Communicating hasn’t always been one of David’s strengths. A Class 7 student from Kajiado County, he lives with his parents and six younger siblings in a village 12 kilometers from Bissil town. To support the family, his parents go to town twice a week—sometimes more—to sell household goods like cups and plates at the market. Their shop remains busy until night, so they have to stay late and then spend the night in town.
When his parents weren’t around, David used to try preparing food for his siblings, but most days his parents left them with just bread and milk. Some nights they went to sleep hungry. Although David knew his parents were working to support the family, he felt increasingly frustrated by how much time they spent away from home. Because he didn’t know how to talk to his parents about how he felt, David started taking out his frustration on his teachers and classmates.
One Monday, David’s teacher greeted the class, and then asked David why his hair was uncombed and his uniform was torn and dirty. When he didn’t respond, she told him to go to the head teacher’s office. He stayed in his seat. His teacher walked over to try to physically remove him from the classroom, and David pulled out a knife. Another teacher heard the commotion and came to take the knife before anyone got hurt. David was told to report to school the next day with his parents.
When he and his parents arrived at school the next day, they talked with the head teacher, deputy head teacher and classroom teacher for hours about what could be done to give David the support he needed to succeed in school. It was one of his first opportunities to explain to his parents how he felt about the amount of time they spent away from home.
The teachers had an idea.
Girl Child Network had recently come to the school to establish a Rights of the Child Club, where students were learning about their rights and how to advocate for themselves. The teachers thought David could benefit from the trainings. They were especially hoping that he would learn some healthier and more productive ways of communicating his feelings.
They were right.
Girl Child Network officers taught David and his classmates about their rights and their responsibilities as children. He realized that he had a right to express his frustration, but a responsibility to do it in a way that didn’t hurt anyone around him. After a few weeks, David shared, “The club trainings enabled me to know my rights as a child. I learned to speak my mind whenever I feel hurt.”
This year, David was elected to be the vice chairperson of his Rights of the Child Club. Students like listening to his ideas; they say he makes a lot of sense. He still makes a lot of trips to the head teacher’s office, but for a different reason: he is now responsible for communication between the club and the school’s administration. Thanks to the training he got from Girl Child Network, he can now advocate for his own rights and the rights of others.
And David’s commitment to helping others doesn’t end there. He now proudly tells people, “I will become a teacher after school so that I may also change a child’s life.”