WISER holistically improves health and educational outcomes for girls, particularly those orphaned by AIDS. We also work with the community to change how girls are valued and provide community programs.
Empowering Girls through Education and Health
The WISER Secondary School for girls takes a holistic approach to the boarding school environment. Unlike other schools in the area, WISER provides everything a girl needs to be successful including — clothes, books, safe housing, female role models, leadership training, healthy food, mosquito nets, HIV education, and essential medicine.
WISER is also committed to the highest quality of education by providing engaged and supportive teachers and administrators who live on campus. These role models spend time during the evenings and on weekends empowering girls through — recreational and competitive sports, social and academic clubs, psychological support and counseling, tutoring, and science and math competitions. WISER is committed to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education for girls and our students outcompete the boys in the county and are currently engaging in regional competitions like the Kenya Science Congress.
WISER girls gain leadership skills through planning and implementing many group activities such as — dancing and singing celebrations, Monday and Friday assemblies, peer counseling, and church services. In addition, visitors from other countries allow for sharing between different cultures. For example, Duke University students visit each summer for eight weeks to conduct research, spend time sharing and learning with the girls, and implementing programs in the community. This approach is currently being expanded to include high school students and teachers from other countries.
Sexual Reproductive Health and Psychological Support
The WISER girls elect peer counselors that receive the same training as teachers on sexual reproductive health. These peer counselors lead small groups of WISER girls organized as Houses of Wisdom. The Houses of Wisdom meet weekly to discuss sexual reproductive health and psychological or social issues facing the girls. WISER girls also meet as an entire group twice a month to discuss sexual reproductive health issues with a teacher to help guide conversation. Teachers and administrators are assigned as mentors to the Houses of Wisdom and also to the different graduating classes in order to provide additional emotional support.
Annual Health Fair
Each year, WISER brings ear, eye, and gynecological healthcare providers to Muhuru Bay who offer free screenings to community members.
To reduce the risk of HIV, WISER has partnered with Duke University to create the READY Program, which improves family communication skills and interactions to promote healthier lifestyles and mental well-being. The READY Program is implemented by community members at local churches. The READY program has reduced HIV risk factors for youth, improved family interaction strategies about sex, reduced belief in myths about HIV, and altered family financial decisions to better support their children.
Muhuru Bay residents get drinking water by scooping it up in a bucket from Lake Victoria or from ditches and gullies after it rains. Few households have latrines and water is frequently contaminated with fecal matter, leading to outbreaks of typhoid. In partnership with UNICEF-WASH and the Government of Kenya WISER built and maintains a clean water system that provides potable water to 5,000 members of community via a series of water dispensing kiosks, including one at the Ministry of Health clinic. Prior to installation of the water dispensing kiosk the clinic did not have clean water to wash its tools or provide to patients. The community water kiosks are run and managed by AIDS widows, providing much needed employment for this vulnerable population.
Most children in Muhuru Bay come to school hungry. Besides not having enough food, they are malnourished from eating a limited diet that doesn’t allow them to thrive. WISER’s newest endeavor is to improve nutrition for students in the primary schools by identifying nutritional deficiencies and developing school gardens to improve health and educational outcomes .