbinya. I’m just so glad that Daraja gets to be her bridge to a better future. Mbinya is the reason we started Daraja. And she is the reason we don’t tell the first 26 girls we meet that they have been accepted to the school. But today, we broke that rule, again. And tonight as I snuggle into bed, I rest a little bit easier because I’ve helped change the life of a girl.

Looking Back: 2013 was a Fantastic Year at Daraja Academy!

With 2013 coming to a close, we’d like to take a walk down memory lane and look back on such a momentous year for Daraja Academy.

January started off with a new school year – the 5th for Daraja. Second, third, and fourth-year students returned to campus excited for the upcoming year, eager to learn. Also this month, “School of my Dreams,” a new documentary about Daraja was released by Out of the Blue Films and executive director Deborah Santana. Be sure to check out the trailer here!

In February, the K.C.S.E exam scores were released for the Class of 2012. For the first Daraja class to ever take the exams, we were blown away by their success. Daraja’s top scorer, Betty who scored an average of an A-, also had the top score in our district, which earned her a job at Equity Bank and a scholarship to the University of Nairobi. Daraja ranked 92nd out of 1,233, an extraordinary achievement for a school taking exams for the first time.

Students celebrate as they receive awards for the 2012 K.C.S.E. Exam

Students celebrate as they receive awards for the 2012 K.C.S.E. Exam

March welcomed Daraja’s newest group of students: the Class of 2016. 26 bright and determined young women have continued to impress their fellow students and teachers with their enthusiasm to further their education. They quickly became part of the Daraja family by joining clubs, sports teams, and even being elected prefects – a high honor for a first-year student.

Class of 2016

Class of 2016

April brought a brand-new program to campus: The Transition Program. Daraja students who finished their fourth year at Daraja in 2012 returned to campus to join Teacher Carol and participate in the first ever transition program. The first few months consisted of community service and learning skills such as personal finance and resume writing before the girls left for their internships all over the Laikipia region in schools, game parks, hospitals, hotels, and even on Daraja’s campus.

In May, Daraja students ran with thousands of other supporters around the globe for the annual Bay to Breakers fundraiser. Our tied-for-first place winners on campus were first year Salome, third year Joyce, and fourth year Lisayo. We had over 150 runners from California to Australia running to support our students.

2012 Bay to Breakers Champion Lineth Chepkriui and Zeki

2012 Bay to Breakers Champion Lineth Chepkriui and 4th-year Zeki

Throughout the year, Daraja students competed in different tournaments- be it sports, music, and more! Between a three-day sports competition in Nanyuki, the annual Music Festival, and a local science congress event, the girls were busy applying their skills outside of campus! The soccer (football) team won the Provincial tournament and moved onto the Regional tournament. Seven Daraja students ranked in the top ten positions at the Regional Music Competition.

Members of Daraja's Soccer (Football) Team

Members of Daraja’s Soccer (Football) Team

During Term 2, Daraja hosted its very first community event in Kenya in nearby Nanyuki. The purpose was to network with local organizations, representatives, and community members to spread the word and mission of Daraja! Guests enjoyed snacks, meeting Daraja students, Daraja’s two films, and a Q&A with co-founders, Jason and Jenni.

4th-year Gitwa speaks with Community Day visitors

4th-year Gitwa speaks with Community Day visitors

In June and July, Daraja was lucky to host numerous special guests. Kenyan peacemaker, Alice Nderitu, came to campus for a seminar. She was an inspiration to the Daraja students, many of whom dream of following in Alice’s footsteps, nationally and in their home communities. We also welcomed visitors from California high school, Woodside Priory, who volunteered around campus and played an important role in the cross-cultural experience Daraja strives to provide for our students. Visitors from Mpala Research Center, just outside campus, as well as students from James Madison University and University of San Diego shared their experiences and talents with our students.

Peacemaker Alice Nduriru speaking to Daraja students

Peacemaker Alice Nderitu speaking to Daraja students

In August, the world welcomed the very first graduates from Daraja Academy. After completing secondary school, winning many awards for their K.C.S.E. performance in our district, and finishing the Transition Program, 25 of the world’s best and brightest crossed the stage on Daraja’s campus and threw their caps into the air to signify their completion of the Daraja Academy program. It was a momentous event not only for our students, but our entire campus community. The Class of 2012 has already exceeded our expectations and are changing the world with more than eight graduates in university, a few teaching, and many more volunteering or working in their home communities.

