A school is so much more than a collection of buildings and books. Schools are a collection of ideas. Every school has its own unique collection of ideas that make it different from the rest, they provide it with its own distinct personality; it’s identity.
Daraja is a great idea. But, ideas require people to give them life…
Daraja Academy’s strength has always been the people who believed in its core idea: that Kenyan girls of poverty deserve access to a quality education. At its foundation, Daraja is the people who give that idea life – the people who go to the events, the board members, the selfless individuals who tirelessly sweep and clean long after fundraisers have ended, it is the donors. The high school students who belong to Daraja clubs in the US and the foundations that provide funding are equally important, as are you – by taking the time to read these words and allowing them to take root in you mind, you are a valued part of the Daraja movement and when you talk about the school and the girls it serves, you are doing your part to make a difference in the world.
But, if the aforementioned are the metaphorical muscles, which allow the Daraja Academy to move about overseas, who is the structure? the skeleton that holds the actual campus together here in Kenya? Funny you should ask…
Head of Security: Christopher Leting
Christopher’s job at Daraja Academy is to coordinate and supervise the campus’ seven askaris (guards). The askaris have protected the campus as if it were their own over the last 4 years. Literally speaking, it is home to five of the seven askaris and their families, including Christopher, but I will get to that in a later blog entry.
Christopher is from the Kalenjin tribe. The Kalenjin are actually a conglomeration of several western Kenyan sub-tribes, of which Christopher’s is the Nandi. It is very clear why the Baraka School chose Christopher to head up their security team. One only needs to talk with Christopher for a short time before his integrity and rock solid values shine through.
Christopher, his beautiful wife Lea and their two daughters, Faith 4 and Elsie 18 months permanently live on campus. Faith is my ray of sunshine. Each morning as I drive or walk down to central campus, she drops what ever she is doing and bounds barefoot. This is something that makes me smile every time I see it: 2 feet of earnest energy dodging her way through tufts of grass and grazing sheep to pull herself up onto my trucks running board and shake my hand. She was born on September 16th, my mother’s birthday, which cold explain my affinity for her.
Growing up in Western Kenya, Christopher was one of 22 children, his father had two wives, each baring 11 children. Though very smart, his family did not have the money to continue his education after secondary school. Originally very disappointed, Christopher adapted and began to educate himself. He is a voracious reader and has read nearly every book that the Baraka School left in its library. As I type from the porch of our house, I can see him reading about the Saxon invasion of Britain under a tree outside of our compound where the young girls cannot pester him.
Head of Grounds and Maintenance: Peter Rutere
A member of the Embu tribe, Peter Rutere 34, grew up on the lush, green eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya. Peter and his wife Cecilia have two children; Boniface and Bridget.
It is not an exaggeration to say that this campus would come to a sickening halt if not for this man. He keeps everything above and below