Educate a Girl – Strengthen a Nation

by Kathy Karn

When women are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.  – Michelle Obama

“Winnie, I want to help girls with funds I’ve raised selling my book.”

“I know exactly what to do with the money,” replied Winnie.

In researching how to protect the elephants in my book I chose CHD Conservation Kenya, a grassroots organization that focuses on conservation education and awareness in the region. I realized it’s not enough to help the animals, we also need to help the people who co-exist with wildlife, so they feel empowered to participate in conservation.

COVID had a huge impact on access to education in Kenya. It’s difficult when any child’s education is interrupted. The impact on girls in rural areas has been devastating. When girls are out of school, they are expected to fetch water and gather firewood. When girls are out of school, they are at risk of being married off at a young age. When girls are out of school, their dreams of secondary and post-secondary education end. Currently, schools in the Amboseli region are closed until mid-January. The likelihood of girls completing their education is reduced every day they are out of the classroom.

CHD Conservation Kenya wants to ensure children who dream of a future in conservation are not left behind during this time of school closure. They designed a 3-day mentorship program for 30 students developed around life skills training, personal hygiene skills, reproductive health, interpersonal communication skills, introduction to the secondary school curriculum, environmental education films, nature walks, game drives in Amboseli National Park, tree nursery establishment, seed collection, and tree growing.

When Winnie and I talked last week, she described how her assistant prepared a budget that stretches their limited funds for a maximum return.

“We need to have the girls in residence for a fully immersive experience. It’s simply too difficult for them to attend the camp and travel home safely before dark. Our goal is to help them become advocates for conservation in their families and communities. Each student is given a seedling to plant in their schoolyard. In caring for their individual seedlings, the children teach others in their community about the value of trees to provide food, and shade, and improve the land degraded by overgrazing and drought.”

I’ve met many youths in rural Kenya eager for education. They know they are capable. They want to be part of the solution for climate change. They are the conservationists of tomorrow. Giving students a project with a purpose shows them there are people who believe in them and care about their future. There’s no better motivator.

Thanks to everyone who purchased my book we’ve raised enough money to fund the 3-day camp! On the final fund-raising sprint to the end of the year, I’m raffling off a large 17×22” black and white print of The Wisdom of Elephants.  

The winner will be announced on Dec. 21st, the longest night of the year and the turning point marking the return of the light. With the new year comes hope – hope for elephants and hope for those committed to protecting them. Small donations can make a difference in the lives of these children with big dreams. Purchase your tickets via the donation button in my online store: $5 for a chance to win or $20 for 5 chances etc. Free shipping is included in North America for the winner.

Good Luck and ASANTE SANA (MANY THANKS) to my subscribers!

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