Education  Kenya Project #19783

Empower and Educate WISER girls in rural Kenya

by WISER International
Student leaders Hillary, Leila, & Linah at EAGLS
Student leaders Hillary, Leila, & Linah at EAGLS

In Muhuru Bay, over half of all girls that make it to high school will drop out due to early pregnancy.

The girls at WISER have something to say about that.

“Where I come from, teen pregnancy is overwhelming," says Hillary, a second-year student. "It overcomes the future of girls in my home area, and there’s only one thing that can happen – it has to stop.”

Hillary is just one of the WISER girls setting an ambitious goal for 2018 – they want to not only end early pregnancy at WISER, but to reduce early pregnancy by 33% in three neighboring schools.

This, they say, is the first step toward creating a generation of girls that finish school unimpeded and they believe it's essential that girls are leading the way.

“The main challenge for girls in this area has been teenage pregnancy," says student leader Linah. "But, when you have girls in leadership positions who are addressing pregnancy, you have leadership that understands what girls are going through. This can make change happen.”

To drive this change, a team of 15 student leaders at WISER have launched the early pregnancy prevention project; a series of workshops, interactive skits, and lectures led by girls - for girls. The sessions cover serious issues in the community including access to contraceptives, avoiding coercive relationships, and speaking openly about sex education.

The project was inspired by the East African Girls Leadership Summit (EAGLS), an initiative designed to help girls grow into changemakers in their home communities. Three WISER students and teachers attended the summit in 2017 and they’ve wasted no time putting what they learned to good use.

“Girls have not gotten equal opportunities because they face pregnancies often and they face them alone,” says Linah, who attended EAGLS in 2017. “It is past time to give girls an equal chance at education in this community.”

Throughout 2018, WISER students hope to reach nearly 200 girls with their sessions and they’ll be watching the pregnancy rate of neighboring schools closely. But if their passion is an indicator for their success, then the rates are sure to drop in no time.

“Girls cannot keep quiet," says Linah. "It is right to speak out – it is right to protect the chance for an education."

Thank you to all of the members of the WISER Global Family that have supported us on GlobalGiving. We hope you agree with Linah that it is right to protect every girl’s chance for an education, and that you’ll continue to support WISER as we work to do just that!

Students draw their vision to prevent pregnancy
Students draw their vision to prevent pregnancy
Lucy just before beginning her exam (2016)
Lucy just before beginning her exam (2016)

One year ago, we shared this photo with you, our friends on GlobalGiving.

We told you that the girl in this photo, Lucy, had just begun her national exams. We let you know that the exam could determine Lucy’s future, and yet, she was ready to face this challenge unafraid.  

One year later, that future has arrived for Lucy!

This month, Lucy enrolled at South Eastern Kenya University where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education. After years of hard work and losing a parent to disease, Lucy earned a scholarship in recognition of her stellar exam scores.

WISER helped Lucy feel empowered and Lucy used her power to become a success story.

What Lucy has done is inspiring – she has come from a community with nearly no history of female success and she’s overcome the odds. She is healthy, successful, and driven. Perhaps, most importantly, she is an example.

Today marks the start of the 2017 exam period and another class of WISER girls will be walking into their exam halls. They, too, face the challenge unafraid.

Why? Because they are WISER girls. Because they have been given the tools they need to thrive. They know that they can do great things. They have a world of supporters at their backs.

And they’ve seen girls like Lucy blaze a path before them.

This is the story that you make possible by supporting WISER. You help create success stories, like Lucy’s, that are inspiring not only to us, but to the WISER girls themselves. You build a world where girls look around them and see evidence that girls can do incredible things.  Through WISER, you give girls the opportunities, tools, and resources they need to create successful futures.

For every Lucy, there are hundreds of girls that will follow in her footsteps. That’s what you help WISER do – you build a future where girls are healthy, educated, and ready to inspire.

Susan (pictured) will take her exam this month
Susan (pictured) will take her exam this month

To our generous GlobalGiving Donors,

This month, we’re excited to share a story with you: a story about a girl who, like many WISER girls, is ready to battle the odds on the way to a bright future. Her name is Lucy and she’s quickly becoming a vocal leader in her second year at WISER.

