I had the most delightful meeting just two weeks ago, on Saturday afternoon (October 15th in Nairobi) with two young women who are now attending the University of Nairobi: Vera and Wilkista . Being 20 and 21 years old respectively, they were so respectful and each had such poise and confidence – it was very impressive. As we were talking, I could see in their eyes that they were full of anticipation and hope for the future. Vera is studying economics and would like to be an auditor, with a desire to set public policy one day. Wilkista is studying meteorology, and would like to apply that knowledge in the area of green/sustainable fuels perhaps with a focus in the field of aviation. What dreams! Just great!
Now, let me share a little bit of their backgrounds: both Vera and Wilkista grew up very poor. Both grew up without the benefit of parents. With no real role models and seeing only poverty and despair and without anyone to provide the embrace of a loving a mother, life could have turned out so differently for them. However, each worked hard and stayed in school. Secondary education was made available to them through a charitable organization. In 2006, while in their second year of secondary school, Vera and Wilkista were presented with the opportunity to become part of the Global Give Back Circle program in Kenya (www.globalgivebackcircle.org). Today, both young women credit the mentoring they received and continue to receive as the number one factor in helping them get to where they are today. The exposure to these mentors helped them see the possibilities that exist and held them accountable to the studies necessary to fulfill on their dreams. The Global Give Back Circle program requires the participants to give back to their communities. While this is a requirement, both young ladies do it willingly, from their hearts, out of gratitude for what opportunities they’ve been given. I also learned during our conversation that in Kenya, there is a period of time between secondary school and the time a young adult can attend university – often it is a year or two. So, Microsoft and the Global Give Back Circle have partnered to provide technology skills by participating in a 9-month ICT Lab.
How does this factor in to the Kenya Vulnerable Girls Education Project we’re working on? My conversations with World Vision Kenya have shown me that they are exceptionally interested in how they develop mentors and role models for the girls at St. Elizabeth Secondary School for Girls as well as other schools as part of their long-term, sustainable approach. As of this writing and while on this trip to Kenya, I have just introduced World Vision to the Global Give Back Circle and I’m hopeful that a partnership can be made. But I provide this post more as an encouragement to you, to show real proof that educating girls in marginalized situations works and allows girls to both dream, and realize those dreams. Key ingredients include mentoring, life skills coaching, and tuition assistance. If you would like to learn more about the Global Give Back Circle, please visit their web site at www.globalgivebackcircle.org. There you will learn not only about this wonderful organization, but also about the partnership they have with Microsoft Kenya as part of the Clinton Global Initiative commitment : http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoftupblog/archive/2010/09/22/cgi-guest-post-helping-girls-in-kenya-to-give-back.aspx as well as their partnership with USAID.