Daraja Academy in Kenya
Daraja Academy is the first free all-girls secondary school in all of East Africa. In late Feburary 2009, 26 girls from Kenya were given a chance for a secondary education which would otherwise not be possible, given their current economic situation.
The mission of the Daraja Academy is to cultivate a community of individuals with a sense of cultural awareness, social conscience, and environmental responsibility, all while instilling talents that will enable them to open doors to a global society. You can support the school and its mission. Just check out the website at: daraja-academy.org.
Educator and writer Jabiz Raisdana, whose compelling story Five Minutes is published on this website, has visited the school and has this to say about the place, its founder, and its purpose:
The first thing you notice about Daraja are the sounds: An orchestra of sound composed by hundreds of species of birds- an aviary city in perpetual movement. Behind this cacophony enters the slow odd beat of a cowbell clacking its slapdash jazz rhythm. An occasional yelp of children subduing an animal. A goat bleats. More birds, now more aggressive like trumpets. A low buzz of insects cellos drumming in the background. A rare car passing along an unseen road. An airplane, sound first, enters the sky exiting through clouds, then horizon.
Beyond this ensemble is silence. The beautiful all-encompassing silence of the Earth alone without civilization. An enduring peace punctuates the score like measures of necessary rests.
Even without the classrooms, teachers, books or curriculum, this campus is a place to reconnect with the urge to explore. A place to self-reflect and place oneself in the symphony of the Earth. A bare-boned canvas with ancient stories waiting to be investigated, rethought, and expanded. These grounds carved from the soil of the Kenyan savannah are the perfect place to begin a journey that will never end.
I had arrived at Daraja at night. In the darkness of that first night the campus appeared as nothing more than an empty space waiting to be filled with my expectations, my hopes, dreams, and goals not only for this small grassroots school, but also for Kenya, Africa, and the world itself.
After spending eight days on campus, I realized that Jason had transformed hours of our idealistic chatter and conjecture into a living breathing school. After meeting the staff and seeing how many people were involved with the success of the school–from the volunteers, to Peter Wahatu, to most importantly Jason’s amazing wife and partner, Jenni–it became obvious that there was no way that he could have done this on his own.
For an idea as simple yet ambitious as Daraja to work, people must believe in it. While the idea may have hatched through years of reverie and optimism, it was through Jason’s stubborn persistence that it became real. But now, it is bigger than him. Daraja needs every person who hears about the cause to support it with their time, their love, and their faith in the belief that educating young women is the best tool to build a more sustainable, just, and peaceful world.
It is this faith in collaboration and grassroots organizing that makes Daraja such a special place. To promote this school is to declare your support for a better world. It is to admit that a difference can be made in other people’s lives.
With this newsletter in hand, take action. Obviously Daraja would welcome a donation of any kind, but there is so much more one can do: share pictures, videos, blog posts about the school. Raise awareness for this project with as many people in your local community as possible. Remember Daraja means bridge and YOU are Daraja.