When our school first discussed the place of females in the community, the whole class, girls and boys, laughed when I suggested there were no jobs or roles in society that girls could not aspire to.
We discussed traditional and cultural gender roles, looked at global female role models, examined job opportunities and the skills required, spoke about advances and changes in opportunities and attitude, in developing and developed nations, toward females.
We then had a debate on the topic of gender equality. The girls won it hands down. So, I put forward the same suggestion again, expecting to get a different response. I didn’t.
The girls firmly believed that it was their role after school to get married, have children, work in the home, and serve their husband.
There are many issues that perpetuate the discrimination females face in developing countries like Kenya, lack of access to good education, a high level of dropout rates once school is started, gender based violence and sexual abuse.
It was clear to me that we also faced an ingrained cultural perception that would also need to change if our female students were to make the most of the education we provide.
We have worked hard at changing attitudes and cultural practices in the school community. Our Sanitary Towels Program ensures the girls do not miss any time at school. Our debates and life skills sessions help put a focus on gender equality. We actually have more girls enrolled than boys at our school. We have intervened when parents have tried to marry off some of their girls as child brides. Our emergency accommodation is available to girls who are in danger of abuse and need refuge.
And now, with students like Winnie and Mariam, who are both pursuing tertiary education, and the two Halima’s, who are both in full time employment, we have our own role models for other young girls in our community to look at and aspire to follow.
Real and lasting change is a lengthy process but our efforts are bearing fruit. If you would like to join us in helping our girls embrace education as a way to self-empowerment and equality, then visit the sponsor page at our website today.
“Kookaburra took me from nowhere to somewhere…”, so says Halima, past student of our school and now working in a government hospital in Qatar.
In this report we focus on one of the key goals in what we do, creating role models for our community, to provide other students and their families, with the belief that education really can make a difference to their lives. Halima is one of those role models.
It takes time to educate a child, many years of course, and we are extremely grateful to those supporters who have been with us for the eight years we have been working in Kenya so far. We are finally seeing the fruits of our labours and your support, in very practical terms through the lives our past students.
In a community that has suffered from generational poverty, where the parents and grandparents either never went to, or never completed school, and where jobs are scarce, it is hard to imagine a future that is any different from the past. Our children are the future for their community.
Visit our website to read about Halima’s journey to Qatar, how Herbert’s university course in medicine is going or about Baraka’s plans to find his place in the catering and tourism industry in Mombasa. You can read, in their own words, how Kookaburra has affected their lives and shaped a future they would not have been able to contemplate otherwise.
In keeping with the theme of this report, we have just learned that another of our students has been offered a place at university to study a Diploma in Civil Engineering. We will now need to find him a sponsor. If you or someone, or a business you know, would be interested in helping him, we would love to hear from you.
If you would like to become involved in changing a child’s life then from as little as $25 per month you can educate one of our students at Kookaburra.
It's time for another update from Kookaburra amidst all the usual turmoil of the education system here in Kenya. We are hearing there is a shortage of around 150,000 trained teachers in Kenya right now. On top of that, more than half failed their teacher training certificates last year. Current teachers are being told they cannot use their holidays to pursue the tertiary qualifications they are also being told are essential for promotion… and there is another threat of a strike. What’s new?
Amidst all of that, the Kookaburra Community School ploughs on bringing hope to children from extremely poor families. In our last report we talked about the students who had competed their studies at Kookaburra and had joined our Graduate Program, sending them to high school. The good news is that they have settled in well and the first term reports we have seen from their schools so far show efforts made and achievements gained.
One of the highlights in any term is when we have visitors to our school and for a few weeks in Term One, we were delighted to welcome Maria Capurso from Adelaide. Students, Staff and Maria had an awesome couple of weeks together and we were delighted by the many creative activities she brought to the school, including producing T-Shirts (see pics).
One of the many struggles we face bringing education in one of the most challenging of locations is the constant struggle for funding. This year, for the first time in 8 years of operating the school we are facing a real battle to keep ourselves afloat. We need your help to keep educating and caring for our children and to keep hosting visitors like Maria, who has changed our lives and had hers changed in return.
You can setup once-off or recurring donations through our GlobalGiving page, or visit our website to learn more about the school programs and how you can sponsor one of our children.
Thank you for reading and for your interest in the lives of our children.