Remembering the girl she was, Victoria mentors students at Mugoiri Girls’ High to deal with transitions and life challenges of being a girl.
By Ján Michalko
Initially published on inhiveglobal.org
Victoria Kamau is the chairperson of the Mugoiri Old Girls Association (MOGA). Our Lady of Consolata Mugoiri Girls High School is a national public boarding school not too far from Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi, where Victoria’s mother wanted to study herself. While she was unable to do so, she was very keen to send her daughter there, although Victoria felt perfectly happy in her day school in Nairobi.
Boarding schools in Kenya are highly regarded by many parents seeking to afford their children the best chance for success, but Victoria did not find the transition into her new school either wanted or easy. Despite the great reputation of Mugoiri Girls High School, Faith admits she was probably fighting with depression when she was there.
“Now, years later, when I look back at the time, I began to wish I had somebody who would have mentored me to come out of the depression and focus on my studies.”
Victoria is now a mentor to girls in her alma mater, an opportunity she wished she was afforded when she was a student.
“Looking back and seeing the girl I was then, I desire to go back and reach out to somebody who is going through depression as I did then or any other difficulty.”
Victoria is very well placed to mentor young women, as in her professional life, she works for an NGO called Kickstart Kids International that supports children in the care system. Together with her colleagues, they advise organisations on how to transform childcare from the institutional format alternative care mechanisms such as kinship care, which seeks to avoid children’s separation from their families and long term institutionalization.
When Victoria was at school, there were no visits from alumni, although the alumni association was officially registered and launched in the 1990s, Victoria and her fellow alumni learnt years later, when they were gearing up to launch the association.
Her re-engagement with the school came on the back of a social media call to fundraise tuition fee for a Mugoiri student.
“I took up the issue and I rallied a few of my old friends from the school and we raised the money to send her to school.”
But providing the fees was not enough, Victoria and her friends wanted to do more. Rallied by the principal, Victoria took immediate action. She brought together alumni and formed a steering committee to celebrate the schools 80th anniversary to fundraise for the school. They raised enough money to buy eight cookers for the school Home Science lab.
The journey to form the association, however, took an unexpected delay, as the new committee had to find the original founding members. Without any social media presence or up to date contact details, finding them and the paperwork was a challenge, which took some time. One alumnus in the new steering committee traced the three original officials to revive the association.
This experience taught Victoria an important lesson to manage the association better.
“We are very careful to make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes. One of the things that caused that dormancy is not involving the school more in the activities of the association. We have the principal sitting as one of the committee members and we also maintain a physical file with the records at the school as well.”
Looking into the future, MOGA has grand plans in store. From updating the constitution and growing its membership, registering a Savings & Credit Cooperative, build on the achievements and successes in the mentorship programme and bursary fund which now has USD 120,000 to cater for scholarships to needy students.