At the very same time on May 20th, 2012... Jael, a Form 1 student at Daraja Academy Kenya will be running hard to raise money to help make her dream a reality... a high school education. At the very same time, half a world away in California, Daraja founder Jason Doherty will be cheering for her and his dream... her high school education.
Please give what you can, and help support us and our shared dream...
Jael's Story (sometimes the stars lineup)
The Daraja Academy administrative team interviewed Jael on the last day of a nearly 2-month interview process. 100s of hopeful girls had been interviewed, 1000s of miles had been logged in driving ALL OVER Kenya. If I am going to be honest, we were in western Kenya, near the Ugandan boarder, in the shadow of Mt. Elgon and I (1/4th of the interviewing team) awoke already looking past the last few interviews. We already had 35+ excellent candidates to fill the 26 open spots for 2012... but Jael was having nothing of it.
Though before that fateful day Jael had once seen an elderly Italian nun when she was very young she was remarkably confident and poised during her interview, which turned out to be Daraja's longest interview in 2012. Plainly, she was too good for Daraja Academy NOT to take and was the reason we took 28 girls this year rather than 26 (since classes are split in half for English, Swahili and math class, Daraja keeps classes in even numbers of students).
There are three non-negotiable when it comes to being considered by Daraja Academy. Jael's primary school grades were great. It became clear that she had great leadership skills and the potential to strengthen them. But it was the 3rd prerequisite and the strength Jael showed while facing them, that impressed me SO much. There was absolutely no way that this bright, passionate young lady could attend secondary school in any other way. Though her and her mother had faced bitter hardships because of their level of need, like a diamond, the pressure only made her more beautiful.
This little lady that the World was trying to brush under the rug and forget, willed her way into secondary school, but she needs your help. Please support her as she runs to raise money for her education. Please tell your friends and family, that there is a future world leader who needs their help in a little school on the equator in Kenya. Please give what you can for Jael, for Daraja Academy and because you believe girls deserve to be educated too.
• If you only read one "fact", READ THIS ONE!!! Jael comes from Alale... a VERY rural village in North Western Kenya where few primary school teachers speak English very well, let alone their students. In 4 years a pattern has emerged at Daraja: it almost always takes several years for students who come from "the bush" to hone their language skills in order to "compete academically" with their peers. Because Jael was so bright, I felt by her 2nd year she might be able to give the top 5 girls in her class a run for their money... at the conclusion of Year 1, Semester 1 of her Daraja Academy tenure, the country girl from Alale was ranked FIRST out of 28 students, not changing expectations but obliterating them!
• The part of Kenya where Jael is from ((far) Northern Pokot) is so rural that it is easier to slip over the Ugandan border for hard to get goods and health care than it is to travel within Kenya.
• Jael and her mother survived by sifting the dry streambeds for gold dust. Hard, hot backbreaking work which where bandits often victimized the workers and brought in very little money because they sold it too middlle-men who paid pennies on the dollar for the gold.
• Much of this little ladies strength comes from her single mother, her father passed away while her mother was pregnant. -- Jael's tribe has slightly different norms when it comes to marriage customs. Rather than going only to the parents, dowries are spread throughout the extended male members of the family. After primary school, Jael was 15 years old and some of the extended family felt it was time for her to be married. Family fights and tempers flared... though Momma Jael didnt have the money to send her to high school, and none of her 4 siblings were able to attend high school, she would not allow anyone to interfere with her daughter's dreams. She put her self at risk and according to her... prayed for a miracle.
This is your part. Play a role in this already incredible story. Why Jael was put into Daraja Academy's path when she was is still unknown.
What I know is that she absolutely deserves your help. In so many ways Jael has ALREADY done the impossible. Donate as she gets to pay for her education - not in hard earned gold dust, but in effort. So long as you don't donate anonymously, I promise she will know who you are AND THAT, to a girl like Jael is almost as important as the donation itself.
Thank you in advance, spread the word... all my love,