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Inspirational Tuesday: Shining Hope

July 20, 2010

Last night at the 2010 Do Something Awards, 23-year-old Jessica Posner won $100,000 to continue and expand her amazing work in Kenya.

When she went to Kenya at age 20, Jessica witnessed the extreme poverty in Kibera, the country’s largest slum. 1.5 million people live in this area the size of Central Park with no clean water, no electricity, and no schools.

In Kibera, 66% of girls routinely trade sex for food by the age of 16. Many begin as early as six years old. Only 8% of all girls in Kibera ever have the chance to go to school.

In 2009, Jessica co-founded (with Kennedy Obede, the first person to leave Kibera and attend a four-year accredited college) the Shining Hope for Communities, a non-profit that builds tuition-free girls schools. In founding the Kibera School for Girls in 2009, they built the first free school and the only school for girls in Kibera. The school has already helped over 5,700 residents gain education and employment.

Shining Hope for Communities strives to change the patterns of gender inequity and poverty in Kibera. They “combat intergenerational cycles of poverty and gender inequality by linking tuition-free schools for girls to essential social services in Kenya’s Kibera slum through a holistic, community-driven approach. By concretely linking essential health and economic services to a school for girls, it demonstrates that benefiting women benefits the whole community, cultivating a community ethos that makes women respected members of society.”

Together, with the local people, the group is working to build a community center that will provide social services to the entire Kibera community. The $100,000 will go a long way toward creating even more change.

The progress so far is a shining hope for education and social reform in Kenya.

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