The Girls of Daraja

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.

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10 Responses to The Girls of Daraja

  1. Jessica says:

    You sound incredible, they sound incredible, your projects sound incredible, your (and their) stories are incredible. Thank you for posting – especially this last one.
    Lots of love

  2. tycoon says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for the much needed doses of perspective whilst I myself have midterms! I love you!

  3. chocomama says:

    your posting brings tears to my eyes and somehow reminds me of the last line of Golden Slumbers by the Beatles:
    …in the end the love you take/is equal to the love you make…

  4. Josef says:


    I just read all of your posts from start to finish, and I don’t really know what to say except for that I am so incredibly happy for you! This sounds like such a beautiful journey, and just being able to read about it is a joy. Thank you!

    Much love

  5. B says:

    yo yo do you know who bjorn lomborg is? author of “the environmental skepticist?” well he was apparently in copenhagen during the meeting thing and just made some environmental movie–im going to interview him!

    loving all your postings!

    love bridge

  6. Aunt Belle says:

    Cora, I am really enjoying reading about your adventures. Nepal was a real cultural change. Now Daraja. Where is it? What part of Kenya? Joanne, Dick and I had camera safari there in about 1985. We loved it and saw a lot of t he country. Take care. Love, Aunt Belle

  7. Grandma says:

    I’m so happy to read of your experiences. This will shape your life in such significant ways. I love your view of the strength and joy of these girls, and how open they are. We are such spoiled people with such great advantages, but the strength and joy are enviable,aren’t they? Take care,

  8. marjorie says:

    Cora, keep writing these blog entries! I love to hear about it. I am sure you are helping to give these girls more strength and courage and love.
    Lots of love back to you!

  9. mia says:

    I love reading these posts. I’m so impressed with what you’re doing. I hope you continue to have an amazing time. If you happen to stop in London on your way home contact me! I’m here until December 4th.
    love and miss you

  10. Trilby says:

    Cora you are awesome! So inspiring to hear what you are up too on your adventures… Glad the adobe making went well, and sorry we didn’t get back to you sooner.

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