Hear Mercy's story, told to us directly from Kenya by Ashley and Sarah, our Field Interns:
Just this week, we had the opportunity to visit the home of Mercy, a seventh grader at Kawino Primary School. Mercy is a total orphan, and one of six children who live with their grandmother. When we visited, we were warmly received with tea and avocados from the tree outside the family home. Mercy’s grandmother sells avocados to help provide for her grandchildren, and she expressed her gratitude for the maize and beans provided to the family from the Umoja Project.
Mercy is a good student, and when we asked her what she wants to be when she grows up, she said she wants to work for the Umoja Project—she wants to go all the way through school and then help others do the same. When we asked her to describe herself in a word, Mercy said, “honest.” She helps at home to care for her younger siblings.
Mercy is one of 19 girls from Kawino who regularly attend GET UP sessions at a nearby school. These girls meet on Saturday mornings to be mentored and taught by local female leaders. They receive snacks, sing songs, and most importantly learn about their rights as girls to be safe and pursue their dreams. The Link Teacher at Kawino Primary spoke about the impact of the GET UP program on the school, saying that now girls were becoming top performers in their classes, and the rate of drop out from pregnancy has been drastically reduced from an average of 6-7 a year to only the occasional drop out. When we met with the GET UP girls at Kawino, we talked together about how girls can succeed and be independent, just like boys. The girls spoke about the strengths and gifts they saw in themselves.
We are excited to see Mercy step into her 8th grade year! Her hope is to receive high enough marks to continue on to secondary school, and eventually to be able to help her family and community. The support she receives from Umoja—daily lunch at school, a uniform, and food for her family at home—is helping her to chase down these dreams.
Mercy and her family
GET UP girls at Kawino Primary School