When end of term exams ended on Thursday, November 14th, first, second, and third year students left campus for school break before the new 2014 school year begins in January. That is, except for three soon-to-be fourth year students, Moreen Kajuju, Mary S, and Mesret, who stayed behind to participate in a Youth Forum for a few days.

The Youth Forum was presented by Action Aid Denmark, an organization that shares a portion of Daraja’s campus for their activities. Action Aid is a global youth network involving thousands of local and Danish volunteers and located in more than 25 countries. Youth Forum’s are organized each month to involve local youth and promote open discussion, innovative thinking, and global partnership with rotating topics.

November’s Youth Forum topic was Gender and Health, and featured collaboration style activities where local Nanyuki Kenyans, Daraja students, and volunteers from Denmark worked together to learn about topics such as the difference between sex and gender, defying gender roles, and how gender can stigmatize health issues.

In the first activity, groups were asked to illustrate differences between men and women by drawing what they think men and women look and act like. In her group, Moreen Kajuju was vocal and excited to share her experiences with the differences between genders in Kenya. Without hesitation, she became the spokesperson for the group when sharing what they’d discussed with the other groups.

A major part of the day’s activities revolved around a session called “Forum Theatre.” In forum theatre, both actors and spectators play a crucial role. During scenes, spectators engage in discussion about what they are seeing and can even stop and change the performance to see better outcomes. The Daraja girls were not afraid to participate in this activity and valued the different approach to drama and acting.

Moreen Kajuju reflected, “It was really cool to combine what we were learning with acting. I got to learn a lot about discussion and how to talk about sensitive topics. Lots of people disagreed, but in a good way. It was very interesting.”

The workshop ran from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and the girls returned from the event feeling excited and thankful for the opportunity to participate.

Mesret explained, “I learned a lot and made a lot of new friends. It was a fun time sharing stories and discussing how different our experiences are.”

Mary S. agreed, continuing, “I am glad that I was able to go to the forum. I learned new things that I never thought about before.”

Daraja graduates are also involved with the Youth Forum. Lilian, who lives in Nanyuki, was also able to attend the forum. This was the third forum and topic that she has been able to participate in, and explains that she “really likes going to them and learning each time.” Monicah, who will be attending University of Nairobi in January, has spent the past few months volunteering as a facilitator for Action Aid, especially at the Youth