Africa Update: 11 years later

By Lotte Davis

I get the sense every time I’m in Kenya that we’re moving the needle closer to our objective of empowering girls and mobilizing them to become leaders in their country. But this time, I witnessed an unmistakable surge in momentum.

Where the workshops I taught used to be attended by 150-200 girls, the school principals now insisted we fill a hall with 500-600 students to motivate their students with strategies on how they can achieve their goals and dreams.

The girls in our 10 schools who were unaccustomed to foreigners coming to their school, used to be shy and unresponsive.  This time, they stood up boldly to share their vision for a future they want to attain. One student confidently declared that she would be the first female president in Kenya and would finally bring an end to corruption.

At the end of my workshops, the girls routinely filed out to go back to their classes, but now in every school, they ran up to the stage and peppered me with questions to learn more about how they could achieve their goals.

Everywhere we went, we were greeted by welcome songs, the entire school often let out of classes to hear how One Girl Can, can make a tangible difference in their lives.

The schools tell us that the grade average has been going up steadily year after year, and the evidence of this is that we had 18 girls with A’s apply for university scholarships for the first time ever. We’ll finally have several doctors, dentists and lawyers in our program, to add to the aeronautical and civil engineers we have already.

And finally, the little primary school with 80 students that we built in 2008 in the Kibera slums was demolished in November to make way for a 3-story primary and secondary girls’ school for the now 615 students who attend here. The school will be finished in July and we are still looking for funds to help complete it.