For a teenage girl from the slums neighboring the Nairobi district of Komarock, attending secondary school is a tall feat. She often confronts poverty, broken families, abuse, and social stigma to gain access to an education.
St. Thaddeus School, a longtime partner of Global Peace Foundation, contributes by providing affordable education, but the most important factor to a student’s success is her personal determination and social support.
To strengthen positive relationships and build on the innate strengths of students, Global Peace Women (GPW) Kenya, launched a mentoring program at St. Thaddeus in early May. Throughout the year, students will connect with women role models and follow a curriculum to cultivate character skills and values that will help them navigate through adolescence and young adulthood.
GPW Kenya representative Misco Mungai and Christina Bleu from GPW International hosted the first session on May 21, helping the girls explore life goals, discuss their value as women, and identify the unique contribution each of them wants to make in their families, schools, and community.
“We will continue to support you with more education, experiences and mentors to enhance your strengths and leadership,” Misco told the students. She encouraged them to also mentor each other. “Start living as one family and support each other through the difficulties you may face.”
Christina told the students to dream big dreams. “Regardless of your current circumstances, each and every one of you is a precious daughter of God who has a special purpose in life,” she said. The students broke out into small groups and talked about their aspirations. The school’s newest student, Lucy, reflected later, “I joined school very late in my life due to challenges at home, but I am encouraged to work hard and encourage all of us to have a big vision for our lives and never give up.”
The girls also discussed positive qualities about themselves and their peers. The exercise drew the girls closer together and strengthened their self-esteem. Head student Pauline said, “I am glad to hear my peers comment positively about my leadership skills in the school. I want to improve more and hope to extend the same even beyond the school.”
The yearlong mentorship program will educate the girls on various topics ranging from women’s leadership, core values, personal hygiene, and stress management. In addition, students and mentors will design and implement local service projects.
Global Peace Women is the women’s division of the Global Peace Foundation and seeks to uplift the value of women through advocacy, networking and service. St. Thaddeus School is supported by St. Thaddeus Child Care Society, which rescues girls who are orphaned or have been victims of early marriages or gender based violence, and assists them to get an education.