What it's like to have an impossible job on Daraja's student selection team.
Girls preparing for their admission interview with Victoria, Daraja’s Head of School.
The best and worst part of the year.
For months, the applications have come in by mail and by motorcycle. Hopefuls write messages like, “Please God help my little sister.” And the selection committee is tasked with finding 32 new Daraja girls from over 300 applicants—all girls who need help.
Every girl deserves an education, but not every girl can fit in Daraja’s classrooms. It’s the selection committee’s job to find those girls who will become leaders. Those who will use their education to make their communities better for the girl who didn’t get the same chance.
Nimo, a current Daraja student, during her admission interview.
What would you do?
The selection committee travels throughout the country to meet potential candidates for an interview—and it starts with a handshake. Daraja girls are nervous but courageous. They are brave enough to shake the hands of adults and look them in the eye.
At some point in each interview, every girl is asked what she will do if she’s not selected. The answers are hard to hear. Girls in tears speak of having no hope and of being married off. It’s heartbreaking even to veteran interviewers. No girl should face such circumstances. No girl should feel she is worth less than a few goats. But then we meet a girl who says, “I will never give up. I will find a way to go to school.” When you look in that girl’s eyes, you know she is a leader. She will become the kind of woman who will make a way when there is no way. That is a Daraja girl.
Mary and her sister receiving her scholarship.
The first new student of 2020!
Mary just finished 8th grade for the second time, and it wasn’t because she didn’t pass. Mary chose to repeat 8th grade so her education wouldn’t end. The extra year bought her time to find a scholarship or (somehow) earn the money. Before being accepted to Daraja, she was preparing to repeat a third time.
Mary’s sister (her guardian) was with Mary when the selection committee offered the scholarship. Her sister put her hand to her heart and, with tears, simply said, “thank you.” Imagine being this woman, seeing your sister get the gift you wanted to give but couldn’t. Mary’s education will be just the beginning. She will break the cycle of poverty that has existed in her family for generations.
We can’t wait to welcome Mary and her 31 sisters to Daraja NEXT WEEK on Valentine’s day.