“To orphans, girls and woman in my village, this Global Giving/PATHWAYS project means a timely opportunity to help them stand for themselves and obtain an education, necessary resources, leadership positions, and the power to make their own decisions as well as serve as role models for the next generation. Your support is critical to achieving this goal. Thank you.” Isaac Ngere, 2005 PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress scholar and University of Nairobi medical school student due to graduate in December 2010 and start his internship in early 2011.
With the help of donors like you, we have been able to build three classrooms (20 by 15 feet each) housed in one building. See photos of the stainless steel classroom building (outside and inside) and latrine. We will continue to use the two original classrooms, one will remain as a classroom and the other will be used as a school store (see photo of original classroom with children in front). The planned library and offices will be housed in two current buildings after refashioning and repairs (see one of the additional current buildings to the left of the original classroom). I expect this design will help us for sometime as we gather ourselves to build more rooms in the future. In the solar-electricity plan that we have approved for installation, we will connect all the buildings in the compound to the grid (i.e. the three new classrooms, the two older classrooms, the proposed library building and the offices). When the library is ready, we will then purchase the books that many of you donated for the children and also some reference books on, for instance, HIV/AIDS prevention and entrepreneurial lessons.
I want to help you understand the context of this project and why your contribution to helping my community means so much. First, HIV prevalence in this region of Western Kenya is high and many parents have passed away leaving their children orphaned. Second, the position of a girl child in my community (Wagire) is, as in many other developing societies, unfair. Our cultural practices hold the boy child up as superior, deserving of accolades and being served and attended to by the womenfolk. The few opportunities available in a family are awarded to the boy child because he is viewed as a source of security and future economic stability for the family unit. Only when there happens to be a surplus of resources in a family does a girl get to be recognized and given an opportunity to go to school, albeit still inferior to the one afforded to the boy. Girls who get to go to school still have to contend with being kept home from school frequently for many reasons including the need to make a meal for the family when the mother is away, look after her sick or young siblings, fetch water and firewood, get food from the market, help their mothers in doing small businesses to procure income for the family, wash, clean and cook a meal for the teachers or to escape the taunts of the male children when she is experiencing her menstrual flows, since she often does not have the comfort of using a sanitary pad.
As if that is not enough, because of the lack of opportunity for girls to be educated and make money, they are often lured into early sexual encounters for a small amount of cash and gifts. As a consequence, many young girls end up pregnant, confused and possibly HIV positive. To obtain income, parents give her away (for gifts or cash) to be married, probably as a second wife, with the proceeds used to educate the males from the family. The result of this is a gross imbalance in levels of education and empowerment of girls and women compared to boys. This vicious cycle repeats ad infinitum since our mothers lack a voice in a marriage set up, and cannot advocate for the poor girls.
My community has never had a single initiative or affirmative action to reverse these trends. Through this major initiative made possible by Global Giving/PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress, we are for the first time making a concerted effort toward educating girls, women and orphans who will go on to educate others and serve as role models so that we can begin a new cycle of female empowerment and education.
With this Global Giving/PATHWAYS initiative, we will be able to conduct education on topics such as wife inheritance and empowerment of widows to be self-reliant so that they do not have to rely on the institution of wife-inheritance in order to survive. We will stock reading materials on HIV/AIDS for people to access them easily at the
village level in addition to conducting seminars and teaching on HIV/AIDS prevention and other issues of reproductive health that are relevant to my community, for example teenage pregnancies and single parenthood, sexually
transmitted infections (STI), positive living in the context of AIDS for those who are already infected, early marriages, and male circumcision. By bringing the community members together, we will be able to start a rotary micro finance
strategy among the women and youths so as to enable those who we have trained to start small entrepreneurship to obtain start up money.
Doing this ourselves at the village level will yield the best results as opposed to having an outside organization come in, even one with the best of intentions, because we understand our own ways and culture. To me, this is the essence of the Global Giving/PATHWAYS initiative– working within and with the community to improve the way of life, the standard of living, the overall social and economic environment.
To orphans, girls and woman in my village, this Global Giving/PATHWAYS project means a timely opportunity to help them stand for themselves and obtain an education, necessary resources, leadership positions, and the power to make their own decisions as well as serve as role models for the next generation. Your support is critical to achieving this goal. Thank you!
Outside of new classroom building
Inside of new classroom building
Original school classrooms with students in front
On left-future library/offices
Side view of new classroom building
Future role model and leader