Sarah Montgomery wrote -
May 15th. Every year thousands of people flock the streets of San Francisco for the legendary Bay to Breakers. This year, on the 100th anniversary of the race, the Carr Educational Foundation and Daraja Academy of Kenya are joining with former volunteers, advocates, board members, and even the founders, to run for the girls in Kenya. As we run the race in the states, the girls will be doing a walk-a-thon around Daraja's campus at the foot of Mt. Kenya.
Daraja Academy is a boarding school for Kenyan girls with top academic scores and exceptional leadership skills, but no means to continue their education. The academy provides shelter, food, healthcare, and counseling services which allows students to focus on their academic and personal potential, without being hindered by the everyday barriers of poverty.
This day is about the girls. I have been blessed to travel to Daraja twice and they are the reason I am going back again this summer. The girls are also the reason I am studying months in East Africa this fall. They are my motivation in school and in everything I do. Without them, my life would be completely different. So together, lets work and run for the girls and help them receive the education that they deserve.
My dad, Scott; brother, Kyle; and I are running the race, and my mom, Suzanne, will be an epic cheerleader. The race is 12k (8mi) and hopefully we all will make it through in one piece or try to beat my dad. My family is asking for donations as we raise money for four very special Daraja girls: Lisayo, Lillian, Irene, and Joyce. Any donation is greatly appreciated. $5/mile, $50/mile...A little goes a long way for these girls.
For more information about the Daraja Academy of Kenya, visit www.daraja-academy.org.
Asante Sana. (Thank you in Swahili). and Peace. Love. Daraja.
Here is a little about each of the four girls we are running for:
I met Lisayo in 2010. She is quiet, but once she starts running, or steps on the soccer field, her face lights up and the rare smile makes an appearance. She has been extremely successful at sectionals and regionals in running, placing first or second in her events. My family is lucky to be able to sponsor Lisayo, not just for B2B, but for her whole time at Daraja. Lisayo is from a family of six. Her father died eight years ago, leaving her mother and older sister to look for work to support the family. Lisayo often went hungury becasue her sister and mother cound find no work. Their beds were made of sticks placed on the ground. She lived far away from the nearest school and as such, she developed a love for running, which she is sharing with the rest of the girls in the first year of the cross country team at Daraja. We love you so much Lisayo.
Like Lisayo and Lillian, Irene is an avid athlete. She is tiny and holds a big smile. She was one of the heros of the football tournament the girls placed second in. Her smile is contageous and she is one of the smartest in her class. Irene is the seventh born out of nine children. Much of the family’s modest income went to theschool fees of her older siblings. As a result, shehad to be out of school up to a year at a time andmoved with various relatives during her fight tocontinue going to school.Despite all the moving around, Irene managed toposition herself as the top ranked student at herprimary school. Irene aspires to be a journalist because she sees it as a field in which a person is able to interact with people from different parts of the world. As a journalist, she says she plans to spread the word about Daraja Academy so that young women like her around Kenya can receive the same opportunity that she is having.
Joyce's story took my heart as she struggled to get the education she so desired. She is unbelievebly kind and very intelligent. We are so happy to be partnering with her for the run. Joyce has two sisters and one twin brother. Her mother died giving birth to Joyce’s younger sister and, from then on, Joyce was raised by her father. Joyce’s father worked hard to ensure that her school fees were paid. He died a few years later, however, and her stepmother took all of the family’s belongings and disappeared. Suddenly orphans, the children had to learn how to sustain themselves. Joyce’s eldest sister left school to “look for contracts” in order to feed the family. Due to her inability to pay school fees, Joyce eventually left primary school for a year until the government made primary education free. Both her older siblings scored high marks on the KCPE exam yet failed to get funding for secondary school. Despite seeing their failures, Joyce continued to try hard in school and her efforts have paid off tremendously. Joyce hopes to be a court magistrate in order “to give people fair judgment.” While she is one of the quieter students, her past shows that Joyce is a silent fighter for what she knows she deserves. Her ability to maintain hope is something to admired.
Lillian has been my sister since I first met her in 2009. It broke my heart to learn that her mother, father, older brother, and older sister had all died within three years and the only famiy she has left is her younger brother, who she constantly worries about. However, she is by far one of the happiest girls at Daraja. She absolutely loves football (soccer for Americans) and we instantly bonded over the sport. As you will see below, her writing is beautiful. Lil, this run is for you.
"There is always a pattern which everybody has to follow, a pattern of joy and peace, a pattern of tears and sorrow, a pattern in which you bring change to what you have to be all because you are the source of energy required to attain all what is best. What happens when we don’t have peace of mind? What will happen if we are not ourselves? Sometimes back I wanted to see a better change in me, but I couldn’t work unless I trusted myself. You may have everything with you, but not enough just because you don’t have peace of mind. There are incidents that always try to make use losers, but we have to think positively and flow the right direction. Actually as a child growing up my mother always told me that I have to take good care of myself and follow what is within me, to follow my heart and to do what I think is right without feeling guilty. Everything seemed easy for I didn’t have any idea bout life without her. I was only ten years old when she kicked the bucket and I had to go and stay with my grandmother while my little brother went to live with my aunt far away from home. Life is not easy especially when you don’t live with your family in my grandmother’s house I usually work with her and help her in whatever way. It is to difficult to live without my brother because every now and then I have to think about him and how he feels being so far form his sister. It’s so tricky to stay all-alone in a quiet place without expressing your feelings to your family members without sharing all that is good about life with them. While at home I use most of the time looking after my grandmother’s cattle and also help her in house chores. At times I read novels and write some detail about life because I have proof that life is living with trust. I never compare myself with other because I may become bitter. That’s why I always stand with my principles. What I know is that today I will face lots and lots of difficulties, but I will work smart to see good rewards tomorrow. My past life has to do mostly with hardships and fear. I talk about fear because I never wanted to lose what I am holding in my heart. I suppose that all I’ve gone through is the clearest of what I am today. Growing up this way has proved that it is possible to rise about the unexpected things and my constant is to ensure that I have hope for the unseen. For there is always a way, if there is trust. I feel privileged to be the queen of my destiny, out to protect all that surrounds me with heroism to see the change I want. As a lady who has the ability and knows what life is about, I don’t have the lose hope because I have strength and passion to be a great person in the world for all what is hoped for will always come true."