I cannot rise and shine in the valley of dying stars.

pauline wanja
Posted April 22, 2013 from Kenya

I am rereading a blog from a very close friend as I write this. I never seem to get enough of his writings, how I wish I could convince him to write more. In this particular blog he talks of a young rapper from our hood who rapped these words not so long ago “Hakuna camera Ina face hii valley of the dying stars, siwezi rise and shine.” Which translates to I cannot rise and shine, there are no camera pointing towards the valley of the dying stars”

I too like the above lines, in a way they capture what is really devoid in a slum. Opportunity and tools to transcend the circumstances we are born into. I believe the greatest challenge girls confront in my community is limited social mobility. True other barriers do exist like the education infrastructure is wanting, the economic constraints are crippling but limited social mobility takes the crown. Girls in my community come from disadvantaged families with very meagre resources hence limited chances to increase their social mobility. We grow in an environment where it is okay to be poor, very little is expected of us and we have no one to disappoint. This makes us less ambitious life becomes all about mere survival.

As being part of the solutions my friends and I started this initiative that seeks to create a platform where young girls in slums aspire for better and more we also hope to build a community that can support these aspirations. The main action point is education. Under which we have relatable mentorship events where we connect the school girls with older girls who grew up in the same hood and now doing amazing stuff. We have story telling session where we get to share our dreams, hopes and fears.

As conveners of the initiative we are in continual search of opportunities that can increase the social mobility and help them seize such opportunities. My friend had this crazy idea of teaching philosophy to the youth around our hood, he gave it a shot, and it didn’t yield much but earned him a philosopher title. We don’t go that far as doing philosophy but we do simple book reading, watching quality cinema the big picture is to expose them to a world beyond the one they have known all their lives. This opens up new possibilities and a longing for something bigger.

Until recently my email signature quote “Poverty won’t let raise your head dignity won’t let you bow it “It is an African proverb I picked from a book .In my interactions with most of the girls I can feel the feeling of smallness which eats into their confidence, there are only confortable in the slums. How to deal with the feeling of smallness is another concern of the initiative. At the end of the sessions we want them to feel they can be anything they choose to be, they probably have to work harder than their peers from the other neighbourhood but it can be done.

I know it may not look like it but a lot has improved in slums that would make learning easier, there is electricity, resources centres, numerous bursaries and education scholarships there was very little of these when my friends and I were growing up. In conclusion, all I am saying as much as we need work on the tangible barriers to these girls accessing a quality education. We need to in still some hopes, raise aspirations and above all support these aspirations.The boy in my friends stops blogging, He probably convinced himself he couldn't rise and shine in the valley of dying stars.

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Comments 5

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  • Klaudia
    Apr 23, 2013
    Apr 23, 2013

    how striking was to read "We grow in an environment where it is okay to be poor, very little is expected of us and we have no one to disappoint. This makes us less ambitious life becomes all about mere survival."!!!

    That's what we have been told. Nevertheless, what you're doing will change the destiny of at least one child.

    My Dad used to go every morning to school with an empty stomach, no shoes, very cold, an even very sick. He was the poorest of the poor, but there was a wise teacher who gave him "heart" by Edmondo De Amicis. And he realized, he had the power to change his destiny. He became one of the first computer engineers in Mexico and has children who have graduated degrees from the top universities of the world.

    I'm sure, you'll find at least one child who will make philosophy into a better life. We´re with you to change their destinies. Klaudia

  • pauline wanja
    Apr 26, 2013
    Apr 26, 2013

    Thanks for your kind words and Thanks for sharing your dad story .Our lives are not limited by the circumstances we are born into.

  • Yosra Akasha
    Apr 23, 2013
    Apr 23, 2013

    breaking the circles of fear and smallness is a great work to motivate those young girls. you are doing a good job.

  • Theresa
    Apr 26, 2013
    Apr 26, 2013

    I really enjoyed your week three journal entry. You are so ambitious and wise and I pray for your strength to continue to rise above all circumstance. You are doing great, keep moving forward and remember you can rise and shine.

    Kind regards,

  • Riya
    Apr 27, 2013
    Apr 27, 2013

    Thank you very much for the post Pauline. I love reading it and about what you're doing. It is wonderful. I know to change the whole situation, we need resources, manpower and education, but on an individual level we can inspire many young people as you and your friend have shown. I know what you're doing is not easy but even if you're able to inspire one person at one time that is a big achievement. Please keep good work going.