At the end of each term, Daraja girls venture to their home communities for a short break for two weeks to over a month, depending on the time of year. Comparable to summer breaks and winter holidays in the United States, the girls always look forward to seeing their families and friends during their time away from class.
Part of Daraja’s educational model includes community service, which is how students compensate for their time at Daraja. Over each break, the girls perform 10 documented hours of community service in their hometowns. Students share the knowledge and skills they have learned in class, WISH, life skills, and interactions with volunteers with their local communities.
Thanks to this initiative, Daraja can reach and serve immeasurable amounts of people. The students act as a link in a chain where knowledge is spread from Daraja to the girls, and from the girls into their communities. When asked, the girls love talking about the service they perform over their school breaks. Many girls complete their hours at the same location for all four years, while others try new things each break.
Antonella, who has just finished her first full year as a Daraja student, especially looks forward to school breaks because of the community service opportunities. She is from Baragoi, a town in Northern Kenya.
She explains, “doing community service at home is like bringing Daraja with me wherever I go. Sometimes, if I don’t have too many chores at home, I do more than ten hours, just for fun!”
For the last two breaks, Antonella has completed (and exceeded!) her hours at a local hospital. Her tasks have included washing the wards, greeting and managing patients, calling them into their rooms, and cleaning the dispensary.
Antonella has been doing community service even before she arrived at Daraja, helping her fellow primary school students as a tutor and doing chores for the elderly in her community.
“During community service, I become a better person,” Antonella reflects, “I like talking to other Daraja students about their community service because I like hearing about what their home communities are like.”
Like Antonella, many girls complete their service hours at hospitals and dispensaries. Some girls even help organize medications and tend to patients as a nurse or pharmacist shadow. Others teach in their local primary schools, tutor younger students, lead workshops to teach their communities about lessons they’ve learned at Daraja, and more.
We are glad to instill a service mentality in each Daraja girl, and graduates continue to perform community service after they leave Daraja. With 30 hours minimum completed each year by 104 total girls, the impact that Daraja is able to have on communities across Kenya is vast and inspiring.