Daraja's Inaugural Class of 2012!

Daraja’s Inaugural Class of 2012!

Daraja Academy was sure to celebrate big in October for the second ever International Day of the Girl. With the theme being “Innovating for Girls Education,” Daraja fit the bill quite well. On campus, student reflected on the power of girls and discussed The Girl Effect’s newest project: The Girl Declaration. Off-campus, Daraja was highlighted by the UN Girls Education Initiative as an innovative and effective organization in breaking the mold of girl’s empowerment and was featured on the Girls Speak Out webcast for the International Day of the Girl Summit.

During Term 3, 15 students traveled two hours North to Kimanjo, where they competed in the Amazing Maasai Ultra Marathon and volunteered at the event. Second-year Rebecca raced especially well, placing in the top three female finishers for the 21K distance!

2nd-year Winrose finishing the Amazing Maasai Ultramarathon

2nd-year Winrose finishing the Amazing Maasai Ultramarathon

In October, Daraja hosted a Kenyan Red Cross blood drive after the Westgate attacks in Nairobi. It was a tremendous success with students, teachers, staff, and volunteers donating blood as well as learning about the donation process. Daraja donated over 50 units of blood in just one afternoon.

1st-year Alice donating blood.

2nd-year Alice donating blood.

Our next class of graduates began and completed their K.C.S.E. testing during October and November, and have now completed the secondary school curriculum! Results for the exams will come out in the next few months, and they will soon be welcomed back to campus for the Transition Program in March!

The Class of 2013 hours after finishing the K.C.S.E

The Class of 2013 after finishing the K.C.S.E

The new school year will begin the first week of January with campus welcoming the 6th first-year class (Class of 2017!) in February.

We can’t thank you enough for your support through this significant year for Daraja, and we look forward to all that’s to come in 2014! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Happy Holidays from the Daraja Family!

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For much of the world, the November, December, and January months signify a time of celebration, quality time, and meaningful gift giving. In Kenya, holiday celebrations do not differ much from the United States. Right now, Daraja students are on break from classes and are home with their families. They are celebrating holidays, spending time with their loved ones and communities, performing community service, and preparing for the new school year starting in January.

Because Daraja students come from various areas of the country and are members of 30 ethnic groups and 3 religions, their holiday celebrations differ in unique ways.

In Kilifi County on Kenya’s coast, Jesica and her family will sit down to a meal of fish and rice to celebrate Christmas. “I love it so much because our family comes together to share stories from the year. Being with all my relatives brings me so much joy; it is my favorite part of school break. I can’t wait,” Jesica explained before leaving at the end of term three.

Right outside of Daraja’s campus in Nanyuki, Naomi and her family prepare a large meal to celebrate the holidays. They invite many people in their community to join, since Naomi says “no one should be hungry, especially on the holidays.” Her family opts to prepare simple, affordable dishes in order to feed a larger quantity of people. Naomi expressed her excitement for this tradition by saying, “in my community, we are all friends. We take care of each other.”

In the Sultan Hamud region of Kenya, both Winifred and Rose await their favorite holiday of the year- New Years. Winnie and Rose both just completed their first year at Daraja, and they clicked instantly upon discovering that they are from the same area. They intend to visit one another during the school break since their communities are within walking distance. Winnie looked ahead and explained, “Maybe at new years I will visit Rose. At midnight we will go outside and cheer and yell. We can run through the streets and dance and sing.”

Purity, another student who will begin her second year at Daraja in January, will be traveling to various areas in Kenya in order to spend time with her vast network of relatives. She explained, “Since it is the rainy season, traveling prices are high, but my family saves money all year to visit family members. It is really important to us.” She spent time in nearby Nanyuki with her Aunt immediately following the end of the term, until she traveled to Nairobi to be with her Mother and siblings. Together, they are all visiting other relatives around the country this break.

Mary N will be a fourth year student in January, and she is preparing for the new school year at home in the Mombasa region, celebrating with her family. “This break is my favorite because I love sharing jokes and stories with my whole family. We get to spend a lot of time together, and the elders in my family tell lots of stories and give us history of our ancestors,” Mary N explained.

From the Daraja family to your family, Happy Holidays! To support Daraja Academy for the start of the new school year, help stock at student’s backpack or fund their healthcare for the upcoming year. Visit our Crowdrise Holiday Challenge fundraising page for more information