I spent three days in New York watching and editing footage of my trip to Daraja Academy, re-living Kenya’s immense sky, hearing the sweet music of the girls’ voices speaking about their education and laughing together; it was almost like being there again. I remembered the Masaai man lying down in the tall grass, arms above his head, his herd of cattle grazing nearby. His sense of ease with life was palpable, even though last year’s drought killed so many of the Masaai’s cattle, he exuded serenity. That feeling remains with me — I know that life does not have to be a dramatic, chaotic exchange between people, but each day can hold the purpose and gracious offering of a walk towards a goal, and I cherish and accept all I am learning.
One of the many intentions of Daraja Academy is to house girls of different tribes together in the dorms so they can learn each other’s similarities and differences. It is part of the “bridge,” which is what Daraja means. Girls are from Masaai, Luhya, Kamba, Meru, Kikuyu, Kambu, Kuria, Somali, Kipsigie and Turkana tribes.
I interviewed the second year girls for the film, asking them to state a life wish. It might seem a lot to ask a girl who has just left a small village or a slum outside Nairobi to dream big, but I trusted that these bright, intelligent young women would have significant goals. And they did:
“If God wishes, I will start my own school for blind people.”
“My wish is when I am rich I’d like to help the needy — the orphan – to build for them a home as Daraja is helping me…”
“I want to be a mommy. I would like to unite all the people of my country and to teach them…to live with harmony and how they will share their things without being in corruption and fighting between them and sit as brothers and sisters.”
“I want to be a pilot because that is where I belong.”
“I wanted to be a doctor, but since hearing about the surgeries I want to be a lecturer.”
“I’m striving to be a doctor.”
“I will continue to work hard on my studies and I know that I will become an important lady in my community and also in my country, Kenya.”
In honor of these remarkable girls each setting a life wish, I include my own: to continue to journey with them, to support their educations and their dreams with all that I have.
Asante sana –