As you may know, I spent half of last year living and working at the Daraja Academy of Kenya. It was a time that absolutely changed my life, and one that I think about every single day after having left.
The Daraja Academy is a boarding secondary school for Kenyan girls with top academic scores and exceptional leadership skills but no means to continue their education. The academy provides shelter, food, healthcare and counseling services which allows students to focus on their academic and personal potential, without being hindered by the everyday barriers of poverty.
For the last couple years, The Daraja Academy of Kenya has partnered with Bay to Breakers to raise money to support girls' education, and I had the unique experience to participate from campus just outside of Nanyuki, Kenya. While Daraja supporters run the 12k race on Sunday, May 19th in San Francisco, over 100 Daraja girls in Kenya will be running the same distance in laps around campus. Together last year, we raised over $95,000 from over 1,000 individual donors in 3 different countries. Pretty incredible, right?
Although I won't be on campus this year to run with the girls, I couldn't miss the opportunity to support girls' education, a cause so close to my heart, and I am so grateful to do so with my friend, Meghan, joining me in the race. We hope you will support us in this exciting quest!
The girls of Daraja are no ordinary girls. They share a similar phenomenon of brilliance, of beauty on the inside and out, of a light that dances in each of their eyes that is indescribably affectionate, joyful and that factor that denotes a special, unique kind of human being. The girls of Daraja are leaders. They are sisters, friends, competitors and mentors to one another. They hugged me every time they saw me, no matter how many times I passed by any given girl in a day. They smiled, sang, danced, held my hand as we walked to class, and we swapped stories about our home and families. Their accents are the most beautiful in the world. Their spirits are bright and full. It felt confusing sometimes to be around their joy while knowing the situations many of them came from, because it seems almost impossible to maintain such beautiful and driven spirits through such trial and tribulation. But they do, and seemingly with ease.
Please help us to educate these high school aged girls and provide them with tools for a brighter future. They are dedicated, committed, and eager to learn and take their knowledge back to their communities. The benefits of a Daraja education are never-ending.
About our running partner: Alice
Alice has a troubled background. She now lives in a family of four with her mom and her two brothers. After her father’s death, her uneducated mother has struggled to raise funds. She now works as a bartender in Nanyuki.
Alice loves to dance, read and sing. She believes that ‘if you sing a song all your sadness and sorrow will go away’. Because her local community did not have electricity or a reliable source of water, even a simple task such as completing her home work was a huge effort. Despite this, Alice managed to achieve the number one rank in her primary school.
In spite of Alice’s hard background, she is a bubbly and enthusiastic student who loves to learn and read. You can always find her in the library with her nose in a book. She is incredibly dedicated to achieving her dream of becoming a scientist so that she can find a cure to AIDS and cancer.
Her role model is Wangari Mathai, a female Kenyan Nobel prize winner. Alice admires her strong moral values and ability to accept herself and always have high self esteem. With Alice’s exemplary passion and drive, she will doubtlessly leave a mark just as big when she graduates.