Name: Gloria Diamond
Hometown: Shudy Camps, England
Volunteer period: January 10 – January 25
“The greatest lesson I have learned is that the power of education is limited if it is decided that only certain individuals should possess it. Share it, encourage it, distribute it equally, then watch its power grow.”
Arrival in Nanyuki!
After a LONG flight, I had an incredible journey out of Nairobi, taking me through beautiful and diverse scenery on the road to Nanyuki. This is my first time to Africa and I just couldn’t stop taking pictures!
At 2pm, I arrived at Daraja. Below is the mural on the campus gates, that has greeted every new student, and that greets every teacher, volunteer and staff member as they arrive at Daraja each day:
One of my favourite pieces of artwork (there are many!) around the Daraja campus.
After a delicious lunch of rice and githeri (a traditional Kenyan dish of corn and beans that originated from the Kikuyu tribe) I had some time to settle into my banda. Simple, comfortable, clean accommodation with a double bed, running water, hot showers and big windows… what more could you want?
They let us name our own banda!
I then had a campus tour with Jamila, a Form 2 student. Jamilla fought her way to get here and is setting an incredible example not only to her younger sisters but to her entire community. Jamila told me that she and many girls had faced unimaginable obstacles to attend school, jeopardizing their personal safety, risking the rejection of their families and communities, and constantly striving to prove themselves. As we walked past the Pillars, Jamila explained what they meant to her as a Daraja girl, and a prefect no less!
Then it was 6pm and dinner time! I sat with Jamila’s family tree – groups of Daraja girls from Form 1 – 4 share meals, friendship and mentorship in family units. We had ugali (a starchy dish of maize and millet flour) and cabbage – it was wonderful to just listen to the girls laugh and chat, and swap stories about the school day. The Daraja girls have a precious sisterhood and I was welcomed as an honorary auntie!
The next morning, I experienced a day in the life of a Daraja girl. I definitely felt out of practice with the school routine but managed to take some notes – here is what I picked up from my Form 2 Agriculture class on soil fertility!
My favourite class, however, was WISH.
WISH stands for Women of Integrity, Strength and Hope. The curriculum encompasses life skills, female empowerment and leadership. Teacher Carol is exceptional at what she does – creating a space for the girls to express their voices freely and reflect on how to generate change in their community.
Today’s lesson was about becoming Agents of Change and acquiring the necessary tools, starting with self-belief and confidence.
“I am a changemaker, and the change begins with me.”
Me being a keen student again!
A mural from the WISH classroom
A few things I got up to over the last couple of days:
- Updated the alumni database for the Class of ‘17, analysing and comparing our data with national data for that demographic
- Interviewed some of the girls and typed up their stories for the website
- Took photos and wrote short pieces/blogs for Daraja social media pages and website
- Attended WISH classes, helped at extra-curricular clubs, supported girls’ writing projects
- Wrote up questions and scheduled Form 2 video interviews – I’m really excited about these to be shown at graduation, an opportunity for the girls to see how far they have come!
- Visited Twala Women’s Group, and a local Primary School:
Despite being one of the poorest institutions in Laikipa County, Ol-GirGiri has a strong reputation and the grades to prove it, attracting over 800 students traveling from miles away. The motivation of the teachers in the face of such abject poverty and hardship blew me away.
The pre-school classroom
…AND it’s only Day 4. Tomorrow I’m going to Ol Pejeta conservancy on Safari (another first!) which I can’t wait for. I feel like I am really bonding with the girls – their joy, constant singing and laughing is completely contagious. Once I’m back, I am looking forward to being immersed in all aspects of school life (bean-counting blog, watch this space) and in doing so, begin to understand what it truly means for Daraja girls to be empowered through education.
Gloria Diamond is volunteering at Daraja Academy for three weeks this January. To learn more about our volunteer program, click here.