JANET & TERESIAH

What was your dream?

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On a rainy, chilly day in June, a group of KEF staff members headed to rural Mt. Kinangop Girls' Secondary School, two hours outside Nairobi to conduct in-person interviews.

Upon arrival, we sat in a small, damp room waiting for the Vice Principal to bring in five bright and needy girls. As this was a surprise visit, there was a lot of scrambling to find each girl scattered across the lush green campus. There was little time for them to prepare, they only knew that this meeting could change their life. 

In identical sapphire uniforms, each girl shuffled in and mumbled greetings. Shying from eye contact, they sat down in the rusty red chair provided.

There was a girl who wore a handkerchief in her hair and held her body loosely. As if her spine had not yet decided if it wanted to accept her teenage growth spurt. She spoke in whispers with tears streaming from her eyes. There was another girl who had twelve siblings, her parents struggling to feed them all. Another had been sent home for the majority of the current term due to lack of school fees and yet had managed to score well on her exams. Each of the five girls had been sent home from school multiple times for lack of payment. Each had top marks.

Teresiah was polite and contained. She calmly told us her story. She had a twin sister in Form 4 (12th Grade). We asked how could they be four years a part in school? Her eyes began to glisten as she waited for us to fill in the dots. Their parents had not had the money to send both girls to high school at the same time, so Teresiah had stayed back, four times, repeating 6th grade. 

Janet held her head high. She looked at each of us as we spoke, lightly kicking the leg of her chair. Without shame, she told us her mother was a bartender, out late most nights. There was no father, just the two of them. She knew exactly how much her mother earned per month and exactly how much each of their bills cost. In her, we saw a steady determination. 

At the end of each interview, we asked the girls if they had anything they would like to ask us. Most students are demure. But Janet and Teresiah spoke up and asked the exactly same question.

"When you were like us, what was your dream?" 

This struck us as bold. These girls had just stood vulnerable asking for our help and yet they were inquisitive enough, confident enough, to take this opportunity to learn our stories. How had we achieved success? What insights could we offer them to arrive there as well?

Janet and Teresiah received a scholarship that day. Help us provide more life changing gifts to girls like Janet and Teresiah.

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BY KRISTINA APGAR