|Franchophonie meets Starehe Girls’|
The ‘Magnificent Starehe Way’ teaches that life is about making a difference. To experience this, Child Africa-Kenya Office joined some representatives from the Committee for the Franchophonie at the Starehe Girls’ Centre & School on Tuesday 28 April 2016. The team had taken the time to personally deliver the cheque for the money raised during the Franchophonie week which culminated in a ball that was held on April 2 2016 at the France Ambassador’s Residence in Nairobi, Kenya.
The very graceful director of the school Sister Jane Soita welcomed us to learn more about the national schools’ progress. The scouts and guides got our full attention during the very impressive guard of honour. We were then taken on a tour of the school, passing through ongoing classes, fish-ponds, laboratories, green houses with vegetables for feeding the students and their dorms. They even have a dorm called The White House, which is as immaculate as its name.
It was interesting to learn about all the individuals and organisations who have contributed to the growth of the school and ensuring that the needy bright girls do not stay out of school for lack of school fees. Founded on the principles of ‘The Starehe Way’, the first group of girls was admitted in 2005. Today, 95% of candidates qualify for university education.
After the tour, we joined the students in the dining hall. Here, they presented the songs, dances and French poems that left us even more awed. Of note was the school’s song that goes (in part);
“These are the years when we are helped and guided
Taught by Starehe to know and judge and do
Prepared for the future, encouraged and provided
Strengthened to serve; Natulenge juu”
During the handing over of the cheque, the Committee's chair, Brigitte Mazille thanked the entire Franchophonie group for supporting the cause, which is in its third edition. The France Ambassador’s wife Marie-Celine Marechaux, spoke about being a woman in the 21st Century. “Its not easy as you have to be a professional, a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter-it's a lot of work. The key to success is the kind of education you are getting here and improving all the skills you need to have a balanced life,” she said.
Additionally, the Vice Chair of the Committee Nadine de Smedt reminded the girls that it was equally important that they have the knowledge of another language like French, which was already offered at the school. She also reminded them about the importance of working hard and being proud of being women.
Claudiah Gachimbi of BINGWA Magazine congratulated the team for raising the money for the girls and urged the Starehe Girls to continue their inspiring spirit since BINGWA Magazine readers (in primary school) were looking up to them.
"I learnt that though we are different in terms of culture and language, we also have a lot in common with the Franchophonie team. I was really touched by their love and heart of giving," said Bushnell Atieno, a Form Four student at the school. Atieno, who wants to be a Telecommunications Engineer, said that her French skills were challenged and that she was looking forward to improving by learning even more about the culture.
Brenda Chelagat, also in Form Four, said that she was more confident in terms of her French skills compared to the last time the same team had come to the school. “This time, I even gave the vote of thanks and was the one introducing the speakers. Chelagat is inspired by the Ambassadors who visit and donate to the school. She plans to study International Relations so she can also follow in their footsteps.
As we left the school, the Starehe’s Founder Dr. Geoffrey Griffins words echoed all around us, “And when you have finished your duty, go on to spare sometime and talent in service to the less fortunate not for the reward at all, but because it's the right thing to do.”