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ISK Lends a Hand in Muslim Girls’ Education

By Pierina Redler
ISK Lends a Hand in Muslim Girls’ Education

“If you’re going to be a transformative teacher, you have to make sacrifices,” says Zuhura Hussein Omar, Principal of Bright Girls Shela Secondary School on the Kenyan island of Lamu. The School is situated in the oldest continuously inhabited settlement on the East African coast. Its centuries-old architecture and motley mix of Swahili, Arabian, and European cultures have secured it a spot on the United Nations World Heritage Site list. The students at Bright Girls are from Lamu’s slum areas and surrounding islands. Some trek to and from the school daily, and those who can afford it take a 40-shilling boat ride. On this predominantly Muslim island, the school provides education to girls who otherwise may be married off at an early age.
Pierina Redler, the service learning coordinator at the International School Kenya (ISK), and a Bright Girls volunteer has had on ongoing relationship with the school, building classrooms, and donating library books from ISK, which has gone a long way towards ensuring that the students complete the Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education. Pierina has encouraged volunteers from ISK to assist with the school and more recently has built a boarding facility so that more Muslim girls from the islands in the archipelago can access education.
Nandi Blanchard, a former ISK student from the class of 2014, has been a great asset for Bright Girls Secondary School, completing her gap year as a teaching assistant and swimming coach. Through her fundraising efforts, Nandi hopes to provide swimming gear to all they young women who want to learn to swim.
Barack Obama, during his recent visit to Kenya, said “If you want your country to grow and succeed, you have to empower your women.” The Bright Girls school mission is to, “empower girls to face the challenges of the world.” The International School of Kenya is supporting Muslim girls’ education, inspiring the girls to feel their importance and contribution is necessary to this world.
Pierina Redler is Director of Service Learning at the International School of Kenya.

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