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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
Jul 28, 2016

Lucy's Story and the WISER Class of 2015

Lucy, WISER Intern and c/o 2015 alumna
Lucy, WISER Intern and c/o 2015 alumna

“During graduation, I was unbelievably happy. When my name was called, I felt so proud of myself. My family knew that moment was the end of a lifelong goal, and they were proud of me too. My sister immediately told me that she wanted to study, to learn, to be like me – to be a WISER Girl.”

When Lucy first came to WISER, she had ambitious goals. She wanted to be the first in her family to finish high school. She wanted to be the first in her family to pass the Kenyan national exam. She wanted to be the first person in her entire village to join a university.

Four years later, she’s done all of those things.

After graduating #2 in the WISER class of 2015, Lucy is getting ready to begin her studies at Kenyatta University, where she will pursue a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Yet even before beginning college, Lucy is finding ways to give back to WISER. She is currently an Intern at the WISER school, and while she enjoys her job responsibilities, she enjoys the chance to be a role model to other girls even more.

Recently, I asked Lucy: “Do you think you can be a role model to other girls?”

Her answer made it clear:

“Not can be. I am. The comments I get in my village are wonderful. Some girls are asking me, how did you make it? They want to go to school, my sisters want to be like me. I’m an example to my community. I’m the first in my village to get a degree! I’m the first to go to university. So everyone looks to me and I’ve become the role model I wanted to be. Now, I can encourage girls everywhere.”

Lucy is only one of the incredible success stories to come out of the WISER class of 2015 that graduated this June. All 27 graduates qualified for university admission and 16 WISER Girls have received full government scholarships. WISER Girls have been accepted to programs in everything from Agricultural Economics to Electrical Engineering and many of them will be the “first in their family” – just like Lucy.

Stories like Lucy’s are dreams coming true, and none of these dreams would be possible without you. When you provide support, you make dreams a reality, and you help build a network of driven, successful, brilliant young women.

 So while we at WISER are certainly thankful for your support and dedication, we’ll let you hear it from Lucy in her own words:

“WISER gave me more than I can say. Finding an opportunity like this is hard, but to actually be given it is a blessing. My siblings didn’t go to high school because of poverty. WISER and the people that support WISER opened the door for me… I’m so thankful to WISER supporters. I hope they find the kind heart to help other girls in the same way that they helped me.”

The WISER Graduating Class of 2015
The WISER Graduating Class of 2015

Links:

May 23, 2016

Educating Girls in Rural Kenya

Meet Carol
Meet Carol

WISER International is a nonprofit 501c3 community development organization that supports education, health, and economic development activities in Muhuru Bay, Kenya with the main focus of empowering girls. Our flagship program is a secondary boarding school for girls.

Why WISER?

WISER’s mission is to empower girls through health and education.

Before WISER, only one girl from Muhuru Bay in 30 years attended a university. Now, 85% of WISER alumni attend higher education and many have the opportunity to study in STEM fields. WISER is committed to high quality STEM education for girls and our students outcompete boys.

WISER takes a holistic approach to the boarding school environment. Unlike other schools in the area, WISER provides everything a girl needs to be successful including – clothes, books, safe housing, female role models, leadership training, healthy food, mosquito nets, HIV education, and essential medicine. The program includes psychological support and counseling, as one third of our students are orphans. In addition, sexual abuse is common in the Kenya education system and many students have histories of trauma. Teachers, staff, and administration live on campus with the girls, providing them with guidance and support throughout the year.

WISER has also implemented community health programs including – information about sexual and reproductive health, HIV testing and counseling, sanitary pad provision to over 400 girls, sustainable gardening, and clean drinking water for 5,000 people.

WISER girls have all the tools to become empowered and successful global citizens.

What Is Happening Now?

The WISER boarding school is under construction to double WISER’s enrollment from 120 to 240 and provide — a new science lab, more student and teacher housing, and an event hall to host community events.
 
WISER is also expanding its Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs and planning additional outreach into the community. 
 
WISER’s Impact

85% of all WISER girls attend college or university.

WISER has had three graduating classes since opening its doors in 2010.
 
30% of the WISER girls are orphans.
 
Unlike the 70% attrition due to pregnancy in neighboring schools, the WISER secondary school has had zero attrition.
 
Despite taking low performing students, the WISER secondary school is ranked in the top 5% of private secondary schools in Kenya.

In 2016, the first class of WISER girls will be graduating from a university.

Meet Carol

Carol was fearful she would never go to school due to the death of her father and her mother’s long-term sickness. WISER has made her hopeful again.

“I want to go out and get a job, a successful one, and bring my siblings back to school,” she said.

Meet Christine

Christine is a member of WISER’s second graduating class.Currently a student at Kenyatta University, Christine is the first member of her entire family to attend a university.

She hopes to one day become a teacher.

Thank You Donors!

On behalf of the WISER Internatiaonl board of directors, we would like to thank you for your loyalty to the WISER girls. Because of your donations, girls have access to everything they need to succeed. Their success is your success! Thank you!

Meet Christine
Meet Christine
Purity enjoys spending time in the school garden.
Purity enjoys spending time in the school garden.

Links:

 
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