Reporting to College

The girls reported back to college yesterday. They were all to report to school by 5 p.m. One of the girls came to Nairobi on Saturday; we dropped her back to school by 4 p.m. Two of the girls had not arrived by the time we left school, but they finally got to college. We shopped for supplies with one of the girls and left her to share it with the rest when they got to school. One of the girls is very happy that she is almost finishing college. It is a huge achievement for her, and she voices her elation a lot.  We had a long chat with her yesterday. She was telling me that no one expected the daughter of a local beer brewer to amount to anything. They expected her to join her mother’s trade, since they are taught how to brew at an early age, but she has put the critics to shame. She says her mother who has never seen the inside of a classroom was very much against girls getting an education. A girl was supposed to get cut, get a husband, and earn the family the very coveted camels, cows and sheep. But after seeing the positive change in Sandra after getting an education, she has totally changed her mind-set and now even asks when school is opening. Sandra laughs when she talks about her mother, talking of her prowess as a brewer. She takes her brew to the local drinking dens and all her alcohol is bought. The downside is that she drinks some of the brew and comes back home singing. Sandra laughs when she narrates the story. We look at her, and we all laugh. She loves her mother just the way she is but hopes that one day she will stop drinking. We leave for Meru tomorrow as we prepare for the youth seminar that starts on the 28th to the 30th. We have put everything that is needed in place. We will meet the volunteers tomorrow, so we can brief them again on what is required of them. We are praying for a fruitful...

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Girls excelled in exams

Yesterday, we had a meeting in Meru with the personal assistant to Father Bernard and others regarding our upcoming event. We had already prepared the program and went through it with them. We all agreed the topics we planned for discussion were good and appropriate for the age group we are targeting for the youth seminar. Our target is girls from the age of 12-17 years old. The church already started the registration of the students, and to date, we have registered at least 60 students coming from the neighboring homes. They agree the seminar could not have come at a better time, with the crisis that is being faced by the majority of schools as regards teenage pregnancies. The seminar will be very much appreciated. The church is hosting several boys, around 75 of them that have been circumcised this season, and so we will have a day program where the girls come and leave at the end of the day for their homes. We discussed the budget, facilitators, and menu for the program. The church will graciously give us a hall to use. We will cater the meals there and display the materials we will be using. The school performed very well in the just ended standard 8 exams. The top two students were girls, and our plan is to have them come for the seminar where they will give the other girls tips on how to pass exams and encourage them to stay focused in school. 500 is the highest mark one can achieve on this exam; the first girl had 425 marks, and the second girl had 412 marks. They made the whole community proud, and we will congratulate them with a gift on the day they come to speak. They both come from very poor families, but that did not deter them from performing well in their exams. Their story will inspire the rest of the girls. We agreed to hold the seminar from the 28th to 30th of...

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Preparing for the Holiday Program

One of our girls reported to Moi Teachers Training College in Baringo yesterday. Baringo is 296 kilometers from Nairobi (184 miles). She will board at the school for the next four weeks. Her baby is 11 months old, so she left her with her mother. Valvisions paid the tuition fees and sent a copy to the school. She is elated to be back at school, and she sends her warmest regards and gratitude. She realizes how lucky she is to have a second chance to further her education. Father Bernard informs me that they will have two programs for boys.  The first will run from the 20th of November to the 11th of December, and the second one from the 30th of November to the 22nd of December. This will be for the boys who will be circumcised in the month of December as is the custom. Father Bernard is happy that we are planning to run the Valvisions’ program around the same time. The message from the alternative-right of passage will be very clear that circumcision is okay for the boys, but not for the girls. The church started the announcements this past Sunday asking the girls to register for the program, and the response is very good. The parents are also happy to hear that the girls will go through a mentorship program. With the current news that has left many parents in shock regarding teenage pregnancies, the program could not have come at a better time. This holiday is long, having the children home for 2 months puts the parents under a lot of stress. Peer pressure is very real, and most girls tend to engage in risky behavior during the holidays and the results are usually very dire. Most pregnancies occur during the school holidays. Anything to keep these teenagers engaged is very welcome, so they can stay out of mischief. The parents are also not able to talk to their children about sexual matters, and they are happy to have someone else do...

