Most Daraja girls were busy between Thursday and Saturday of last week, when they participated in Nanyuki’s three-day sports competitions. On Thursday, February 21, the 22 Daraja students who comprise the school’s track-and-field team boarded buses by 7 a.m. and drove 25 kilometers to Nanyuki town, where they joined more than forty other high school teams at the Nanyuki Municipal Stadium. Three Daraja Kenyan Scouts (Doreen, Dianah, and Ann W.) accompanied the team – at their Scouts training they’ve learned about first aid, so their duty was to assist with any (moderate) injuries their athletes might face.
The stadium – an outdoor arena comprised of a large track and some seating – was teeming with hundreds of local youth, high school staff, judges, and athletes’ supporters. It was hot, sunny, and dusty – it hasn’t rained in Nanyuki in months – but students were too busy preparing for their events and cheering each other on to complain about the heat. From morning till late afternoon, the hundreds of athletes participated in a wide array of track-and-field events, including various runs, sprints, fast walking, hurdle-jumping, and discus- and javelin-throwing. Amazingly, many, if not most, of the participants ran barefoot, because, as Daraja students have explained, running with shoes feels too “heavy.” Daraja girls stood out amongst the crowd as, perhaps, the team that cheered the most loudly for one another. While their peers participated, Daraja students lined up by the fence lining the track, screaming and applauding, encouraging their athletes onward. And, as soon as one of their own had finished an event, Daraja spectators were quick to meet them outside the track with high-fives and glasses of water. In fact, the athletes had more than