Author Archives: lriemer

About lriemer

Native to Austin, Loren Riemer is pursuing her Masters of Global Policy Studies with an emphasis on International Development at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Upon completion of her University of Texas undergraduate degrees in government and journalism in 2009, Loren traveled to Kenya where she lived in an orphanage and taught primary school. This experience led to Loren’s interest in the Kenyan education system, specifically, female access to education in developing countries. In the summer of 2010, Loren co-founded a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Kenya in an attempt to address this issue. She hopes her studies will further her knowledge of NGO management, education reform, and international development strategy.

Ridiculed Responsibility

Jambo!

I’ve enjoyed a highly productive week here in Kenya. The majority of this week’s time was spent in meetings with partner organizations and KIDS’ board members.

One of my board members, Yvonne, shared a story with me about a girl attending one of the primary schools in Kajiado that is too heartbreaking not to share.

Charity, 18, was raped by a cousin almost five years ago. She now has a four-year-old daughter who is being raised by a variety of relatives. Ridiculed for having a child while unmarried, regardless of the circumstances, and refusing to accept an arranged marriage with a man then three times her age, Charity found herself outcast from her family.

She now lives with Yvonne’s mother, who encouraged her to return to school. Given Charity’s skill level, she was placed in Class 2 upon her return to school. Though embarrassed to attend class with seven and eight-year-olds, Charity has persevered and is close to completing Class 4 this year. Unfortunately, her family is unsupportive of her return to school and speak critically of her in front of her young daughter.

When you ask the young daughter about her mother she scorns, “My mother is 18. She had me at only 14 years and now she’s only in Class 4 with the babies at the same school as me.”

In an attempt to take responsibility and create opportunities for a better life for her and her daughter, Charity meets ridicule at every turn. She cleans houses to earn money for her daughter and both of their school expenses in addition to attending class Monday-Friday.

These are the young women we’re trying to reach and encourage. What a lonely journey when even your own daughter scorns you. These girls should earn respect, not ridicule, for their attempt at taking responsibility for their own futures.

Karibu Kenya!

Greetings!

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work in the most amazing country in the world this summer – Kenya.

Kenya holds a special place in my heart and there are so many individuals I am excited to reconnect with on my third trip to this amazing place.

This summer, I will fill the role of implementation/development officer for KIDS (Kenyan Improvement and Development Society). This is a continuation of the work I started in early 2010 when I assisted with the founding of this organization. KIDS’ focus is to improve access to education in rural Kenyan communities, focusing especially on girls’ access to secondary education through the provision and implementation of scholarships, sponsorships, English immersion programs, tutoring, sports clinics, academic competitions, teacher incentives, life skills courses, adult resource classes and vocational training.

As implementation/development officer, my responsibilities will cover a broad scope of tasks. Since this organization is currently in its formative stages, my duties will be shaped around conditions on the ground, progress made with governing entities, and project funding made available.

I will attend meetings with the Kenyan NGO Board on behalf of KIDS and set up bank accounts and bookkeeping systems for KIDS. I will help determine the first stages in working toward the goal of improving access to education in rural communities by initiating community forums and meeting with school officials, parents, and students. Once these needs are assessed, I will conduct interviews and hire the appropriate contractors needed to help achieve these goals.

It will be my responsibility to create a “blueprint” for KIDS’ short-term and long-term implementation needs, focusing on tutoring in English, providing books, uniforms, school supplies, providing grants to families allowing their children to attend school on a regular basis, facilitating sports clinics, implementing health and life skills courses, and crating the provision of necessities such as feminine hygiene products and daily school lunches.

To achieve this, I will need to create documentation regarding all students in the program, including number of individuals in family, age, residence, grade level, test scores, medical history, etc. These documents will be useful for charting progress and administering aid, and will be the basic research supplement used by KIDS.

Leading up to this point, I have been working closely with an American lawyer who is assisting me in obtaining 501(c)3 (tax exempt) status here in the United States. We recently discovered that I will have to create a secondary, U.S., “partner” organization to obtain this status which will be vital for the organization’s future fundraising capacity.

Kenya is full of opportunity and I am amazed at the ingenuity and fortitude of so many of its young women. I look forward this summer to making small steps toward progress in access to education for these amazing girls.

Asante Sana (“thank you”) for your support!