Kibera School for Girls Update

Posted on February 15, 2013, by Kennedy Odede, Kibera School for Girls

Things are going wonderfully in Kibera –– we just accepted 40 new students after months of rigorous academic assessments and in-depth analysis of their home situations and need. (The criteria for acceptance to The Kibera School for Girls is outstanding potential and also the highest need. We take the most vulnerable who might also have the biggest impact.)

Students at the Kibera School for Girls play in their new playground 

I myself visited over 70 houses (and these were just the finalists!) and was reminded once again how important our school is in serving Kibera's brightest girls who, without it, would never have any chance. I also really enjoy this time that I get to spend in all corners of Kibera (as we try to take students from every single village, it can take me hours to walk between all of the houses). In this time I get to talk to people about Shining Hope for Communities and their hopes for their daughters, and I am reminded of both the hope and the incredible obstacles of life in the slums. There was one girl whose story I can never forget whose father died, and when her mother remarried her stepfather raped her. Through the work of our gender department, he was put in jail, but the trauma the family sustained is substantial. This little girl, along with her peers, started preschool this week and the joy is palpable. I wish you all could have been here to see the first time they played on our playground. It was really amazing. The new students are also always amazed that they can eat lunch and breakfast at school –– and ask for seconds! Most of them have never been able to do that before. Now they don't speak any English and are a bit confused about what this new school thing is –– but in just a month they will be jabbering away and filled with confidence. I am always awed by the transformation.

One of the girls happily swings from the monkey bars

At the end of December each girl "graduated" up to the next class –– and there was a huge celebration with parents to celebrate. The girls also performed the culmination of their latest social studies topic focused on "communities." The girls mapped what makes a community? Shops/commerce, hospitals, schools, religion, etc –– and did in-depth studies of the different components of the Kibera "community." Each class went to a mosque and a church to understand and respect the rituals of each religion. It was really moving for me to watch –– in a country and a community where there can be religious difference –– this respect and curiosity for different belief systems. When the girls performed the Muslim celebration song they learned, all of the parents (Christian and Muslim) were singing along. There is definitely a culture of respect and tolerance that exists at KSG. They also presented poems and amazing plays about Kibera and its formation and politics. 

Students chase each other around the new playground

Kennedy Odede is the founder of Shining Hope for Communities and the Kibera School for Girls. Connect with Shining Hope on Facebook and Twitter and donate on CrowdRise.