Summer of Shining Hope

Kiberia School for Girls: Nairobi, Kenya

Hello and welcome to my blog for the Swearer Center International Fellowship for the Summer of 2010! My name is Sammy McGowan, and I'm a rising Senior concentrating in History with a focus in Africa. Here you'll find updates from me about my time in Nairobi, Kenya and my work with the organization Shining Hope for Communities and its primary school called The Kiberia School for Girls.

The Kibera School for Girls was founded in 2009 by Kibera resident, community leader, and current Wesleyan student, Kennedy Odede and Wesleyan Graduate Jessica Posner. It is the only school in Kibera that offers a completely free education to girls. In Kibera, an informal housing settlement home to approximately 1.5 million people, 60% of girls routinely trade sex for food by age 16, only 8% have the chance to go to school, and 1 in 5 children don’t live to see their 5th birthday. In a place that puts up nearly insurmountable barriers for women, the Kibera School for Girls is a powerful force for change, not just to the 45 kindergarten and first graders currently enrolled, but to an entire community seeking to transform their home into a place of peace.

The Kibera School for Girls is also home to the community organization Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). SHOFCO began as a soccer league for troubled kids started by Odede while he was a youth living in Kibera. As part of SHOFCO, the school also maintains a sustainable vegetable garden that helps feed the children, a bio-latrine that creates cooking gas, a library and a women's microfinance empowerment center.

As a volunteer this past fall, I worked specifically on the development of a community health clinic to be run by SHOFCO, but I also worked generally on maintaining the school and its various components. I've returned this summer to continue my work with the Kibera School for Girls and to aid in the construction and development of the Johanna Justin-Jinich Memorial Health Clinic.

Stay tuned for updates, pictures and information on how you can help out!