In December, a group of CWS board members and I visited CWS programs in Kenya. On one day, we embarked on a challenging journey by Jeep, navigating through rugged terrain until we reached a secluded community where a chorus of joyful women welcomed us with dancing and clapping. Amidst this warm reception, we met with Michael, a farmer who had received a small gift of six chicks and a goat from CWS. Today, his once modest flock has blossomed into a thriving enterprise, attracting buyers seeking his quality goods. The eggs were not just a commodity; they became a currency for education, enabling his eldest son to graduate with first-class honors in finance from university.
A short walk down a dusty path led us to Chepakul Primary School, where yet another jubilant crowd celebrated our presence. Two classrooms, initially constructed by CWS, inspired the community to match the effort and build two more. Latrines and water tanks, courtesy of CWS, now stood as vital amenities. However, the most transformative impact was represented in the dormitories funded by CWS, providing a safe haven for 80 girls. Previously, these young students had to travel long distances on dangerous footpaths to and from school each day, often falling victim to sexual abuse. The dorms changed the narrative. Living at the school means the family knows the daughters have food every day, water for drinking and bathing and, now that they are safe on campus, their daughters are safe. One mother shared that pregnancy rates have dropped and they are excited about empowering girls to pursue education without fear.
In the past, without the CWS investments in Chepakul, most of the female students would drop out of school long before 8th grade. Before, schooling was tough and easily replaced by early marriages as a tool for survival, but this trend has undergone a remarkable shift. A glance at the teacher’s office chalkboard proudly displayed an almost equal number of boys and girls, even in 8th grade. As we met with the community, leaders repeatedly shared their commitment to and belief in the power of sending girls to school and rejecting harmful practices. The mothers passionately shared their belief in the transformative power of education for their families and the entire community.
One leader affirmed, “Every coin you donate is put to good use,” a truth we saw with our own eyes. The investments made in this community have not merely yielded returns; they have multiplied tenfold. The ripple effects of improved water sources, sustainable livelihoods and accessible education have brought about a profound transformation, painting a vivid picture of a community transformed.
Mary Catherine Hinds is CWS’ Senior Director of Fundraising Strategy. Click here to learn more about our programs in Africa.