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A letter from the Executive Director

Ten years ago, I stood on the grounds of Kitenga for the first time. The Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa (IHSA) told me of their vision to empower women through girls education. They had a mighty dream to create an extraordinary school for girls and have it be the vehicle to bypass the often formidable barriers between a girl and her future. On that August day in 2011 there were the beginnings of the school: a set of three classrooms and a dormitory foundation on a footprint of 1,000 rural acres. The Sisters asked us to join hands with them to help make the rest of the dream come true. The journey to get to today has been filled with challenges, joy, setbacks, and victories. It has led to a dream being realized as a community embraces alternative futures for their girls, ones not marked by female genital mutilation and bartered child marriage but by agency, opportunity, and ambitions to make their mark on the world. Kitenga students are crushing it.

On the following visit, I was walking with Sister Janepha when we met a village girl who wanted to tell us her story. She said she wanted to go to school but her father didn’t want to pay her school fees, he wanted to sell her into marriage for a cow. She asked Sister Janepha for help. Sadly, her story is but one that has been shared with me these past years. These stories remind me of the urgency of the problem we’re trying to solve, only worsened by the pandemic. Unfortunately, Kitenga Girls Secondary School wasn’t built in time for this girl, but it is for those following behind her—perhaps a sister, a neighbor, or a future daughter. 

It has been a remarkable decade and we have learned so much. As an organization, we are ready to build on those learnings and grow our allyship model so that even more girls have the chance of the life they deserve. Stay tuned.

GEC couldn’t have done this on our own. We have the deepest respect and gratitude for the IHSA community who have worked tirelessly on behalf of their community to make this happen. Our profound gratitude extends to our community of supporters, advocates, and mentors for being the wind in our sails. Kitenga is truly a product of communities connecting for the common good. Let’s keep it going. 

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Together, we can show the world that there’s nothing a girl can’t do.