There are moments in your life and in the life of a community where it is as if time holds still long enough for everyone to acknowledge a miracle. The dedication ceremony for the Kibera School for Girls was one such moment in our lives and in the life of the Kibera Community. The school is indeed nothing short of miraculous. There are moments in any project as large as this one where one wonders what they have gotten into. There are a million daily details that can never be completed. There is a frenzied pace to every day, such that sometimes it is easy to lose track of the bigger picture. But at our dedication ceremony we all stood back to catch our breath and in doing so realized that what we created together is much bigger, more imaginative, and more transformative than what we could have envisioned on our own. In this spirit on August 18th 2009, along with the school and Kibera communities, we dedicated the Kibera School for Girls compound to belieiving in the power of hope.
The day itself began with an even greater fervor than usual. Our parents and students began to arrive at 8:00 a.m. in freshly pressed uniforms. It became immediately obvious that our children and parents had never been to an event celebrating them. Soon after our partners The American Friends of Kenya arrived to participate in the festivities. We were then joined by the Kenyan press, and George Milkwa, the CEO of the Association of Kenyan Independent Schools.
When Kennedy and I arrived at the school we found the parents and children singing. One mother stood in the center leading a call and response song. She lifted her voice in praise singing the lyrics, “That’s why we love you God, when we think there is no hope you prove us wrong. When we search for death you give us life. That’s why we love you, you show us that there is a brighter day, a day of peace, a second chance, you teach us to keep singing songs of hope.” I felt shivers go down my back as the kids clapped and danced while singing along.
During the ceremony itself several parents told their stories about growing up hoping for an education themselves, and their elation that their children will receive more education than they did. Three student representatives spoke as well about their beautiful new school and excitement to begin learning. The CEO of the Kenyan Association of Independent Schools also spoke, lauding revolutionary and ground breaking educational models like ours. Finally, our partners the American Friends of Kenya spoke and the Executive Director gave her silver wings to the school after Jackie Kemuto, one such student representative, declared her dream to be a pilot.
From the look of this start, these kids will fly high.