A small photo shows her beautiful, round face beaming a huge smile. Not only is she taller, but her posture conveys confidence. A friend peeps over her shoulder and laughs as a photographer snaps the picture. Both girls stand in front of a rough wall at their Rombo boarding school in the wondrous Rift Valley in Kenya.
I read Silantoi’s letter next. She likes science and wants to go to university to become a doctor. “I want to complete [high school] with good grades which will take me to a university around America…that is my dream.”
I’m astonished at Silantoi’s perseverance. Rote learning, no technology, a library consisting of old test booklets shoved on a shelf. I began sponsoring Silantoi’s education when I met the founder of BEADS for Education, Debby Rooney, in a Newburyport, MA, bookstore. Now Debby has opened Tembea High School to give more girls a quality education.
Silantoi graduated 8th grade with high enough test scores to continue on to the Rombo high school, if she chose to—and she did! The significance of this is hard to overstate. Many girls in Kenya don’t go to school, severely limiting their options. When I sent Silantoi a modest watch for a graduation present, she replied, “I really treasure the watch and take care of it…it is really helping me to keep time while studying.”
Education for social justice often begins one child at a time. The gift for me is watching Silantoi grow and reveal her gifts and talents to the world.