Connecting for a cause – the best kind of learning

For the past four years, as part of our Global Girl program, Toorak College has been connected to Daraja Academy. Daraja is a girl’s school in Kenya providing free education to impoverished girls who would not have access to a secondary education any other way. Our conduit for this connection is Mark Lukach, a former teacher who has been involved with Daraja since its inception. Mark has been skyping into our school from San Francisco, helping our students to understand the purpose of Daraja and the critical difference an educated girl can make to the community she lives in. Mark’s energy crosses our Internet connection, and enthuses our students every year.

Over this four year period, our Year 9 students have raised money to support the running of Daraja Academy by holding ‘Sleepout for Schools’ events. The girls stay overnight at school, and try and incorporate an element of fundraising into the night’s activities.

This year has been a very special ‘Sleepout for Schools’ event. An event is held in San Francisco called the Bay to Breakers. It’s a 12 km fun run, and for the past couple of years a team has run in this event raising sponsorship for Daraja Academy. At Daraja, the girls attending the school run a 12km course at the same time. This year, Toorak College joined the cause and our students began their Sleepout for Schools event with a laps of our oval. We had decided to run in teams to share the load of the 12km amongst groups of girls, but one of our very fit students, Julia, really threw herself into the event and ran the entire 12km after school. She was absolutely inspiring, and managed to raise a significant amount of money thanks to her dedication. Ruby, one of our students, designed a logo for the event, and we made badges that the girls wore during the night. I’m sure we will see them pinned on their school blazers throughout the year.

Jason Doherty, the founder of Daraja Academy, recorded a video thanking our girls for their ongoing support.

Like Jason says in the video, the girl’s efforts were featured on the Daraja Academy site, and we shared this with our students in the days leading up to the event. The actual event was a great success, with most of our Yr 9 students participating and raising money for Daraja in the process. What made the event really special, was the fact that we knew the money we raised would be going to support the tuition for Lilian, a student at Daraja Academy. Our aim was to try to raise $2,400.00, the cost of a year’s tuition. To date, our students have raised $2,040.00, with plans to find ways to raise the extra $460.00 that will get us to the total Lilian needs for a year’s education. Our students know only too well how fortunate they are to have access to a good education, and the opportunities they will have as a result of this. It’s been truly rewarding for all of us at the school to see our students dedicated to a cause, knowing they are making an impact on a young girl’s life. This is the kind of learning you don’t get from textbooks -it’s real life connection with a cause in mind.

Daraja Academy made a video thanking people for the efforts they went to to support their girls.Take a look at these beautiful girls who now have an opportunity to education thanks to Daraja.

It’s been so rewarding having our Yr 9 students work for this cause over the last four years. Every year I hear girls tell me how meaningful it is to do something when they know where the money is headed. This cause helps them see the world differently, and goes a long way towards developing empathy, something we want our students to value.

Here are some pics from our run.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could extend the participation rates for next year, and have other schools join in to support the cause at the same time? Any takers? You’ll be better for it, if you do. I know that our students are feeling the rewards that come from giving to others and making some sort of positive difference.

*Special thanks once again to Mark Lukach, who gives so freely of his time to our girls and makes the event come alive for them. Mark usually skypes with us on the night of the sleepover as well, but this year, he had to forfeit. And for good reason. Mark and Guilia’s first child, Jonas, was born the previous night. Congratulations to you both. Toorak College girls send warm wishes your way. 🙂

3 Replies to “Connecting for a cause – the best kind of learning”

  1. Hi Jenny,

    Just wanted to say how stoked I am that your relationship with Daraja has grown so much. It is these long term connections that prove the most powerful for both parities involved. I hope someday some of your girls can go to Daraja and experience the amazing campus and the people who work and live there.

    Tell your students thank you for the support of Daraja. I am off to Singapore next year and hope that I ca begin a long term connection to Daraja from there. So we can be in touch about sharing ideas and experiences.

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