In December, Peris, Triza and Villitracia finished their first year of high school at Christ the King Girls Academy, an all-girl Catholic boarding school. It was an exciting year of changes. They transitioned from a day school located in a slum to a boarding school that serves the brightest students from the upper class of Kenya. Each girl sent us three letters during the year, describing their experiences. (When reading their letters, remember that English is each girl’s third language and that Kenyan English normally sounds strange to American ears.)
Villitracia wrote about being nervous on the first day of school:
In the first day of school I was so surprised and full of questions of how life in boarding school is like because I had never stepped in a boarding school. After some days I came to realize that boarding life is so cool. Thanks to you I am here.
We sponsored these girls because they were the top performers at their public, primary school and they could not afford to attend a high-quality secondary school that matched their talents. Looking at their grades for the first year, it is clear that our girls can hold their own with peers who have better educational backgrounds. Peris and Triza improved considerably over the year and all three finished in the top half of the class.Class Ranking Percent Term 1End of YearVillitracia76%75%Triza41%65%Peris65%97%
Peris is obviously an outstanding student, at the end of the year ranking first in Chemistry, second in Physics, and third in overall class standing, out of 110 students. Her achievement is more impressive considering the advantages that her classmates had before high school. Peris told us that her friends were surprised that she didn’t know what a “flash drive” was, or how it worked with a computer:
They assumed that I was from the same world with them, because they all have computers at their homes.
In fact, she did not have a computer at her home or even at her primary school. Computer studies is required at Christ the King, giving her a chance to catch up with her classmates.
Villitracia’s studies were interrupted in Term 2 by pneumonia, which required her to spend some time at the hospital. She recovered and was back to her energetic self when she proudly announced that she had been elected “Liturgy Executive,” a position within the student government responsible for organizing student participation in mass.
These girls have worked tremendously hard to get where they are, so it is no surprise that they have strong sources of motivation. Triza told us what she hopes for her future:
My favorite subjects are agriculture and business. I really love agriculture cause it involves land farming and factors concerning the environment. I also love business cause when I grow up I would like to be a business lady and an Engineer.
In line with these aspirations, Triza’s highest ranking subject is Business, where she ranked is tenth out of 110 students. In Kenya, where much of the economy is notoriously inefficient, Triza could easily leverage her education and drive into business success.
Vilitracia draws strength from her two caring parents, a rare blessing among poor Kenyans. They are clearly important to her:
My mom is a hardworking woman. I love her so very much because whatever little she has she appreciates it. She is also kind and friendly and she does everything with determination. My dad does casual work and he is also a hard working man, he is also a determined person and very friendly. They are my role models.
Above all, the letters from the girls are full of gratitude for the opportunity to attend this school. Peris wrote,
First I would like to thank you for your generosity. I have never experienced the kindness that you have shown us before. You are God’s angels in spite of you not knowing who we really are.
I really love this school. I love its buildings, its furniture and also its school equipment. I’m really thankful for bringing me to this school and may God bless you with more than a thousand blessings.
In her last letter of the year, Villitracia wrote,
I want to thank you for the whole year, it has been such a beautiful year thanks to you and the other donors, I love you all.
You have done a wonderful thing, giving these girls a beautiful year.
Full text of letters and report cards are available here.