Feb 13, 2017

Outmatching the Giants: WISER Expansion Completed!

Reading the news before class in the new library
Reading the news before class in the new library

In August, we told our wonderful supporters that the WISER Girls were writing Op-Eds about the upcoming campus expansion. Fifteen students wove their hopes and dreams for the new campus into beautifully-written prose. 

And now that the expansion is finished, we've asked WISER's principal, Dorcas Oyugi, to relay her thoughts on the new campus.

Said Dorcas, “How can I put that much excitement in words?"

It seems that the new campus is a bit overwhelming for everyone at WISER and we wouldn't ask for it to be any other way.

The WISER campus now houses two science labs, a massive assembly hall, an all-new library, sixteen homes for WISER staff, and the best computer lab in the region. It's an amazing sight to see as what was once a dirt plot less than ten years ago is now home to a girls secondary school that rivals many Kenyan universities.

"The girls are so enthusiastic about their new spaces. The library, the science labs; they have our girls celebrating, but this is exciting for everyone," said Dorcas. "I've heard guests say that we are outmatching the giants - the top performing schools in Kenya - in what we have for our girls. It's unbelievable that these resources are available in a place that is this remote."

One such resource that has the students particularly excited is the computer lab, monitored by new WISER teacher Edwin Okongo. He believes that the computer lab is not just a sign of the expansion's success, but an opportunity to break a long-standing gender gap in computer science representation.

"In any area with poverty, you're going to see access problems. It kills the morale, the desire to understand technical sciences," says Edwin. "Society, on top of this, favors male students in access to computers, and even in the university statistics, most of those studying information technology are male."

"Giving this chance to the WISER Girls is a chance to expose a new generation of female students to computing technology that was denied to them."

WISER has always been about providing empowering opportunities for girls. This expansion, and the programs that accompany it, are just the latest step in our journey toward providing all of the resources a girl could need to be educated, healthy, and in control of her own life.

None of these opportunities that we've created along the way would be possible without your support. We can't thank you enough.

Because of WISER's supporters, even our youngest students have the opportunity to dream big. Joan is a first-year student at WISER, and just joined the campus a month ago.

Her aspirations are big, and that's right where all of us want them to be.

"Right now, I'm just starting," said Joan, "but learning computer operations is exciting. I'd like to be more connected. Maybe I will soon write and send letters to friends, and then continue to grow from there. Teacher Edwin says we will do photo editing, and I'd like to be doing that soon."

WISER Girls at work in the new Computer Lab
WISER Girls at work in the new Computer Lab
Computer Skills class time
Computer Skills class time
New WISER Assembly Hall
New WISER Assembly Hall
Jan 20, 2017

A Special Story to Celebrate AWF & WISER's Success

AWF Riders support WISER during the RAAM
AWF Riders support WISER during the RAAM

When the partnership between AWF and WISER first began, we set a goal of raising $30,000 via the GlobalGiving platform through hard work, advocacy, and sharing our story.

Today, we are closing the AWF-WISER project on GlobalGiving after surpassing our target by more than $8,000. And although this single GlobalGiving project has closed, the partnership between WISER and AWF goes on as strong as ever!

As a thank you to all of you from across the globe that supported this partnership, we’d like to share a special story of success from the WISER Class of 2016, which has just completed Kenyan national exams and looks hopefully to the future.

When Lucy entered WISER’s assembly hall to begin the national exam that would determine her academic future, she did so fearlessly.

“As I walked with courage, determination, confidence, and commitment towards my (exam) after a period of 4 years at WISER, I was hopeful that I would be among the victors come 2017.”

And among the victors she would be. We’re thrilled to announce that Lucy is one fourteen different WISER Girls that have qualified for fully-funded university education in Kenya. As an academic trailblazer in her family, Lucy knows that her success comes from responsibility and hard work, and she’s welcomed that fact with open arms.

“The harder I’ve worked, the luckier I’ve been – I’ve become a brilliant young lady, a great footballer, and a role model student to this Muhuru Bay community and to my siblings …I’ve had roadblocks. Everybody has them. But obstacles don’t have to stop me.”

Looking back on her time at WISER, Lucy has two groups of people that she believes drove her to success:

Her teachers: “I’m happier than anyone in the world to have this bright future through the loving, concerned, caring teachers that have equipped me with my skills and knowledge.”

And you.

“Through all of the support from our well-wishers and donors, I’m so happy. How grateful I am to be a WISER Girl! Thank you to everyone that made this real!”

We share Lucy’s appreciation for what you’ve done to support WISER via AWF and GlobalGiving. What you’ve done is make stories like Lucy’s go from impossible and rare to a new standard of excellence for young girls in Muhuru Bay. We can’t thank you enough!

Should you wish to continue to support WISER, please join our other GlobalGiving project located here: https://goo.gl/dSOvWm

With much gratitude and hope for the future,

Zack Fowler

WISER Managing Director of Programs

Lucy enters her national exam
Lucy enters her national exam
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
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