10 year-old Kenyan poet captivates the Women In The World Summit
Standing tall with a conviction that belies her age, 10-year-old Eunice Akoth delivered her heartfelt poem, My Dream, at the recent Women In The World Summit. Speaking confidently through her tears the pint-sized poet captured the strength and aspirations of children living in the poverty stricken slum Kibera.
It’s not where I am, but where I’m going that matters
My future has nothing to do with my past or present
The hard times I’ve had make me stronger and better
The inner courage within me, doesn’t throw it just whispers
And so I dream my dream!
Eunice is one of 180 girls whose lives are transformed by the Kibera School of Girls everyday. The brainchild of Kennedy Odede, founder of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), the school offers free primary education while simultaneously providing social services, clean water and advocating for women’s rights. At the heart of SHOFCO’s philosophy is the education of women for the empowerment of the community. The effects of poverty and neglect are profound for girls living in Kibera, where education is undervalued and inaccessible for many. Yet, studies have shown that educating a girl in places like Kibera means that she will earn more and invest 90% of her earnings in her family.
The ripple effect on the community drives SHOFCO to continue its work in creating future African leaders like Eunice. At the Summit in a panel with Lydia Polgreen of The New York Times, Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner Odede Eunice said she wrote the poem to encourage her peers. “Most of them [children in Kibera] have dreams but they don’t know how they can achieve their dreams. I had to sit down and write a poem that…that can inspire and tell them they have big dreams and they can achieve it.” Listening to her story and that of SHOFCO the possibilities are infinite for Eunice and optimistically, by extension, future generations of Kibera.
Written by Jaquelyne Kwenda