Kenya Self-Help Project 
Strategic Partnerships in Education & Community Development March 2009
From Kenya
Girls Rule!
Scholarships at Work
Lennox's Story
Closing notes . . .
Quick Links
Quick Links
 
Greetings!
 
topWe've had a burst of activity this month.  Girls Clubs and 'pilot' schools are sprouting up throughout Kendu Bay thanks to Mrs. O and volunteer, Kate Connell, who joins our Girls' Empowerment program for her senior project at Prescott College, AZ.  Read more in Girls Rule! 
 
Our Scholarship program gained SEVEN new sponsorships this year.  New students began their high school studies in February.  Selected from more than 50 applicants, the group represents the strongest and most deserving of this year's Grade 8 graduates. 

Individual KSHP sponsors now support 64 Kendu Bay students in grades 9-12.
In this issue, we profile two continuing students, who represent those being served by your scholarships. Learn more at Your Scholarships at Work
 
An un-sponsored orphaned student "left behind" sparked community spirit and generated a new scholarship.  Families came together and pooled funds to give the boy a 1-year community scholarship.  Read more in Lennox's Story.
 
Our work is small compared to the might of international organizations, but to those whose lives are touched here, we are everything.  Thank you for joining us.
 
Sincerely,
Kathleen Dodge, Executive Director
 
  Girls Rule!     playground
 
 
Twenty-four year old Kate Connell from Underhill, Vermont is spending two months in Kendu Bay as a dedicated Girls' Empowerment volunteer. Kate has turned her winter term at Prescott College into a hands-on apprenticeship.
 
Kate's background in human development and women's studies has greatly supported the development of our emerging Partner School model.  To better assess the impact of our Girls Empowerment services, four pilot schools have been identified to serve as our Girls Program 'laboratories' this year.  
 
The team's goal is to document and quantify to how a devoted girl child program affects girls' academic achievement, school attendance, dropout and pregnancy rates.  In a Before & After study, we will examine the changes brought about by our program services of weekly school visits, minimun intervention [sanitary pads & improved latrines] and Girls Clubs social education.
 
Retaining girls in school expands their life options as adults and improves income potential.  Statistics gathered from our pilot schools will help us identify "best practices" and lay the groundwork for future development and grant proposals.
 
Kate and Mrs. O continue traveling throughout the region visiting all 23 primary schools in Kendu Bay zone - by moped, matatu, bus and on foot - launching new Girls Clubs wherever they go and giving girls a vision of our future plans for the Girls' Empowerment program.  
 
                 lilian
 
 Your Scholarships
                  at Work

 
 
Lilian Ochieng Adoyo is fifteen years old. She has lost her father and her mother sells vegetables at a local market. Lilian is a straight-A student. Her outstanding performance on Kenya's national examinations (KCPE) qualified her for admission to Alliance Girls High School last year. This high-ranking school, founded during colonial government years, is considered among the best schools in the country. Daughters of Kenya's prominent leaders still attend this school.  
 
Lilian could not return to school this year for lack of school fees.  She could not even raise bus fare to Kikuyu, where the school is located.  Our program director drove her back to school, where she began her sophomore year, thanks to the sponsorships of Deborah Tarrant, Hillsboro Beach, FL and members of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, MD. 
 
 
james
James Elijah Otieno's family is destitute and he has worked at odd jobs since grade eight to save for his school fees.  At eighteen, he has just completed his Form One, or freshman year, at a regional day school. 

James's parents are poor subsistence farmers.  The father is crippled and the mother is asthmatic.  James is the fourth born in a family of five children.  His older brother is a hawker peddling small items along the road.
 
At Kisumu Day School, James ranked 12th out of 251 students in his class last year; the top 5% of his class.  
 
James's family seriously struggled to pay his daily commute & midday meal in addition to the day school fees.  This year, thanks to his sponsor, Kathleen Mulcahey, La Habra Heights, CA, and Flintridge Prep School, La Ca´┐Żada, Class of 2011, James now studies at a strong provincial boarding school and his family is able to better provide for the remaining children still at home.
 