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Arriving at College

The girls resume college at Thogoto on the 25th of November. We talked to them today, and they are all home enjoying the holiday with their families. One of our girls got admission for the same teaching course at Moi Teachers College in Baringo. This is better for her because of her baby; it is near her home in Pokot, and she can go home on Sundays to see her baby who she intends to leave with her mother. Another girl will come to Thogoto with three others on the 25th. She had already started classes there, so she will just continue doing the same. We will get further details from the college in the course of the week regarding her re-admission, but they had earlier said there should not be a problem. The primary school examinations have come to an end. It was sad to have over 10 girls give birth during the examinations. The majority of these girls sat their exams in the hospital, and that begs the question: “What is happening to our children?” These kids are only  between ages 10-15, still children themselves. When they were interviewed, it was discovered that most of the young girls had been taken advantage of by their teachers and other close relatives; neighbors are also abusing these young girls. Poverty plays a big role; most of the girls are enticed with material things and food. The majority of them said they were too embarrassed to tell their parents what had happened because they feared the repercussions, until they started showing. It was disheartening to hear that out of 10 pregnant girls in the same class, all were below 15 years of age. The Choice Club is an important tool for these children. They need someone who can talk to them, someone who will give them information without sugar coating anything. Shiners School and Kimuka School really appreciate the help they are getting from the Choice Club, talking to the girls and not tiring from repeating the same message. It may save a girl or two and that’s well worth the effort. The Kimuka Choice Club members expressed their appreciation and gave us a beautiful appreciation card and note. We are meeting with Father Bernard in Meru on the 16th of this month to discuss the Holiday Program. We intend to hold the conference the first or second week of...

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Kimuka School Choice Club

Lack of tuition fees, broken families, poor grades, relationships with the opposite sex, and peer pressure were some of the items that the members of the Choice Club at Kimuka School felt are giving them the hardest time. We gave them the same quiz that was given at the Shiners Girls School, and though some of the answers were similar, lack of tuition fees featured as one of the major reasons that caused great concern to the Kimuka girls. Family is definitely very important to all the girls, and again it was clear that the mothers are playing a great role in the lives of these girls. The majority of the girls in the Kimuka school are from the MAA community where they practice FGM. Though some of the girls have already been cut, they now understand the dangers, and would like to be a voice that speaks against this horrendous vice in their community. Those that are about to sit their Form 4 exams are understandably anxious about passing the exams. They fear that if they fail, their lives will have no meaning, and they won’t be able to achieve the goals they have set for themselves in life. Some of the responses and the questions the girls raised will help me set up the program for the 3-day December holiday program we intend to have in Meru. Schools country wide have now closed for the holidays, so they can accommodate room for the Form 4’s who are about to sit their final exams. The exam period is very tense with most schools keeping away any strangers, friends and even relatives from the schools to avoid exam leakage. Unlike last year, when we had students burning their dormitories and causing a lot of damage in the schools prior to the exams, this year has been calm, and the teachers have had ample time to prepare the students for the coming exams. At the Choice Club, we recognized the Form 4’s both in Shiners and in Kimuka by gifting them with Success Cards and giving them messages of encouragement. We have been in communication with the Valvisions’ girls. They are all home for the holidays. They will come to Thogoto in December for their college studies. Two of them are looking forward to joining college in December. One will continue where she left off and another will start a...

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Graduation Day

Kimuka School “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson However meaningful you consider your life might be, there’s always another place you long to be. You are never satisfied because the ego convinces you happiness will be found once you pursue the next undertaking. Do you feel that way? That you are unhappy and longing for something more, whether it is a better relationship, improved financial conditions, a better career or more material belongings? Yet when these things arrive, you are only satisfied temporarily. Soon enough, the excitement vanishes and off you go, looking for the next adventure to keep you captivated. This was part of the message the Choice Club members and the rest of the school received from our guest speaker, Mr. Charles Macharia, at the Graduation Ceremony held at Kimuka school. The school being Christian-based, we were requested to bring in a minister of the gospel who would put a Christian perspective into the message of the day. He quoted scripture verses to help the girls live a life worthy of God’s calling and one that would help them remain true to themselves. He gave them 5 instructions to ponder on even as they close school for the December holidays. They were: Live in the present moment- When we are not living in the present moment, we are either regretting the past or worrying about the future. But will regretting the past change that it happened? Do we have the ability to control something that hasn’t even taken place yet? Of course, because the answer to both questions is ‘no’, all that we are left with is the present moment. Focus on one thing– Remain focused on one thing at a time; finish it to completion before moving onto the next task. This exists as a natural extension of living in the present moment. Make changes today, not tomorrow- Delaying our participation in intentions we’ve set for ourselves means that we are essentially delaying our purpose. Be of service to others– Our ultimate purpose is to serve others, for it is in the act of service that we find the greatest potential for fulfilment Practice– Practice growth every day. We can move far beyond the limitations presented...

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