Every Girl Counts: Life Beyond Poverty

Written by on April 1, 2013 in Nonprofit - No comments

The following is a guest post by GmG team member and social media maven Jamie Reeves. Please take a moment to read about her recent experience working with girls in Nairobi alongside newly-formed nonprofit Every Girl Counts. 

I recently had the chance to take a once in a lifetime trip to Kenya with a new non-profit based in Franklin, Tennessee, whose mission is to educate, empower, and sustain the lives of girls from impoverished countries.

I’ve never been on a mission trip before and I’ve never traveled to a third-world country. I’ve led a lucky and somewhat sheltered life. I saw this as an opportunity to help broaden my mind and others’ to the depth of poverty in Nairobi.

I tried to prepare my mind for the poverty I would see in the Nairobi slum of Kibera, Africa’s largest slum and one of the largest in the world.

What I witnessed was far beyond what I could comprehend.

As a mom to two girls, I am extremely passionate about ensuring that every girl’s life counts. No girl should feel that she is held back by the shackles of poverty.

Despite horrific living conditions (no running water and no sanitation or sewage system) and circumstances that might seem dire to the rest of the world, the young girls I met from the slum of Kibera were hopeful and beautiful. They have dreams and goals just like my daughters. They face peer pressure just like my daughters. They have best friends and laugh at silly boys just like my daughters. They aspire to become so much more than their environment.

While in Nairobi, Rene Cook, founder of Every Girl Counts, and I also met with young boys living at a juvenile detention center, attended a conference for teen girls run by Swahiba Youth Networks, made several home visits to deliver groceries to single mothers, and met young women enrolled in a mentorship program designed to teach them business skills.

One of the things that left a profound impact on me after our six full days in Nairobi was the dedication and determination of every single mother we met. These women all want a better future for their children. They see life beyond Kibera.

The key to a life beyond the barriers built by poverty is education. I met one teenage girl who walks a mile and a half every day from her mud hut home in Kibera to the other side of the slum to work at a beauty salon. I met one teenage girl who confided in me, “Life is just so hard.”

Many of the girls living in Kibera will never leave its boundaries their entire lives. They need to know it is possible to leave Kibera. They need to know they do not need to leave hope behind.

My friends at Every Girl Counts are in the midst of a fundraising campaign to build Hope Academy, a secondary school for girls from the Kibera slum. To help contribute to the construction campaign for the school, slated to open in early 2014, click here. Want to read more about my experience in Kenya? Click here for a series of posts.

 

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