Rosalia grew up sharing a single-room home with her mother and two sisters. Though her mother worked hard doing any odd job she could find, they were often behind on the rent and had only ugali and cabbage to eat. Rosalia remembers: “I lived without knowing what was next.”
Happily, the little family saved enough to send Rosalia’s older sister to secondary school when the time came. As her sister went off to school, Rosalia wondered if she’d get the chance to continue past the 8th grade as well. But after only a year there wasn’t any money left. With no way to pay the school fees the oldest girl was forced to return home.
Rosalia finished 8th grade with excellent marks, and she prayed for a way to continue her education. She was shy and worried about her English, but she’d heard of Daraja Academy and knew it could be her chance. Bravely, she wrote to the administration asking for a chance to attend their school. She promised to be “polite and obedient” and to work hard. During her entrance interview she showed the determination of a Daraja girl, and she was admitted.
Rosalia loved her time at Daraja, especially her WISH classes. “WISH classes meant taking a U-turn in my life. I changed drastically. I stand out in places where others are afraid of standing out. I am able to stand, talk, and present my ideas without fearing.”
Her KCSE scores were high, and she went on to study science education at university. She even made a name for herself as the captain of the women’s basketball team.
Soon after receiving her diploma she was offered a teaching position at Excel Girls, a private secondary school. Rosalia knew instantly that her students needed more than math and science help. She began extending her office hours far longer than the other teachers in order to better reach out to the students. Using her WISH training, she mentors her students both as their teacher and their friend. Of her work she says, “I believe if I am not there for them, who will be there for them?”
But Rosalia feels she also has something to give to those back home. Whenever school is not in session, Rosalia returns home to tutor her sisters, cousins, and the other girls in her village. Her motto is, “I believe I can change more lives.”
When asked to reflect on her past journey, Rosalia said, “It wasn’t easy. One of the Daraja teachers taught me, “The challenges you face now, use them to make your future bright.” So that is always what I do. When I face a challenge, I use it as an opportunity to make what awaits me next awesome.”