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Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Land With No School Books

Last night I attended a unique event - "WEPA - Women Empowering Africa" -- a Houston fundraiser to build a library for a school (Ngege) in Kenya. The guest of honor was Mrs. Odinga, an articulate lady who heads the Kenya League of Women Voters and may be the next Kenya first lady after elections are held next year. WEPA is the Swahili word for "excellence."

The video of the Ngege school shows a couple very bare buildings next to a rough narrow road isolated in the middle of hills 3 miles from Lake Victoria, housing kids in faded blue and white uniforms sitting with little more than an old blackboard and a few sheets of paper.

They had no books. Yet they have a tremendous desire to learn. This is something Americans of all kinds should support. This is a worldwide problem from Africa to Pakistan.

One statement from a speaker in the 5 hour dinner (the agenda ended at 12:30 a.m.) that stuck me the most: "The one policy that had the most positive impact in improving conditions and cutting crime, etc. was the education of girls."

Girls as young as 12 are still being put into forced marriages, face painful and damaging "female circumcision" and have even been subject to sex as virgins by men who thought having sex with a virgin would cure their AIDS. Most girls drop out of school under these conditions.

The WEPA women are working to stop this. They need your support. Their website is

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