The following essay was written by our friend, Barbara Rick, about Daraja’s very first Graduation Day this past August. The essay was originally published in issue No. 8 for Works and Days Quarterly, an online journal of arts, letters, and craft. Visit their webpage to read the full Autumn issue and see the original version of this essay.


Utambulisho is the Kiswahili word for identity.

Four hours north of Nairobi in kenya, on the outskirts of Nanyuki, 25 girls are taking center stage this morning. The first graduates of Daraja Academy. Daraja means bridge; the Academy is a unique free boarding secondary school where girls are preparing to changing their communities, their country, and the world.

Gifted in academics, leadership, and courage beyond words, these girls are the soul and wonder of Kenya, its future. They are transcending barriers of poverty and gender–creating a new identity for generations of women, men, and families to come.