Students, Alumna Mentor Children in Summer Institute in Kenya

Emily Weitzman ’14 hugs one of her students at the Shining Hope for Communities Summer Institute. Weizman says many of the girls want to be teachers, pilots and doctors when they grow up.

Six Wesleyan students and one alumna spent part of their summer in Nairobi, Kenya as volunteers in Shining Hope for Communities Summer Institute. The institute brings college undergraduates and recent graduates together with students from the Kibera School for Girls.

Institute participants provided tutoring and mentoring during the mornings and helped run a summer camp at the school in the afternoon. The volunteers also worked on other Shining Hope projects, including the Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic, a clean water project, toilet access project, community center, and a garden project.Shining Hope for Communities was founded three years ago by Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09.

Their inaugural project was the Kibera School for Girls (KSG), a day school set in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, which is reputed to be one of the most impoverished slums in the world.

Odede, who comes from Kibera, and Posner founded the school as both an educational institution and a safe place for young girls in the slum. Because of cultural beliefs, girls are often overlooked for education in Kibera. In addition, because of the rough day-to-day existence in the slum, girls as young as 6-years-old often are sold or abducted into sex slavery.

Within a year of the school’s founding, Odede and Posner received grants to expand its offerings as well as build the clinic and the water and latrine facilities. The garden is used as a way to sustainably supplement the food requirements of the school, as well. As a result the school and clinic have become a vital part of the Kibera community, and a gathering place for families and others who wish to improve their conditions. The school currently has 63 students enrolled.

The institute, which hosted eleven volunteers overall, is a highly-competitive, educational experience. Along with mentoring and tutoring students, participants must design and execute workshops that inspire KSG students to acquire new skills in such areas as sports, theater and arts and crafts. Highlights included field trips to a railroad museum and the airport, as well as a variety of classes and activities that would not have been possible without the students taking part in the institute.

The summer institute hosted 11 student volunteers.

Blog entries by Nicole Softness ‘14 and Emily Weitzman ’14 discussed some of activities and instruction that Institute members provided for the KSG students. The full list of Wesleyan students and recent alumni who participated includes:

Susanna Banks ’13
Jordana Hoyt ’11
Kimberly Ladd ’13
Francesca Moree ’14
Kathryn O’Donovan ’13
Nicole Softness ’14
Emily Weitzman ’14