AIDS. Leadership. Rape. Confidence. Female genital mutilation. Change. No topic was out of bounds during this weekend’s GROOTS Kenya Leadership Conference.
“Most girls in my community do not perform well academically, and that leads to them feeling discouraged. A girl who feels discouraged does not see any advantage in education, only negativity.”
Teddy stood with her group to report commonalities in village life experiences of Daraja girls and GROOTS guests. “In order to affect change, we must attack the negativity in the minds of young girls and get them to understand the benefits of an education.”
Seven additional groups presented their findings during an exercise designed to identify necessary community changes and how the young, female leaders in GROOTS can create those changes. Education, awareness, and establishing key relationships with community leaders such as parents and village elders were just a few suggestions the girls came up with to create positive change. These general ideas sprouted into specific initiatives, such as village meetings or town halls, awareness campaigns, and mentoring to pass along the knowledge Daraja girls have gained related to FGM, pregnancy prevention and focus in school to the grassroots level.
Motivational speeches, confidence building, and peer mentoring kept the weekend filled with fun activities. “Congratulations on becoming a leader,” Magdalene, volunteer leader of GROOTS Kenya said at the end of the final session. “You are now equipped with the tools necessary to take the knowledge you have gained here at Daraja back to your communities. You are creating the intergenerational improvements necessary to break the cycles of violence, of miseducation, of abuse to women that we have discussed. The change this country needs is in each of you, and it is up to each of you to bring that chance to others.”
Stay tuned for a guest post Wednesday by junior Alice A., as she discusses what the Leadership Conference meant to her!