Ever wonder what it’s really like to be at Daraja? Long-time supporter and current board member Steve Disenhof and his friend Pat Garvey spent the first half of February lending their photography expertise to Daraja. Here are a few snapshots of their experience, in Steve’s words, that may change how you picture life at Daraja.
“Almost a year ago, I realized that [Daraja’s] photo library needed updating—many of the photos that we had were either dated or low-quality. It seemed appropriate to join the student selection team [in Kenya] in early February.
STUDENT SELECTION “I found the student selection process fascinating and insightful. Interview questions included how the girls found out about the school, what steps they had taken to try and find their own funding–such as asking their chief for help–and what they wanted to be when they grew up. They were even asked what they would do if they were not offered one of the few scholarships that we are able to provide.
Unfortunately, Daraja can only accept about one of every 10 applicants. Pat and I quickly realized that perhaps the most emotionally difficult part of the selection team’s job was not merely to find the best candidates, but in having to say no to so many otherwise worthy girls. And to know what the dismal prospects were for those who are not afforded admission to Daraja.
REPORTING DAY “There were chills all around as the new students arrived during the day. As each student rode or walked in, the students sang the school’s anthem, then escorted them to an overwhelming greeting of hugs, smiles, and cheers. Many, many hugs!
CAMPUS “The motivation of the students and the commitment of the staff is striking. By the time I finish my laundry at 5:30 a.m., the study halls are full. Before 7:00 a.m., teachers are in their offices holding office hours. I was particularly struck one early morning by the science teacher energetically and with good humor holding the attention of a group of students.
At night, the classrooms are usually full as well. As has always been the case at Daraja, students study until 10 p.m. And again, they are often joined by teachers volunteering to stay late, especially when exams are on the horizon. There is a universal commitment on campus that these girls will have a future to look forward to!
DARAJA “What is abundantly clear is that Daraja Academy changes lives. Not only the lives of its students, but the lives of the students’ families and their communities.
The local and national government have applauded the work of the school. And we’ve witnessed the local communities of our graduates make demonstrable changes in the positive way they now value educating girls in their communities.
At 67, I’ve worked for and/or been a leader of non-profit programs for 51 years. I can honestly say that of all the programs I’ve ever been involved with, Daraja has the single most positive impact on people’s lives. I’m proud to play a small part in this.”
We can’t thank Steve enough for his contributions!
You can read more about Steve’s trip in Kenya here. Or view more of his photography on SmugMug.
If you want to have your own experiences in Kenya and on Daraja’s campus, we invite you to be our guest this year on one of our 3 guest trips. Visit this page for more info.