June 16th is an important day in Africa! It is the Day of the African Child and every year we celebrate along with so many other organizations serving within the continent. This year is definitely different though..... COVID-19 has put our large gatherings on hold so instead, I met one on one with a few of the girls and young women from The Angaza Project to highlight them!
Before I go any further, this day is so important because it focuses on the barriers that African children face in order to receive a quality education. Here in Kenya, both girls and boys have challenges, but historically it is more so for the girls. The Angaza Project has been supporting girls in their education journey through their Shining Scholars Sponsorship Program (High School) and their Shining Brighter Program (College or University) and I am so grateful! I happen to be one of the Shining Brighter Scholars and I have been working so very hard in the University studying Community Development and Social Work.
To help us celebrate this important day, I want you to first meet Jane Arum, 22 years old! Jane is a long term volunteer within The Angaza Project, an intern/college student who is studying Social Work and Community Development under the Diploma Program at Kabete Polytechnic University. She is working so hard in her classes which have been placed on hold due to COVID-19 so in the mean time, she continues to work with me (within Angaza Project) to keep track of the girls in girls empowerment and the Shining Scholars program. Jane has also been distributing all of the masks that we have made recently. She truly cares about her community and is a great role model for the girls in our program! Jane has been helping to manage the COVID-19 Food and Hygiene supply distributions within the community with Angaza and encourage the girls along the way. Jane is also quite talented in the arts and has spent time showing the girls how to use the art supplies and create meaningful art after the class which they really love! She also serves as a point of experience or understanding for the girls who are experiencing different challenges. Like me, Jane grew up in Kibera and understands these challenges first hand so the girls have another positive role model to turn to when needed, especially when it comes to navigating any school material challenges or even menstruation questions or issues. Often, the girls are not always feeling they can speak of it at home, so they turn to Jane as a point of non judgmental responses.
Jane helps keep the girls focused on education and also takes the time to offer tutoring in her strong areas (Math and Science) to ensure the girls keep up with the content and don't fall behind. She wants to see them reach college just like she did! She shows them it IS possible and they CAN do it and she helps the girls to set those goals.
" Education means moving a step ahead to reach career goals. It means gaining additional understanding and skills to keep contributing to my community and it means a change in my family's standard of living. I want the girls to grasp the importance of all of this and set their goals to do the same. The Girls Empowerment Program is extremely important as it boosts their self esteem, helps them find positive ways to relate to the community and it also provides sanitary pads/towels to them..... something that is a serious challenge for girls and families in general so this makes all the difference in their being able to stay healthy and attend school without that disruption so thank you! Girls Empowerment also helps the girls to see they can be great contributors to their community too!" - Jane Arum