Now that the summer season has come to a close in the United States, many of Daraja’s dedicated volunteers and visitors have left campus. It is no secret that the hands of volunteers are incredibly valuable here on campus and the global relationships that they establish are cherished by both students and visitors. Cristen, a student at the University of Louisville who was in Kenya for a study abroad trip, recently spent four weeks on Daraja’s campus and caught what we call “Daraja Fever,” an acute affliction of the heart that is both critically life changing and extremely contagious. Here is her story:

After spending two months traveling every few days and taking classes throughout Kenya, Cristen finally settled down and unpacked her bags at Daraja in July. With a month’s time to be spent in one place, Cristen was ready to embrace her time and cherish each moment she had with the Daraja girls. She reflected, “When I stepped foot on Daraja’s campus for the first time, I immediately knew I’d have a hard time leaving.”

As a four-week volunteer, Cristen’s responsibilities included developing an Alumni plan for our upcoming graduates and holding basketball clinics on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings in order to teach techniques and get to know the girls. Cristen worked hard to lay the groundwork for an Alumni networking tool that the graduates will utilize to stay in touch since they’ve now left Daraja’s campus.

Each day, Cristen made it her first priority to interact as much as possible with Daraja students. “The opportunities to talk with them during meals, assist with chores, participate in various workships, and watch them perform in “Daraja’s Got Talent,” were the highlights of my trip, without a doubt,” she reported.

When asked about what makes Daraja so special, Cristen explained: “One of the unique qualities about Daraja Academy is unity. The girls come from multiple backgrounds, diverse cultures, and various circumstances. Despite any differences, they all have one thing in common: Daraja and their hunger for education. The Daraja girls showed me how they are using their inner strength to overcome the genuine hardship that many of them have experienced. The amount of hope and faith they possess is endless; I was privileged to listen to their stories and experience the depths of their hearts.”

Upon leaving, it was clear to the students and the staff that Cristen would be back to Daraja’s campus sometime soon. “From campus’ contagiously cheerfu