Summer Update: East African Young Women’s Leadership Initiative

Summer Update: East African Young Women’s Leadership Initiative

Kenyan girls relaxing during their midterm break

Here’s what’s been happening in Kenya and Tanzania with the East African Young Women’s Leadership Initiative over the last few months. Daniel Salau, the program coordinator, and Julie Ojiambo, a Brighter Green intern who traveled to Kenya in August, helped update Brighter Green on the young women’s progress.


At the end of June, the Kenyan young women finished their second academic term and the Tanzanian young women finished their first academic term of the school year.  Throughout June, the young women progressed well in their studies without any interruptions.

The Kenyan women happily reported no health problems throughout June.  During the short midterm break, four of the young women received productive mentoring and counseling from Daniel Salau, the program coordinator.  The young women developed a good attitude towards their future. They were willing and ready to study, despite the challenges, for their university examinations. Elizabeth has aspirations to be a doctor and help her community. She says, “After my degree in medicine I would like to work only for three years in my community and then go back to school and do my second degree not in medicine but in social work which will enable me to mingle with my Maasai community as I [have a] passion to uplift my community, especially the Massai girls and women.”

The Tanzanian women are also doing well.  The Tanzanian academic calendar slightly changed due to the national census exercise in August so the young women had two two-week breaks.

Unfortunately, Peninah sadly lost her grandmother and is now under the care of her other relatives.  She did not sit for her end of term exams but took them when she returned to school after the break.


The Kenyan women prepared for their final exams by taking Mock Exams.  These exams simulate the final national exams the students take in November.

Sabina, Joyce, and Ann, received career counseling and moral guidance as part of a school-wide counseling session.  Career advisors, professional counselors, as well as church ministers attended.  The young women also received tips on how to study for their exams.  Many of the women reported finding the experience wonderful and helpful.  There will be a follow up session next term that will deal with individual challenges.

Sabina, Joyce, and Ann, were very active during the discussions and spoke confidently.  Joyce even spoke in front of the entire school thanking the guests for their participation.

A parents meeting was also held.  Parents were reminded that they are role models for the young women.  They were advised on ways to help shape and support their daughters.

Hellen’s school, Moi Girls’ Secondary School Isinya, had Parent’s Day.  She appreciated program officials attending the meeting as she has no mother.  Despite some problems with her asthma, she has pulled through and is doing well.  She was very excited about an exposure field trip to Mombasa for her Geography class.

Elizabeth’s school, Baraka Ontoyie Secondary School, had also gone an educational tour of the Rift Valley Naivasha Go-Thermal station, the Menengai crater of Nakuru, and other geographical features.

The Tanzanian women went back to school in July and were in school for one and a half months before breaking for the national census.  They resumed school in September and started their second and final term of the academic year.  Rehema Emmanual is expected to take her final exam in the beginning of October.

Julie Ojiambo, a Brighter Green research intern, traveled to Kenya in August to work with Brighter Green’s partner organization SIMOO. Julie worked in Ngong, Kenya, a town on the outskirts of Nairobi, with Daniel Salau, the Director of SIMOO and the Young Women’s Leadership Initiative program coordinator. She researched higher learning institutions in Nairobi, as the young women intend to attend university once they complete high school and take the national exam at the end of this year. Julie also traveled to Ewauso, a town about four hours from Nairobi, and interviewed Hellen and Salome about their experiences in the Young Women’s Leadership Initiative. According to Julie, “The girl are very ambitious. Despite the challenges they face in their community they are determined to work hard to improve the conditions of their families and that of other girls just like themselves from the Maasai community.” The young women also took Julie on a tour of Ewauso. One of the local villagers treated Julie and the women to “Nyama Choma”, a meal, in appreciation for the work Brighter Green and other organizations are doing to help improve the young women’s lives in their community.

Julie also spent time with the Green Belt Movement, which has its headquarters in Nairobi. She met the current Nobel Prize winner Leymah Gbowee who planted a tree in honor of the late Wangarai Maathai. Julie also researched the use of solar energy as an alternative source of energy in Nairobi for a project with SIMOO, Brighter Green, and Tribal Link have been working to get off the ground. She went to local vendors to see the prices as well as the popularity of solar panels. Julie concluded that people are starting to consider using solar energy as an alternative source of energy. In the past, people did not consider using solar panels. Now, however, using solar energy is seen more widely as a step towards increasing environmental sustainability in Kenya.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Salau