Jecinta, An Inspiration
~ August 30, 2011 ~
You may remember, in the last chapter of Saved by a Poem, a girl named Jecinta challenged me to recite a poem when I was paralysed with shyness on my first day at the V-Day Safe House in Kenya. The experience of speaking Mary Oliver’s “The Journey” to a group of Maasai girls who had fled their families and communities to “save the only life [they could] save” remains one of the most powerful moments of my life. In gratitude for the gift Jecinta gave me that day, I’ve been raising funds to put her through business school for the last two years. Many of you have contributed.
This July I visited Jecinta in Nakuru, where she is a student at the Kenya Institute of Management. What a transformation! The girl I left three years ago has become a shining woman. Moving to Nakuru by herself, finding her own school and lodging, negotiating the big city and the finances of living there — all of this has been a sort of initiation for Jecinta, who grew up in Mukilit, a rural area of the Rift Valley where she lived with her parents and 9 brothers and sisters in a manyatta, a house made of mud, dung and sticks before moving to the V-Day Safe House in Narok.
The culmination of our time together occured when her mother surprised us by traveling on foot and matatu for 6 hours through the rain to meet and thank me. She had rarely left Mukilit, and had never seen where her daughter was living and going to school.
Later, Jecinta and I sat down and spoke about her life, her hopes and dreams, and her gratitude for all of you who have supported her. To view the video of our conversation, click here.
Jecinta will be the first young woman in her village to be educated beyond high school. Already she is an inspiration to other girls and women in her tribe, many of whom undergo FGM and are married as teens or younger to much older men. Jecinta is changing her culture by making her own choices and living her dreams. If you would like to help me support Jecinta’s education, please contact me. Even a small amount goes a long way.