Ashley Nicole Johnson via Crowdrise
April 27, 2012
I have been at The Daraja Leadership Academy for over 2 months now. (WOW!) When I first arrived and met all the students, I sat down at a table to sort beans with the girls. All the beans for the next couple days were spread out on long wooden tables, and we sat shoulder to shoulder, sorting the good ones from the bad. A Form 2 (sophomore) tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Do you miss your family?” I looked down at her and smiled. Her skin glowed, her eyes bright. “Yes, so very much already.” She put her arm around me and smiled the biggest smile I had ever seen. “My name is Zaituna,” she said, “and we are all your family now.” I looked around the table, at the girls smiling and nodding in unison. This was the first of many times that tears would spring to my eyes within the first 24 hours of spending time in the presence of the girls of Daraja.
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 hug me every time they see me, no matter how many times I pass by any given girl in a day. They smile, sing, dance, hold my hand as we walk to a class, and tell me about their home and families. Their accents are the most beautiful in the world. Their spirits are bright and full. It feels 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.
Ok, here's my schpiel:
No matter where we are in the world, we know that certain things are universally important to us all: love, hope, opportunity. You can give the future female leaders of Kenya all three of these things by supporting this Race for Daraja team that I've created. A little bit goes a long way, and although separated by an ocean, we can show strength in solidarity for a cause as important as girls' education. Thank you in advance for any amount that you can contribute to a cause that is so close to my heart, and so important for the future of not only these girls, but of the country that has welcomed me with love: Kenya.