With limited e-mail access in the rural areas of Kenya, I have been communicating with the girls at Graceland through letters. Recently, I printed off many of the photographs the students took last July during our classes together, and sent them to Nyeri along with additional camera supplies. Enclosed in the package was a small photo album I put together for Zipporah to bring home of photos I had taken of her family during our lunch in Maragima. I don’t know if they had any recent photographic record of their lives, but am glad to say that they do now.
In addition, I received a detailed update on Zipporah and the other Graceland Girls from Grace Wachira, the daughter of the school’s founder and granddaughter to the school’s namesake. Grace is responsible for handling admission interviews for Kenyan girls hoping for a chance to attend high school, and is currently visiting the U.S. She informs us that everyone is doing well. Bethany and Nacerian are still thriving at Graceland, now moving into their third and fourth year respectively.
The Form 4 (senior) girls we taught last summer scored a B- average on the national exam. Zipporah scored a B+, making her eligible to attend university if she is accepted, and to receive government funds if any are available, but of course space and funds are limited.
Even upon acceptance, there is a backlog at the universities, which forces students to wait up to two years after high school to begin higher education. Many return home, get married and start a family during this time, and as a result do not continue with their schooling.
We are pleased to hear that, while awaiting word regarding her acceptance into university, Zipporah has returned to the Graceland School as a tutor to the undergraduates. In exchange, she is provided room and board at her alma mater and given a stipend.
In this sense, Zipporah is lucky. She is mature beyond her years, with a determined spirit that has already carried her farther than her parents before her. We send our congratulations to Zipporah and the other Form 4 girls for completing secondary school – onward!