Looking back to when I first learned about Free The Children and WE, I looked into their five pillars of impact– Education, Water, Food, Health and Opportunity. These work together to address poverty – the root and the solutions. I quickly learned about the challenges around education and that not all school-age children go to school like my friends and I here in Canada. This is especially true for girls who are often not able to go to school because their families rely on them for help with chores such as collecting water and helping take care of younger siblings.
I have continued to learn and use my voice around education. Malala is one of my greatest role models and I have been inspired by her passion. I have watched her and her father, Ziauddin, as they continue to draw the world’s attention to education.
Kisaruni All-Girls Secondary School was founded by Free The Children in 2011 and provides the opportunity for girls to go to high school. When I think about Kenya, I think about Kisaruni. I believe that education is the key to success and Kisaruni gives so many different opportunities for success for girls – Kisaruni gives an amazing education, but also leadership and skills.
That’s why I was so excited to visit the high school when I went to Kenya and I was so happy to spend so much time there. Kisaruni was definitely my favourite part about my trip. Here are three reasons why.
1, The Learners and Guiders
You know how in North America there are students and teachers? Well at Kisaruni, there are the learners and the guiders. The girls at Kisaruni call themselves learners because they believe that they should guide their own education and change the world on their own, with guiding – this is why the teachers are called the guiders. I think it’s so cool that the girls are taking their education into their own hands and being confident women while still knowing they need help along the way.
2. Kisaruni Community Pillars
To make sure that the Kisaruni community is healthy and happy and everyone supports each other, they implemented five community pillars. The first pillar is ‘being community’: This pillar makes sure that there is a family type feel at Kisaruni, everyone is responsible for others and the environment and that everyone is heard and appreciated. The second pillar is ‘building on cultural values’: This makes sure that the learners bring the respect, responsibility and hospitality they had within their families and communities to the school. The third pillar is ‘valuing diversity: This is one of my favourites. This is about recognizing that everyone is unique and we all have different gifts that we should respect and develop. The fourth pillar is ‘promoting leadership’: I love this one. Kisaruni believes that the learners should have a strong sense of self-confidence and build the skills and abilities needed to have the power to contribute to the world. The fifth pillar is ‘encouraging active learning’: Kisaruni offers a curriculum that promotes engagement, interaction and participation to ensure success.
3. Education is Everything
Something that amazes me about the all of the learners at Kisaruni get up at 4:30 AM to clean their dorms (the high school is a boarding school) and go to sleep at 10:00 PM. Wow, right? They get up at this time so that they can go to their classes. Their dedication and drive for their education is absolutely incredible.
We’re just a few weeks into a new school year and I think about my peers at Kisaruni everyday. Visiting Kisaruni has taught me a few things that will definitely help me in school. When I go to school, I go as a learner and take my learning into my own hands. For me, that means taking initiative, asking questions when I need to and studying when I’m not asked.
Something else that I take into the new school year is not to take my education for granted. The learners at Kisaruni worked so hard to get into the school and now they get up at 4:30 to get their school day started. I had the chance to spend some time with the grade 10 class and they just kept raving about how much they love school and their classes, what their favourite subject is and what they are going to do for their careers. Going to school and getting the best education for them is a dream. They know that an education will lead to a job and income and that means providing for and bettering their family and community. In North America, a lot of us are guilty of not liking school and not wanting to get up at 7:00 or 7:30 in the morning. But while we are struggling with getting up at that time, the Kisaruni learners are already happily into their third class.
My time with the girls of Kisaruni reminds me that I am so fortunate to get to go to school and I’m going to honour that every chance I can.
I made this slideshow with my favourite photos and moments from my day at Kisaruni. I had a chance to sing “Jambo” with the grade 10 class that plays in the slideshow. When I think about my time in Kenya, this is what I hear.
My Day At Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School by Slidely Slideshow
In June 2016 I went on a long-anticipated journey to the Maasai Mara in Kenya with Me to WE. I was on a special assignment from RBC Royal Bank to explore the impacts that are being made in each of the WE Villages’ 5 Pillars: Education, Water, Food, Health and Opportunity. Like me, RBC is passionate about making a difference and they have been donating a portion of every purchase made using the Free the Children RBC® Virtual Visaǂ Debit Card to support WE Villages initiatives. To date $500,000 has been donated and I can tell you that the impact goes a long way to creating lasting and sustainable change. This blog post is part of a series that I am writing to share how far our change goes – both in distance and in impact.