Born and raised in Africa’s largest slum, Kennedy Odede ’12 witnessed abuse, rape, domestic violence and general mistreatment of school-aged girls in his community. His own sister, at age 17, gave birth to a baby recently as a result of rape.
Sadly, this is the norm. Without access to education, many of the girls are forced into commercial sex work at early ages. The Kenyan Government views the slum, named Kibera, as an illegal settlement and therefore does not provide any services or government-funded schools.
“Girls in my community lose their hope of ever attaining an education and ever leaving the slum,” Odede explains.
As 2009 Davis Projects for Peace grant recipients, Odede and his project partner Jessica Posner ’09 hope to make a difference in these girls’ lives by constructing the slum’s first all-girls school called the Kibera School for Girls. Project for Peace awards, worth $10,000, are designed to encourage and support today’s motivated youth to create and tryout their own ideas for building peace.
The school will offer 105 girls in grades K through six a high-quality formal education based on Montessori school teachings, as well as daily nourishment, self-empowerment, and a refuge from the pressures of the slum. By preparing students for higher education and skilled jobs, Posner says the school will keep the girls out of prostitution and offer them a potential path out of the slum.
“Our hope is that after they leave the school, they will be academically qualified for scholarships at prestigious government boarding schools, and can eventually attend college,” Posner says.