The girls of Daraja Academy are from all over Kenya. They are accepted based on a few factors. First is academic, they are judged by their KCPE (which would be like a middle school version of our SAT test). Then an interview with some of the school faculty. The third and maybe most important factor is that the girls (and their parents or guardians) must be unable to pay for them to continue their education. Other factors that are considered include: Geographical location, tribal affiliation, and personal hardships (many of the girls have no parents, HIV/AIDs in the family, have been affected by violence, or have a lack of food and special consideration is given in these cases).
I am constantly amazed by their hard work and discipline. They wake up at 5am every morning to get ready for school, and do some cleaning chores, before breakfast at 730. Their weekly chores include but are not limited to: Cleaning the dining hall and dishes everyday, laundry (by hand), sorting the food (a process of picking out the bad kernels of beans, maize, and rice that we will be eating in the coming week) and cleaning their dorm/bathroom each day. On top of that they have a full academic schedule which starts at 730 am and ends at 9 pm with study hall everyday.
What is most amazing about these girls is the excitement that they bring to everything they do. Every chore is accompanied by 26 smiles, singing, and often dancing when possible. They are so happy, loving and most of all grateful for the opportunity that they have at Daraja.
I wish each and every one of you could meet these girls. My writing does not do them justice.
(pictured from top to bottom left to right: Nasibo, Hadija, Betty, Marylene, Catherine, Elizabeth)