I’ve already done this a bit, and I probably will do it again, but I’m going to attempt to express how amazing these girls are.
One has a baby; she was raped as part of the election violence. One lost four out of the six members of her family in the past three years. One, orphaned, took care of her younger sisters entirely at home. Few have two parents at home, and fewer would be in school if it weren’t for Daraja.
Yet they are here, and what’s more, they SHARE their stories. They write about them, they talk about them, they even allow them to be shared via blog. How much goddamn bravery does it take to not only confront events like that in your past, but then to share them with maybe thousands of people? I can’t think of anything that at least I have done in my life that takes more strength and courage.
Moreover, they comport themselves at Daraja with an immense amount of strenth and joy. They take eleven classes and cover material that I have never heard of. Still, there is one girl (whose dream is to become an Emirates pilot, by the way… and I would be far from surprised if she did exactly that) who comes to me each night begging for more challenging math problems to do for fun. They all have this amount of enthusiasm for even school and classes. They are musically talented; they pick up difficult harmonies in seconds. In between the seriousness and the studying, they find the time to dance in front of Akon music videos on Saturday nights, and throw themselves into events like the Adobe Festival (quite literally, in the case of the holding pit), and to ham it up and act ridiculous sometimes.
The smiles, the hugs, and the enthusiasm make me wonder why in my life I would ever have a reason to be sad. If they can be so happy and loving despite what they have overcome, there should not be anything in my life that I cannot overcome as well.
I could not have expected that I would learn so much about being human – being a loving human – from these girls. They radiate love and just come crashing through any barriers you might have erected to your heart. They especially love each new volunteer that comes unconditionally, whether they are here for two weeks, two months, or a year. That’s another sign of their bravery: that they will throw themselves into any relationship so finite and ephemeral. No matter how sad they are when a volunteer who becomes their best friend leaves, they will not shy away from loving the next one just as much. These girls are far from broken from saying goodbye to those that they grew to love. They understand that each connection and relationship makes them stronger and shows them how important they are in the world.
I am in awe every day. I guess all I have to say is may I learn from their strenth, courage in confrontation, and infinite ability to love. And may they learn something significant from me in return.