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Girls in Rural Kenya Get That Much-Needed Inspiration!

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    A REPORT ON THE TRIP TO UGUNJA This took place between 30th March 2012 and 2nd April 2012. At first I can say this way the longest road trip I have ever had (9 hours) to Ugunja. We left Nairobi at 8.00 pm and arrived at 5.30 am in the morning. On arrival we had to wait for another 30 minutes for the arranged transport to arrive, then another 30 minutes to arrive at our arranged accommodation at Ukwala. I was too tired and had to take a one hour nap so that I can start my day....

    We aimed at visiting four schools for the 2 days we were there. That is Lifunga Girls Secondary School, Ukwala Primary School, Ndenga Mixed Secondary School and Sega Girls Secondary School.

    Our first school was Lifunga Girls Secondary School. The girls looked prepared for the talk because the minute we started preparing ourselves, they were all settled and ready to listen to what we had to say. My topic for the trip was about goal setting which I had prepared myself for. I noted that I was something they really needed to know. Some of them were not confident that they would make it to the university; they will get married after school. I encouraged them to set goals in life and work harder. I also noted that the major issue facing the girls in this school is early pregnancies and multiple partners in relationships. During the Q&A session one of the girls wanted to talk in private, she informed me that she was having problems with her studies since she had to walk 4km daily to school and also has to do house chores for her siblings when she gets back home and yet all wanted to study. I encouraged her to manage her time well while in school since she made it clear that she didn’t have time to study at home. I also gave her my personal number to reach me if she needed more advice.

    Kate interacting with the students from Lifunga Girls Secondary School.

    Later we moved to Ukwala Primary School. Being a catholic primary school, the level of discipline was high. The audience we were addressing to was class 6, 7 and 8 students. I proceeded on with my topic as fast as possible and made the girls get the message. We were short on time but we managed to deliver what we had prepared for them. There was no Q&A in their session because of time. The headmistress and the teacher were so grateful of what we inspired the pupils. We later on went to the headmistress office since she had prepared sodas for us. As we talked with the headmistress she made us aware of the major problems that the pupils were facing; early sexual engagement being tricked by the motorbike riders. I felt this was a big (major issue) considering these pupils were in primary school. I felt it would have been better if we had been made aware of it before the talk so that we could point it out to the girls, but since we came in a hurry and with the limited time we were not able to. Mercury took down those problems and she promise to come back. We left the school to our residence and called it a day.

    The students pay attention to Kate as she speaks to them

    Sunday, 1st April 2012, we were scheduled to start at Ndenga Mixed Secondary School. Unluckily, the transport that was meant to pick us up delayed for almost 2 hours. Later Linah’s friend managed to get us there. Unfortunately the students had gone for the Palm Sunday mass. We did not get a chance to talk to them.

    We proceeded on to Sega Girls High School. We arrived quite early since the students were still doing their studies. We were received with a warm welcome from the teachers. Shortly the students were requested to go for lunch, so that they could settle first and we start on time. The students looked eager to hear what we had for then. I have to confess this was my favorite school throughout the visit. They were fascinated by the fact that I was a software engineer. They enjoyed what I had for them. My topic really inspired them since earlier we were informed that one of the major challenges the girls faced is lack of self-motivation to study and I think what I addressed them helped. The whole session was jovial because there was a great interaction between the ambassadors and the students.

    Ambassadors from iGlow- Girls Leading Our World initiative- interact with the students

    Then came the Q&A session, the girls were full of questions that we advised them to write them down and we can categorize and respond to them. There were almost 300 questions in those small pieces of paper. We categorized them according to the topics and the ambassador associated with the topic. A third of the questions seemed to be academic related and the study habits from the girls. Since the topic was not discussed in the meeting, I decided to give a summary of it through and a further consulting in case there are more questions. Since time was not on our side, we had to wind up and those who had personal questions were free to ask. This session afterwards was AWESOME. Most of the questions were about careers. I noted that most of them were interested in being journalist, lawyers and a few of them in computer engineering. There was interest in computer courses since they had computer studies in their curriculum. I encouraged them to have their goals set right and be disciplined in their study habits.

    The students line up for a photo after a motivational session! Hopefully, the next generation of women in IT in Kenya will include some from this group!

    By Kate Chuaga, President, D4T

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