With Peter, conference organizer, and guest speaker Rene Cook, founder of Every Girl Counts.
Good morning from Kenya. (Habari!) Yesterday I witnessed that hope and love and the human spirit will not be crushed.
Teenage girls are teenage girls no matter where they live in the world. They could be living in poverty, in a slum the size of Central Park, but they still giggle, dream, and worry about things like peer pressure. They still love to dance with their friends and squeal when they watch their favorite boy dance group perform.
Some of the Kibera teenage girls at yesterday’s conference. They wear their school clothes because they do not own any other clothes.
Rene Cook, my friend founder of Every Girls Counts, and I were honored to be guests yesterday at an amazing conference for teenage girls from the Kibera slum. The Jitambue program, funded by Passion Partners, was started a decade ago by Swahiba Youth Networks in only one high school reaching just 11 girls. The program curriculum emphasizes positive reproductive health and self-worth and has grown today to impact more than 700 girls at 13 schools in the slum. The conference was held on the grounds of a church just within Kibera, where around one million people live in extreme poverty the likes of which most of us will never witness. 90 percent of the girls in the project live in single-parent households. Many of them have lost a parent to HIV or AIDS. None of them have lost hope.
Rene, founder of Every Girl Counts, offers encouragement to the girls about how to make a difference in the world around them. We will be making a site visit to the location where her organization is building a school that will eventually reach 130 girls in the Kibera slum.
Some words of wisdom from Pastor Grace, one of today’s speakers, that really touched me.
“God has invested so much in your life. You’re not a product of Kibera. Kibera might be your birthplace, but it is not your destination.”
We saw and heard so many inspiring stories yesterday. It was incredible. There was a lot said during the conference in Swahili that I didn’t understand, but I still knew what was being said. Does that even make sense?
I’m jetlagged, but energized ya’ll.
Here are some more pictures from yesterday.
One of the high school girls enjoying the entertainment during conference breaks.
I couldn’t resist taking this sweet little girl’s picture. She was hanging around at the end of the conference when we were taking group photos.
Small group discussion at lunch. The girls talked about issues of purity and peer pressure. And yes I had one of those Coca-Colas in a glass bottle!