This post is part of a four-part series about traveling to East Africa this fall with She's the First, a nonprofit that sponsors girls' education worldwide. I traveled for six weeks with STF's Co-Founder and Director of International Operations Christen Brandt and documented the girls' lives at school and at home in still photos and video.
We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, by minibus from Arusha, Tanzania. We quickly learned that Nairobi is a city of contrasts; surrounding the city are mansions and gated communities, but Nairobi is also the home of Kibera, one of Africa's largest slums. Walking through Kibera, I'd see men and women in perfectly ironed suits headed out to work in downtown Nairobi. Many people have jobs, but affordable housing is so scarce that they must continue to live in the slum.
Kibera is the size of a small city and runs like one -- there are shops, homes and butcher shops, and the alleyways are full of neighbors greeting one another or rushing off to work. But the buildings are made mostly of scrap materials and there are no formal systems for sanitation and few sources of clean water; STF's partner, Shining Hope for Comunities, not only provides education for girls, but also has community programs like an inexpensive clean water well and a free clinic. According to SHOFCO, only 8% of girls in Kibera ever have the chance to go to school. The organization's Kibera School for Girls is the first tuition-free school for girls in Kibera.
She's the First currently sponsors four girls at the school and they are SO ADORABLE. The youngest, Vianca, is in P1 and the oldest, Makesh, is in P4. All four were champs on camera, and were so eager to show me and Christen they're awesome playground, which is made from recycled materials!
Our experiences visiting the girls in their classrooms are best summed up by Christen's post on She's the First's blog:
We were able to sit in on a few classes, as well, and let me tell you: These girls are smart. They took a few minutes to help us with our Swahili (see below for a new word they taught us!), and each class had a million questions for us — even the Pre-K! One third-grade student’s question was, “What are your thoughts on the girl-child?” That, of course, immediately prompted a class discussion about how they were learning to be responsible leaders and would one day take over the world. Their teacher asked only that they give her a ride whenever they see her walking by the side of the road; I asked that they keep me employed.
We had so much fun getting to know these little ones! Check back this Spring for videos featuring these four awesome girls!