Hazel and Melissa want to be interviewed together – it’s a twin thing they say. “We aren’t really twins but we like to do everything together, its more fun” laughs Hazel. Melissa is 16 years old, turning 17 this weekend, and Hazel is 17, with her 18th birthday at the end of the year. Both attend Malezi school and are in their final year.
“I’ve been part of Girl Power for five years” says Melissa. “One year and a few months for me” says Hazel.
“My favourite Girl Power experience was when we went to Kibera tennis courts and taught the girls how to play tennis. It was good. It felt good to be able to give out what I have been given by someone else” Melissa explains. Hazel’s favourite Girl Power experience is a really recent one, the painting of the Girl Power offices, “mine is the time we went to Kibera to paint the Girl Power offices, that was the most fun I have ever had in a long time! Even when we got rained on” she laughs. “It taught me a lot. It taught me that I am fortunate to be here and have a family who can help with my needs. Painting that office made me feel like I can help people and it’s a good feeling. I think the girls in Kibera will use that office, hopefully they love it!”
“I have learnt to become a leader” Melissa says. “Girl Power trains people to become women leaders. From where I come from, most women or girls are looked down upon, so it has taught me how to get back my self esteem and my morale and now I know that I can do some stuff that I never knew I could. Now I can talk in front of a lot of people and I am even happy to!”
“Mostly it has taught me how to be responsible” says Hazel, “because looking back, I was kind of reckless and it has taught me to be very responsible now. I feel like I have been given this role in life to help others now. Girl Power has also taught me to not mind what other people say about me – either the bad things or the good things. The only thing I should care about is what I think about myself and that has really lifted my self esteem. It has taught me to be thankful for what I have and what my parents are able to give me”.
“We’ve seen some of the younger girls in the dorm that have come from Kibera really benefit from Girl Power. When they came they didn’t know how to take care of themselves and be independent and stuff. They have joined Girl Power and now they are studying here and playing tennis. They have learnt how to take care of themselves, and they can now stand up for themselves against bullies” Melissa says. Hazel agrees. “Something I have noticed is that they felt like they weren’t worth enough to be part of part of Girl Power or Sadili, they didn’t really believe in themselves. Before we leave school we will make it our mission to make sure they keep on learning from Girl Power” exclaims Hazel. Sounds like a great mission!
Seeing as the end of school is fast approaching for these girls, they must be starting to think about what they will do after school. “I am not yet decided what I want to study when I finish school, but I would like to take music and maybe study law” says Hazel. “It will depend on grades for me. I would love to go to Italy and learn their language. I am fascinated by it”.
“Me, I’d like to hopefully play college Tennis and I also want to become an aeronautical engineer” Melissa explains as simply as if she said she would like a cup of tea. “I love physics and math. I’m Tanzanian and here on a scholarship so hopefully if I get good grades I can study abroad. I’d like to study in Canada because Kenya doesn’t have a strong aeronautical engineering program. Girl Power has helped me have the courage to pursue aeronautical engineering because it is not an easy degree. I have always wanted to do this but I have had second thoughts because it is going to be hard and I am a girl, but after Dr Liz told us in one of the Girl Power activities everything she had been through and she made it, then I knew I could do it too. She has been a good mentor”
Hazel sums it up perfectly. “I used to be a shy person and now I have more confidence to talk to people and to laugh. It has made me learn that I should be comfortable in my own skin and that I should be proud of myself”.
Written by Hannah Collins, volunteer at Girl Power
Approved by Dr Liz Odera, Director at Sadili Oval Sports Academy