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Sep 16, 2015

When you give birth to a daugther you have no child.

Rose at graduation
Rose at graduation

“When you give birth to a daughter, you have no child.”

I recently heard this comment when talking to Dorcas Odhiambo, the principal of the WISER school. Dorcas’ mother had given birth to six daughters, so she had no children worth counting.

But Dorcas had a spark in her, went to school, and earned scholarships. Now Dorcas has reached the pinnacle of education, having served on presidential commissions for education reform in Kenya. And Dorcas is paying it forward. Instead of an easy retirement she moved to rural Kenya to open WISER and help a community believe that when you give birth to a girl, you have a child full of talent and potential.

In July Dorcas and I joyfully celebrated WISER’s second graduation. Once again 100% of our girls passed the national exam and 80% are going to college or university. A third of our girls scored so high that they have full government support! And some of those high performing girls are girls who were abandoned by their families as not worth investing in. Girls who were born and grew up, but were not counted. Now they are.

WISER girls are showing the world that even the poorest girl can be successful. And their families and communities are rallying around them. At WISER’s graduation over 1,000 people came to celebrate the success of their girls. All around our field girls were being hugged and adorned with garlands. I love the photo above of Rose and a supportive community member after graduation. She is glowing, proud of her accomplishment, and he is holding her close, cherishing her. Here is a girl who is counted and will pave the way for more girls to matter.

WISER alumni are now attending 23 different universities and colleges across Kenya. One of our alumni was selected as a MasterCard Foundation Scholar and has full funding to study in the United States. These girls are fighting the odds and winning. They are pioneers in their community. Ally with them. Join Dorcas, Rose and the other 180 WISER girls who are paying it forward. They all count.

Today, September 16, please show your support for WISER on Global Giving and we will receive a 30% match. Up to $70,000 will be given out as matching funds, but that money could go fast and we are competing with other groups. Can you do your part to steer that bonus to the WISER girls? Please consider a donation, of any size, today to create more joyful, game-changing alumni, like Rose.

Matching funds are only available today. Please donate at this link:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/keep-girls-in-school-and-out-of-marriage-in-kenya/

Jun 8, 2015

WISER Girls Got Game!

engineering club
engineering club

What do you do when you start an after school club and 90 girls show up?  You roll with the enthusiasm! 

Term 2 just started at WISER and with it the annual collaboration with students from Duke University. A main project is building on our Lighting Up STEM Education project, part of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project of the Clinton Global Initiative.  Duke sophomore Jenna Peters went to Kenya this year to build on the sustainable energy project the WISER girls have been working on for a year. The girls have learned how to design circuits and test models for turning mechanical energy (shaking, swinging, cranking) into light that allows them to study at night and walk safely in the dark. In a community without access to electricity, light is a gendered issue, and light for boys is prioritized. With this motivation 100 flashlights or lamps have been built by the girls inside discarded water bottles and old peanut butter jars.

Why did 90 girls show up for Jenna’s first club session? The girls want to improve themselves and be change agents for community. Having never met a female engineer one WISER girl loved the career path the club opened, saying “I really like the knowledge and skills engineering club is giving me because it gives me the strength and courage of being an engineer.” Another girl said, “I want to learn how I can help the problem of electricity in my community by providing a cheaper way of getting light”. A third said she is now inspired to “come up with new innovations and invent other things.’

Working with WISER girls changes you. They inspire and humble you with their drive for change. We get caught up in the details and logistics of running programs and projects, but the girls never stop dreaming of ways to use their knowledge to change their world.  They got game.

Mar 24, 2015

Who is the girl in the WISER picture?

Volca wants to improve health in her community
Volca wants to improve health in her community

When you gave to WISER's project you saw a smiling young woman standing near the world map painted in the WISER meeting hall. But have you wondered who that confident girl in our photo is?  Meet Volca, here shown in her school uniform. Volca was raised by her mother after her father passed away. While her brother finished secondary school, Volca’s sister was not able to continue her education and dropped out. Volca fears that without a scholarship to WISER she too would have to leave school.  

When asked about her time at WISER Volca points out that "there is no caning and the teachers are friendly and supportive,” reflecting the emphasis WISER puts on a physically safe environment for learning and treating girls with dignity, not always found in this region. Volca also says WISER has brought community-wide change in how girls are valued: “Since WISER came many things have totally changed. Nowadays girls education is valued the same as boys.”

Muhuru has many health challenges, from HIV to malaria to high infant mortality. Volca is in her final year at WISER, dreams of becoming a doctor, and says she will bring a special empathy towards people who have struggled as she has. 

With your help we are close to having enough funds to support seven more girls like Volca. We hope to raise one more scholarship and get up to 8 girls before the Challenge ends. Can you help us spread the word so more girls can get safe and effective education and stay in school and out of marriage?

Best.

Sherryl

 
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