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Jun 2, 2017

"They are learning well"

Mama Doris
Mama Doris's Letter

Below is a letter from Mama Doris, a widow who is a guardian to her own five children as well as many other children in the village. Mama Doris has been a leader in our Umoja Guardian Self-help Groups, a cook for the Bar Anding'o school lunch program, a Girls Empowerment Team mentor, and a fierce advocate ofr the children of this community. Read her words about the impact that a simple bowl of corn and beans is having, not just for her children's immediate hunger but for their family's future: 


“My name is Mama Doris...a widow from Bar Anding’o Primary School. I have five orphans I take care of. Many organziations have come to our area promising to help our children with food support. Some have stayed for one month. Others for two months. Others three months. Up to a year. They all have failed to keep their promises. Umoja Project came and has stayed with us always. While my children are at school where they also get food for lunch, I can work more time on other people’s farms trying to save some little money to buy their dinner. I am an adult and can afford to go without food for their sake.

Umoja Project’s school lunch has made me trust in them. They keep their promise. My children are healthy and happy. They are learning well.

Thank you for the school lunch program and the many things you do as Umoja. You represent our dead spouses. I don’t know what widows like me would do without your help. Please continue always.”

-       Mama Doris, Guardian of students at Bar Anding’o Primary School



Mama Doris's words illustrate who we are, why we do what we do, and the lasting transformation your support provides. 

Mama Doris with her children at a guardian meeting
Mama Doris with her children at a guardian meeting
Mar 20, 2017

"a place where the girls can just be free"


Five girls gathered in the small classroom to share the poem they had prepared through the help of their teacher, Madame Nelly…

So I like to reap a habit.

Plant a habit; reap a character.

Plant a character; reap a destiny.

My destiny.

Once they were through, we had the opportunity to meet with Madame Nelly to talk some about the poem and it’s birthplace – Bar Anding’o Primary’s Girl’s Empowerment Team (i.e. GET UP). Nelly described how she uses the GET UP sessions to foster creativity and create a space for her girls to share their hopes, their fears, and their dreams.

GET UP has really become a place where the girls can just be free. During school time, we must focus so much on making sure the pupils pass their exams, we have little time to do much else. Therefore, the best thing I can do as a teacher and facilitator is make room for that to happen—make room for them to be free to do what they love. [Nelly]

Madame Nelly does not just use poetry with her girls; rather, she explores many different art forms in order to create a space that invites them all into full freedom and expression, no matter their passion.

We use everything – poems, songs, dances, tongue twisters, stories… people open up when they do what they love!

Such an impact should not be underestimated. Madame Judith, another facilitator for GET UP, shared with us how the program’s commitment to empowerment, courage, and creative expression allowed her to learn the tragic plight of a young student in time to intervene.

[The student] continued to write compositions about a young girl who was being raped, Judith shared. It wasn’t long before I realized that the girl she was describing was herself. I’m not sure it would have been something she could have said to me out-right, but the GET UP session and the activities allowed for her to share what was happening in her life. And it was through the trust that we had built in that space that I was able to follow up and intervene. [Judith; Bar Union Primary School]

Your contributions allow this important program to continue. On behalf of the Umoja girls, Madame Nelly and Judith, and the many other GET UP facilitators, we thank you for supporting the work that is shaping lives and securing futures!

Watch the girls at Bar Andingo' performing "My Destiny" HERE.  

Nelly and the girls singing
Nelly and the girls singing


Mar 20, 2017

"Umoja is our mother"


A former pupil of Ogada Primary and Bar Union secondary school, Jack completed his KCSE this past year and is now working as a Project Assistant for Umoja as he waits to join university. When asked about the impact the Umoja Project has had on him, Jack spoke not only of himself, but also of his fellow pupils and the bonds that Umoja has fostered.

You will find that the Umoja students often get together; we form bonds. We say ‘Umoja is our mother’, because she is the one who has brought us up – the one who has brought us here.

The way that Jack speaks of his Umoja family is evident in the way that he works within the project as well. Always smiling and full of life, Jack walks alongside his Umoja colleagues with compassion and joy – and his presence is as bright as his favorite pair of highlighter-yellow trousers! Of course, his vivaciousness in the present and anticipation for the future in no way bury his depth of gratitude for the project’s impact on his life thus far.

You will also notice that the most successful students in schools are often Umoja – that is because we are so grateful for the opportunity we have been given – and we know it would be a shame to waste it. We work hard because we know that there are so many people who have worked hard to give us that chance.

It is through your generous support that such chances are given. On behalf of Jack and all other project assistants, we thank you for securing futures worth smiling for!

Jack in his highlighter-yellow pants
Jack in his highlighter-yellow pants
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