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Nov 16, 2016

Meeting Stress with Confidence and a Smile

Lucy enters her exam with a smile
Lucy enters her exam with a smile

“This is a high-stress time. But we are on course and keen.” – WISER principal, Dorcas Oyugi.

To say that emotions are high on WISER’s campus right now would be an understatement.

This week, WISER Girls in the final term of their fourth year will begin the national exam period that concludes their life-long journey to graduate secondary school.

Should a student pass the exam, they may be the first in their family to qualify for college admission. Preparations for this high-stakes test begin years in advance. Practice sessions for the marathon-like exam start as early as 6 months prior.

Anyone would feel nervous or fearful walking into a testing room with these stakes.

But look at Lucy.

Does that look like the face of a girl that is fearful for her future? Is this a girl that is afraid that she will not graduate?

No. This is a WISER Girl.

Emotions are high on-campus, but the highest of these emotions are hope, excitement, and optimism. Lucy has a lot riding on this exam, but if nothing else, WISER has prepared her to succeed. So yes, there is fear, but this moment is about proving her ability and knowing that all of us at WISER believe in her.

When we say that you, as donors, make empowering girls possible, we mean that you enable moments like this.

Your gifts and your support enable Lucy to have the mentors and safety she needs to wear a huge smile heading into her national exams. Your gifts ensure that Lucy is not worried about school fees, uniforms, or books while she studies. Your gifts mean that Lucy is not hungry when she sits down to take the exam nor is she sick.

Lucy’s smile is the picture of an empowered, confident, healthy female learner. Lucy’s smile is possible through you.

During this time, we want to ask that you keep the WISER Girls in your thoughts as they tackle this academic challenge. We also want to thank you for your belief in girls and your gifts that support their success and safety.

To borrow Principal Dorcas’ words, you help keep us on-course, and we’re extremely grateful for that.

Students prepare to begin their exam
Students prepare to begin their exam
Oct 25, 2016

WISER Girls Excited for Nearly-Finished Expansion

Third-year student Valary
Third-year student Valary

Like any other Sunday on WISER’s campus, a group of girls have walked to the front of the WISER assembly hall to lead their classmates in fellowship through song and dance. Only today, instead of looking out on girls huddled together in the cafeteria, they are looking out on the vast expanse of the largest hall in the entire sub-county.

The songs each Sunday might have to be a little louder from now on, and the WISER Girls are just fine with that.

Over the last few months, WISER’s campus has been home to a team of contractors helping to make WISER’s largest-ever expansion possible. In January 2017, WISER will have all-new STEM lab spaces, a computer lab, renovated dormitories and classrooms, and new housing for our teachers and their families. These new spaces will allow WISER to double the number of girls that join us each year.

Even before this happens, however, WISER Girls are getting to enjoy the completed assembly hall and larger living spaces. They’re planning ahead for new computer-based programs and projects that might be completed and brainstorming ways to welcome their new classmates.

Sheila, a second-year student, is excitedly awaiting the expansion, to say the least.

“Nothing could be more exciting than this expansion project. This impacts WISER, Muhuru, and me all very positively. This is not only an increase in student population, but a great opportunity to interact with new people!”

Valary, a third-year student, sees the nearly complete expansion as a sign of promising things to come. “The new WISER expansion will create opportunities not only for more girls, but for my sisters, my cousins, and maybe even my own future daughters,” says Valary, “Maybe they will have the chance to be WISER Girls.”

As we near the completion of our largest-ever expansion, WISER staff and students alike are reflecting on what this means for our organization. In just a few years, WISER’s campus will host twice as many girls looking to be empowered through education and health. And just a short time ago, this growth seemed far-off.

Luckily, the WISER Girls are supported by a crucial group of people – you. The global family of WISER supporters has taken our hope to one day reach more girls than ever and made it a current reality. We can’t remember a more hopeful time on campus, and we can say earnestly that this is thanks to all of you.

In the next few months, Valary, Sheila, and all of their classmates will come back from their end-of-year term break to a very different-looking home, and they wouldn’t want it any other way. Thank you, as always, for being a part of the global network that provides that hope, optimism, and growth. We couldn’t do it without you.

WISER contractor at work
WISER contractor at work
Assembly Hall construction before and after
Assembly Hall construction before and after
Aug 19, 2016

WISER Girls Reflect and Write on our Major Expansion

Valary puts the final touches on her Op-Ed
Valary puts the final touches on her Op-Ed

Valary sits and looks around at the Deputy Vice Principal’s office. Normally, a trip to the principal’s office might signal trouble. But today, Valary has been invited to use the space to put the final touches on her Op-Ed outlining her opinions on the WISER school expansion.

Suddenly, with a knowing look, Valary grabs her pen and writes her closing point:

“WISER has improved the lives of many Muhuru girls, and I am proud to be among the Muhuru girls given this opportunity. The new WISER expansion will create opportunities like this not only for more girls, but for my sisters, my cousins, and maybe even my own future daughters. Maybe they will have the chance to be WISER Girls.”

Powerful words from a future journalist.

The WISER campus is a busy place right now! We are happily in the middle of our largest-ever expansion and new buildings are popping up all over campus. A new dining hall, dormitory renovations, science lab, and computer lab will all provide the space necessary for the 120 additional students WISER will add to its regular enrollment over the next four years.

But in the midst of the hammering and sheet metal a much quieter practice is going on this month.

Third-year student Valary and eleven of her classmates have just completed a 10-session Op-Ed workshop to learn new writing skills and express their opinions about the events unfolding around them.

This month’s most popular topic? The upcoming expansion.

“Nothing could be more exciting than this expansion project,” writes second-year student Sheila,“This is not only an increase in student population, but a great opportunity to interact with new people.”

Through the Op-Ed workshop, WISER Girls are learning how to articulate their feelings on current events ranging from the 2017 Kenya national elections and nationwide education policy to the local fishing economy and of course, WISER’s growth.

Four of the girls in the workshop are first-year students, and are experiencing for the first time a platform through which they are asked to confidently express an opinion, however controversial it may be. They’ve risen to the challenge beautifully.

“WISER’s expansion changes the history of our community,” writes first-year student Snaider. “The current WISER Girls have a new opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with more girls than ever… this is an idea that helps all girls- the girls from Muhuru Bay and the girls from across Kenya too.”

While a number of amazing stories and arguments have emerged from the Op-Ed workshop, we’re most excited to see one thing: confidence.

These WISER Girls are proudly and emphatically writing on the issues that matter most to them and doing so without the fear of being discouraged or dissuaded.

We’re proud to offer the environment in which the confidence of young women can grow. But more than this, we’re thankful to all of you – the global family of WISER supporters – for making this environment possible.

As said before, our campus is a busy place right now, and we love it that way. So thank you, for helping build our programs and expand our campus and for empowering the WISER Girls that live, work, and write there.

Two WISER Girls review each other
Two WISER Girls review each other's writing
 
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