Lucy saw an opportunity when she came to the WISER Girls Secondary School almost two years ago. Her mother was working tirelessly to raise six children alone and Lucy would be the first of those children to have the chance to finish high school. She knew that other girls in her village were facing challenges that she hoped to avoid by joining WISER: “At times, you find someone that has dropped out of school because of school fees, because of getting pregnant, and then she just stays at home.”

But WISER is an opportunity for Lucy to avoid that story and to craft her own. And, like all WISER girls, Lucy was ready to seize this chance. “I was so proud and very happy to come to WISER,” says Lucy, “I think I can do well here.”

Lucy has done well. In fact, she already has high aspirations for her future and hopes to one day be a neurosurgeon. When asked why, Lucy points to her love of sports. She wants to play sports throughout her schooling and thinks that, through sports, she can better understand her body, which would make her a better doctor.

“In medicine, we study our own human body,” Lucy says, “and once you know how your own body is, you can help other people to live a better life.”

We love Lucy’s confidence and when asked about where this confidence comes from, she says she believes it’s from one of the programs that you all, as donors, make possible – WISER’s on-campus counselling and psychosocial support.

 “I’m receiving guidance and counselling, and that makes me feel like I can stand up and talk to somebody like this. I feel empowered.”

Lucy feels like she can take on anything – that she’s ready to stand. We know that she’s going to do amazing things. She will be a role model for her siblings and a powerful supporter for her family. She will graduate from WISER and go on to university. And she will do these things because of your support. Your gifts help us work with girls like Lucy to build success stories every day.

Just like Lucy is happy to stand for herself, we’re happy that you stand with us.

Lucy in her room at WISER
Lucy in her room at WISER
Lucy playing sports
Lucy playing sports
WISER girls at work in one of our science labs
WISER girls at work in one of our science labs

Nimone, one of WISER’s most recent alumni, is tired of hearing that girls can’t succeed in the fields of science and engineering.

Her whole life, Nimone has been told that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are subjects for boys. Now, she’s drawing the line.

Nimone is currently working as a teaching intern at a school where she is the only female teacher. She is also the lead teacher for physics at the school, and she has this message for her peers at WISER that want to pursue a career in STEM:

“Don’t listen to people that tell you that science is hard, that science is just for men, that science isn’t for you…Don’t stop working. You deserve to study your passion!”

Nimone is one of many STEM-based success stories to emerge in 2017, and an incredible example of the culture of excellence surrounding STEM on WISER’s campus.

Only one month ago, WISER girls competed in the Migori County Science and Engineering Fair against 360 eligible schools. Despite the tough competition, an incredible eight projects were chosen from WISER to proceed to Kenya Regional-level competition. WISER was ranked as the #1 Girls School in Migori and the #3 school overall, making a powerful statement about the ability of young women in STEM.

Dorcas Oyugi, WISER’s principal, links some of this mind-boggling success in STEM competitions to the resources that WISER has recently provided for its girls.

“The new science lab has given space to expose our girls to real applications of science. We have full dissemination of knowledge from our practicals for every science subject. The new computer lab means that over the next year, the girls will know everything from basic computing and data collection to photo editing and data analysis.”

These successes are more than just results to celebrate – they are signs of a shift in what people believe girls can do. Girls can win engineering competitions. Girls can lead Physics departments. Girls can excel in computing and data collection.

We know these things because we see them happening every day on our campus and in our community.

This summer, students from Duke University will give WISER’s STEM opportunities yet another exciting boost. Over the course of two months, Duke volunteers will offer a robotics workshop that includes an introduction to basic computer programming as well as hands-on exercises for WISER’s engineering and innovation club.

WISER is committed to continuing to grow its STEM opportunities for girls in Muhuru Bay. We believe that every girl, as Nimone says it, “deserves to study her passion.” And STEM success for WISER means building opportunities that would make Nimone proud.

Thank you for being a part of building those opportunities for Nimone, her classmates, and the girls that will learn at WISER for generations to come.

Principal Dorcas celebrates WISER
Principal Dorcas celebrates WISER's STEM Fair win
WISER alum Nimone
WISER alum Nimone


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

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Organization Information

WISER International

Location: Durham, NC - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Sherryl Broverman
Durham, NC United States
$222,664 raised of $300,000 goal
3,338 donations
$77,336 to go
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