Education  Kenya Project #19783

Empower and Educate WISER girls in rural Kenya

by WISER International Vetted since 2015 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit

If you were to walk onto WISER's campus on a typical weekday afternoon, you might see groups of students scattered around the school's main field. Seated in tight circles, girls come together with their peers to discuss difficult community issues. And at the helm of each circle? A young woman, a peer counselor, ready to lead the way. 

Youth leadership is more alive and thriving at WISER right now than it has ever been. In just the past six months:

  • WISER girls have led sexual and reproductive health workshops for hundreds of youth in Muhuru Bay
  • Girls are taking on peer-elected positions on campus ranging from "minister of dorm life" to student body president
  • A team of peer counselors is tackling major community challenges through weekly psychosocial support sessions 
  • Young WISER alumni returned to campus for our first-ever reunion to mentor and inspire their peers
  • Three girls have already been invited to attend the East African Girls Leadership Summit later this year

Putting youth in charge allows them to develop leadership skills, grow their self-confidence, and to put their expertise into practice as they address community issues. And growing and learning in this enviroment at WISER has incredible effects on young women. Take it from WISER alumna Mercy, who said recently, "I cant explain in words how much WISER has impacted my life. It made me believe in myself. It taught me to move through the world. WISER made that happen." 

We believe that kind of transformative impact for youth is worth celebrating - and we hope you do, too.

That's why we're excited to invite you to join WISER for GlobalGiving's Youth Week Campaign. This week, when you make a gift of any size to empower youth through WISER, you can help us earn access to thousands of dollars in bonus prizes. Plus, when you sign up for a monthly gift, your donation will be matched 100%! 

All you have to do is visit WISER's GlobalGiving page at the link below and help us celebrate the power of youth leadership by making a gift:

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-and-educate-wiser-girls-in-kenya/

When girls like Mercy and her peers are empowered as youth leaders, incredible change can happen. But opportunities to empower youth are only possible through your support. Thank you for believing, as we do at WISER, that youth leadership deserves to be supported and celebrated! 

Links:

Josephine leads an SRH workshop for younger girls
Josephine leads an SRH workshop for younger girls

Earlier this year, we shared that the WISER girls had made it their mission to reduce early pregnancy in their community through sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education. We’re excited to say that in just the first six months of 2018, WISER girls have already reached more youth through SRH outreach than in all of last year! Way to go, girls!

WISER girl-led SRH outreach remains our fastest-growing program, as WISER girls take initiative and lead workshops with students in local schools, community members in local churches, and with their own families in their villages.

When girls act as SRH leaders, they are doing more than sharing critical health information; they are serving as role models and powerfully demonstrating that girls have the potential to solve community problems.

As WISER’s guidance and counselling leader, Nipher Okemwa, says, "When you see the WISER girls leading SRH, it's so inspiring to youth in the community. They see someone who is a leader, but also their peer -- that is someone who understands the challenges of Muhuru Bay and knows how to address them."

WISER’s girl-led SRH education sessions have already reached over 1,000 youth in 2018, and the WISER girls are just getting started as they continue to reach more youth across Muhuru Bay and beyond.

We’ll be celebrating the WISER girls’ impact and the incredible power of youth leadership during GlobalGiving’s Youth Week from August 6th to 12th. We hope you’ll join us by contributing to WISER and creating more opportunities like these for girls to lead change.

Thank you for making these stories of impact possible. We’re grateful to have you in the Global WISER Family, and we hope you’ll continue to champion the WISER girls during the fast-approaching Youth Week Campaign!

Debora proudly leads SRH outreach in a church
Debora proudly leads SRH outreach in a church

Just two weeks ago, all 32 of WISER’s senior class girls traveled to Nairobi, many for the first time. They weren’t just in Nairobi for a field trip (though they loved seeing museums and exploring the big city!) -- the WISER girls were there for a week-long computer programming bootcamp with AkiraChix, an NGO that aims to inspire and develop a successful force of women in technology who will change Africa’s future.

For years, Nairobi has been a hub of innovation and technology in Africa. But girls in rural communities like Muhuru Bay rarely have access to the unique opportunities and ideas these hubs spark. That changed last month when WISER girls took a deep dive into computer programming, graphic design, and robotics through the AkiraChix bootcamp.

WISER girls practiced hands-on problem-solving and design thinking, applying new knowledge to design creative technological solutions to solve local challenges. Girls presented their innovative ideas at the end of the week: a vented space heater for small homes, a pothole repair device, a chimney-based stove to reduce respiratory disease, a saltwater battery lamp, and more.

The WISER girls were thrilled with their experience, and the AkiraChix team left feeling inspired as well. Linda Kamau, Founder of AkiraChix, said, “The AkiraChix team had a great time seeing them excited about technology and the opportunities available.”

After a week of creative problem-solving, WISER girls attended the Geek Girl Festival (#GGFest18), which brought together hundreds of girls from high schools across Kenya to introduce them to career opportunities in tech, expose them to women working in the tech industry, and provide leadership and mentorship.

Why is this so special? In Muhuru Bay, there are no role models of women in STEM outside of WISER’s campus. Being able to connect with dozens of Kenyan women programmers, app developers, and computer engineers was a unique and inspiring opportunity for our senior students as they consider their education and career steps after WISER.

Thank you for creating opportunities for WISER girls to meet role models, to be exposed to a larger world, to envision new futures, and ultimately, to become role models for younger girls in Muhuru Bay and across Kenya. As one WISER senior wrote recently, “as a girl, I am the key to all solutions.” Thank you for believing, as we do, that WISER girls are the key to solving challenges in their communities and around the world.

                                                         --

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
 

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Organization Information

WISER International

Location: Durham, NC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.wisergirls.org
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WISER_Intl
Project Leader:
Sherryl Broverman
Durham, NC United States
$238,947 raised of $300,000 goal
 
3,513 donations
$61,053 to go
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