Volunteer Nancy Hanssen has been to the campus twice. She is already scheduling a date for her third visit. She has been a huge proponent of this project and has worked tirelessly, in collaboration with University of San Diego, to help the academy grow.

The piece written below by Nancy documents her emotions during her very first visit last year. It was the visit that, lucky for us, solidified her bond with Daraja.

Voices of Daraja

My First Visit

By Nancy Adelle Hanssen

A flicker of lights dotted the darkness as the plane began its descent.  Nodding in and out of weariness after thirty hours of travel, a sense of serene slithered into my consciousness.  I pressed my forehead against the small, cool window and squinted trying to capture a glimpse of the countryside.  Too dark at three o’clock in the morning but in my mind I saw the rolling hills of the valleys and the umbrella tops of the acacia trees.  In my heart I heard the voices of the young women of the Daraja Academy whispering their dreams.

I am Monicah

I am from Nanyuki

I am from a land of peace and harmony

I am from dreams of adventure and listening to happily ending stories

I am she who likes music

I am from Daraja

I am Monicah

Landing jolted me back to now.  Would the Kanatco cab office still be open at this hour?  Surely, someone from the Macushla House in Karen where I was staying would notify the drivers.  The plane rolled to a stop.  Gathering my belongings, I felt myself filling with trepidation and anticipation.

As I nervously climbed into the back seat of the cab, the driver chatted with others in Swahili.  Soon the car rolled out past the Nairobi airport and I sat enveloped in darkness and quiet.  A small crack of hello in English opened a conversation about the beauty of Kenya and why I had come.

I am Benedictor

I am from Nairobi

I am from a peaceful, glad and loving family

I am from wanting to fulfill my dreams

I am from Daraja

I am Benny

The car sped but slowed over bumps in the road.  With smiles and laughter, the driver and I shared our fondness for early morning drives with no traffic.    I watched as the slums of the city made way to looming lawns and towering walls.  I thought about the power of humor to make a friend.  A wrong turn and a stop to ask a young herder walking his cow along the road, we made a u-turn. Guards in green uniforms emerged in front of the beam from headlights and pushed open the gates.  Welcomed with a smile from Helen, a cup of tea and clean bed, I fell quickly to sleep hearing words that would soon be written.

I am Everlyne

I am from a place that never stumbles

I am from the land above

I am from a village of ten clans

I am from a quiet, kind and peaceful community