Education is the single most effective way to end the cycle of poverty and yet in many parts of the country and indeed the world girls do not have access to education. And for those that do, an alarming number do not understand the value and power that education has in changing the course of their lives. Indeed this is the case in Nandi County, where a good number of young people end up dropping out of school.
Akili Dada Gap Year Intern Cynthia Muhonja has initiated a project called Life Lifters that aims at changing the attitude of young people in this community towards education. Through mentorship forums, Cynthia brings role models from within and outside her community who share their personal journeys to success and specifically the role that education has played in getting them to where they are now.
“I was inspired to initiate Life Lifters during my December holidays after graduating from highschool. I was working as a volunteer for a month in one of the dispensaries in our region called Emilio health Centre where I had a chance to interact with many people from my community. While at the health Centre I met Faustine who was my classmate in primary school. Faustine had just had her firstborn baby. Though I helped her I really felt bad that one of my former classmates was now a mother at 17 years of age – she should have been in school, learning and building the foundation for her future.” Says Cynthia.
That particular experience inspired Cynthia to take action and change the lives of other young girls before they too walked the path that Faustine did. “Through this project I bring role models from my community, other parts of Kenya and neighboring countries to talk to the young people, using their personal stories on the role of education plays in shaping their lives. It is my hope that with live examples of success, the young people in my community would be inspired to continue in their pursuit of education.” Says Cynthia
Through Life Lifters, Cynthia hopes the imaginations and ambitions of young people in Nandi will not be limited negative examples such as girls becoming teenage mothers or boys dropping out to be motorbike riders but that they would be exposed to positive role models they can emulate. “We do not have lawyers, doctors or even other successful professionals in the region and the few who are there dwell in big towns like Nairobi, only coming home during holidays. It's our mission as Life lifters to change this story and create a new society that has people who succeed in education so that a small child who is growing up in this region can look up to them and feel encouraged to go to school.” Says Cynthia.
Indeed on the 18th of July we had the pleasure of attending and facilitating a session with Life Lifters in Kimemei Nandi County, where we engaged with high school girls in the region. Akili Dada Alumnae and Pace Kenya Volunteers had one on one mentoring opportunities with the girls, where the girls had a safe space to share the challenges they face, share their dreams and aspirations and have mentors who have walked their path share practical strategies to help the girls stay focused on achieving their goals and dreams.
We also screened She Matters a film that showcases girls and young women who have overcome significant challenges from across the world to become leaders and change agents in their communities.