February 10, 2016

Precious Spots

The rain started as soon as we were ready to begin. The small room off the hotel courtyard turned dark and uninviting, but everyone agreed that the rain was a good omen. I was sitting with the administrative staff of Daraja about to start a round of student section interviews. There were thirteen girls and their families waiting to be interviewed for a chance to change their lives.

It felt daunting to be part of such a process. I felt honoured and humbled to be present, but also a bit guilty. What gave me the right to choose who gets in and who has to find another way to build a future.

The girls were fourteen most of them and they were all scared and nervous. But they reacted to this fear in different ways. One was painful shy and quiet, her voice inaudible over the sound of the rain. I knew from talking with Jason that a “Daraja” girl showed confidence and signs of leadership before she even walked onto the campus. This girl, we all knew from the opening few moments didn’t have much of a chance. How could she when there were hundreds, thousands of girls through Kenya vying for the few precious spots.

The next one was loud and full of smiles, but broke down in tears when she spoke of her father leaving the family and how her mother could only find “casual” work digging on other people’s farms. When asked what it means to be a leader she said, “A leader serves other people and allows them to be the people they are meant to be.” I liked her a lot, but there would still need to be stiff conversation about what she was more deserving than the other eleven girls waiting outside.

I thought a lot of the cycle of poverty and the state of the “developing” world. I thought about how a man could have a family and abandon them to fend for themselves in a society he knew does not value women. I thought about how angry I often am at injustice, but also at my own hypocritical self-righteousness. Who am I to judge these men? What do I knew of their own fears and damage?

I was due back at Daraja to meet up with my students, so I left the rest of the interviews for the rest of the team.

So bummed I had two more entries on this post, but they didn't get saved and the document I was working on shut down.

We are off to Safari, so the next entry may be delayed. 

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