It is amazingly satisfying as a senior in MAPS to say that this year was a great success. Joy, Susan and I started out as daunted senior leaders this fall and quickly came to realize that we were capable of the responsibility with collaboration. Our first project as a team was to raise awareness about the shooting of Malala Yousafzai by creating visuals throughout the school. The presentation was very successful, and students stayed informed about this event that each of us found both disturbing and inspiring. Soon after, MAPS began fundraising. The juniors primarily took on this aspect of MAPS with some senior guidance, while we began our senior projects. Joy used her experience in MAPS to create a freshman seminar about the meaning of philanthropy, while Susan managed our finances and created a template to be used by other clubs and organizations to do the same.
Last spring, I met Megan White Mukuria at a party that was held at her friend’s New York City apartment for her organization, ZANA Africa. It was there that I learned about the issues that ZANA addresses. Two thirds of Kenyan girls will drop out of school before they are sixteen years old simply because of menstruation, which forces them to miss a week or more of school every month. Sanitary supplies are shipped from other countries, making them too expensive. With no solution, the girls fall behind and drop out of school, and without further education, it is difficult to find a job. Megan explained that ZANA’s goal was to produce sanitary supplies in Kenya with local materials so that shipping costs could be removed from the equation, providing employment opportunities for Kenyan women. Megan added that solving the other half of the problem involved providing sex education and psychological support for the girls attending the school that she worked with in Nairobi, and that they wanted to communicate with other girls. Hearing this, I volunteered MAPS for the job.
This winter, our group connected with Ms. Soh, ZANA’s Marketing Officer. We discussed the best approach to creating a comfortable relationship between our girls and the girls at the school in Kibera. We agreed to the best step to take first was to get to know them as well as we virtually could. Because the girls in Kibera break from school during the winter months, I used this time to strategize with Ms. Soh about the logistics of video exchanges. We found that DropBox was very easy to use, and we began “dropping” videos for our girls and their girls to watch. Getting to see what their lives and personalities are like has opened our eyes to just how similar we all are as girls.
Today, I talked with rising MAPS seniors Caroline, Evie, and Meagan. We brainstormed the different ways that they could approach this project as a group, and figured out the perfect solution. Evie used this year to work consistently with networking and communication, so we appointed her “Communications and Social Networking Officer”. As Caroline became accustomed to pooling information for MAPS to use for raising awareness, she will be communicating with the Miss Hall’s Health Center to gather useful information for answering questions about puberty and becoming a woman. Meagan proved to be quite iMovie-savvy, making her the perfect person to put together the videos. We were able to delegate the different aspects of the project perfectly, making its future very bright.
MAPS has taught me more than I could ever convey in a senior reflection. I have learned the true meaning of philanthropy and the importance of giving oneself and matured as an individual. I am excited for what my future holds at Lafayette College, and I cannot wait to utilize the tools that my experience with MAPS has given me.