Community Celebrates Refurbishment of Kenyan Girls' School
Members of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa joined with parents, teachers and community leaders June 11, 2008, to celebrate the dedication of the recently-renovated Lamu Girls' Secondary School.
"The new parts of our school are beautiful," said Madame Merry Makulwa, the school's principal. "Before, we had leaky roofs, no lights and drafty classrooms. Now we have new floors and ceilings, solid doors, new windows and even fans."
According to Makulwa, registration numbers have increased each year since she started with the school in 2000. As the only girl's school in the region, it could not accommodate the soaring number of applicants. The refurbishment allows more students in the area to receive an education.
"When I first started here, we had about 150 girls in our school," Makulwa said. "Now, we have more than 460 students and we expect to receive more in January."
The school brings in girls between 14 and 19 years old from across the region. Due to the school's remote location on Lamu Island, accessible to the larger islands only by ferry, many students board at the school during the academic term.
Fathima Ahmed, an 18-year-old student at the school, said, "We are very thankful the soldiers are helping us."
A computer room was included as part of the school's refurbishment project, to help the girls acquire typing and computer skills and increase their chances of being accepted into universities.
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Matt Hilton said this project has been rewarding for his team. "Knowing that we're making a difference in their lives is incredible," he said. "These girls are so eager to learn, and knowing that we can help with that is very satisfying."