The Interview:
Lennox's Story  
                            
Written by Kate Connell
KSHP Girls' Empowerment volunteer
                                      lennox
 
MY HEART stood still the moment Lennox walked into the room.  Even a person barren of all sensitivities and intuition could have felt the weight of this young boy's soul filling the air around them.  As he sat before us and we attempted to proceed with the interview process, Lennox's head remained bowed low.  The words we expected to flow from his mouth never came.  A few grumbles, nothing more.   
 
That day, January 28, was a new scholarship interview day for KSHP.  We had a lineup of nine students waiting for a chance to impress upon us, the committee, why he or she should receive the scholarship.  We could select only six of these nine, who had been short-listed from the original 50-60 applicants. 
 
Their selection was based solely upon their performance on the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) for Standard 8th.  In other words, these nine grade 8 students, three girls and five boys, had been picked for our KSHP/ Nyashep Education Trust interview because they had achieved the highest results on the national exam that is required for a student's transition from Primary to Secondary School.  Therefore, we knew that Lennox had to be an exceptionally bright student.  But why wouldn't he answer our questions?
 
When Lennox stepped out of the room with Mrs. Opondo to try and recoup himself, the rest of the committee and I began to examine more closely his application.  We noticed, stapled to the back of the document's official forms, a handwritten section that contained additional information that Lennox apparently wanted us to know.  It was written in very good English, addressed from Lennox to the committee.  There within that letter, Lennox explained to us as tactfully as possible about a specific detail of his history.  In his words, Lennox had been born "on the wrong side of the blanket".  The other committee members immediately knew this to mean that Lennox had been born out of wedlock.  He did not know his father.  Lennox's mother had died when he was very small.  He was now living with his peasant farming grandparents. 
 
As soon as this realization hit, we all knew why Lennox could not lift his head.  We knew why Lennox felt so heavy.  Lennox considered himself an illegitimate human being. When he re-entered the room, we acknowledged to Lennox that we knew his situation.  Peter Liech tenderly urged him that there was no such thing as an illegitimate human. Lennox's spirits were lifted a bit, and we were able to follow through with some of the interview questions.  When the day was over, the committee took some special time to go over Lennox's case.  We all decided that we had to help Lennox.  Personally, my heart was so wrecked after interacting with this boy, the idea of going forward without doing anything was just not an option.
 
We had to be creative, though.  Since Lennox was not given an official interview score and we had already selected the top six based on this number, we needed to come up with a different way to help Lennox.  We had to find a way to send Lennox to school outside of the traditional sponsorship.  Kenya Self-Help Project is intended as a community partnership.  The true meaning of partnership, and the power that resides within a community came through in our solution.
           
We alerted Lennox that same day that he had received a scholarship.  Then, a few days later when we met at the office with the lucky children and their parents, we pulled the parents aside to address Lennox's situation.  We were able to convince the people to pull together their resources and collectively pay for Lennox's first year at the Secondary School of his choice!  Even I contributed, supplying the funds that would buy his uniform.  The families were united in their commitment to help, and the warmth and generosity generated at that meeting was enough to heal those wounds I had suffered upon initially learning of the tragedy that was Lennox's.
           
Last week, Mrs. Opondo and I went to visit Lennox at his home.  The boy I met that day was a very different Lennox than the one I saw at the interview.  His head was held high; he was laughing.  Lennox was full of life.  Though still rather shy, especially with me, the mzungu, it was obvious how this boy's life had been dramatically altered for the better by the experiment that is KSHP. 
 
Lennox is now a student at Agoro Sare High School. We 
hope that he does very well this year so that in 2010 he will qualify for a full KSHP scholarship position!
 
 
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Closing notes . . .
 
"Last year (2008) I tried my best and I manage to become number 1 out of 60 students in our stream.  Overall, I was number 3 out of 172 students.  In accordance to this good result, I got the following awards during my school's closing day assembly: a single-ruled exercise book for being the best girl in our stream, a pen for being the best in History, a packet of washing powder for being third best overall and, lastly, a packet of toothpaste as a present from our principal.  I thought the whole world was mine that day." 
 
Millicent Onyango, age 19
Senior Class, Oyugi Ogango Girls High School 
Sponsored by Mia Heaton, Delray Beach, FL

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