Dorry is a third-year student at WISER. She is focused on her studies, invested in her classwork, and working toward being the first in her family to reach college. But this week, she’s looking a little further outward: she’s looking at her community.
You see, a new fish factory is being constructed in Dorry’s village. She believes that the unskilled workers in her area will be left out of this new employment opportunity. In fact, Dorry is so concerned about this, she’s taken to voicing her ideas through writing:
“I see people in my community suffering and struggling with life due to a lack of employment… Imagine that someone has a large family to take care of, but has no job to cater for basic needs!”
This month, Dorry and eleven of her classmates have taken part in a ten-session Op-Ed writing workshop. The sessions have encouraged WISER Girls to learn a new style of writing that allows them to express their opinions about the events unfolding around them.
At the beginning of the workshop, students were allowed to choose their own topics to explore and analyze. In the end, the girls wrote Op-Eds examining everything from unemployment in their villages to Kenya’s upcoming national elections.
While it’s clear that the girls are growing as writers through this opportunity, we’re happy to say that what’s even more obvious is their growing confidence. These 12 girls are proudly and emphatically writing on the issues that matter most to them, and they are doing so without fear of being discouraged or dissuaded. They are openly sharing bold news and thoughts on some of Kenya’s toughest issues, such as:
“The supervision of national exams has become stricter, and unprepared students elsewhere in Kenya have responded to this with unrest. People need to sit around the table and solve this education issue. It’s not yet out of hand.” – Second Year student, Sandra
“I have lived in fear of violence during elections. And now, I am afraid that next year will be the worst. We need reconciliation. We need to elect the leaders that will serve us well.” – Third Year student, Joice
Our hope is that, through the continuation of this workshop, the WISER Girls will continue to be empowered and emboldened with the ability to weigh-in on the events and news that affect them. Meanwhile, their writing skills continue to grow, and it’s even possible that a few writers have found their life-long passion.
In Dorry’s own words:
“In the future, I yearn to be an author, and through writing Op-Eds, the skills I have that let me share my opinions have increased. In fact, the interest I have in that career has increased.”
It may still be early, but we’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for the latest and greatest opinion pieces coming out of WISER’s newest opinion writers.
Author’s note: This project was made possible through the Benenson Award in the Arts – a funding opportunity generously provided by the Benenson family in conjunction with Duke University.