In May, Dow and WE, international development charity and youth empowerment movement, announced the winners of the WE Are Innovators Challenge for the 2018-2019 school year. Twenty-eight student winners and their teachers were awarded the opportunity to go on a culturally immersive ME to WE service-learning trip to Kenya.
Among them is Tionna Thompson, the first student at SAY Play to accept the challenge and submit a sustainability project proposing that vacated homes in Detroit be turned into neighborhood greenhouses. WE Are Innovators Challenge gives students the opportunity to identify, innovate and develop solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Learn more about Tionna’s project and her reaction upon hearing the news here. She was accompanied by Dana Davidson, Co-Executive Director of SAY Play
The service learning trip, which took place at the end of June into July, was an opportunity to have hands-on volunteer experience with the communities of Maasai.
Follow their journey with these photos.
Departures, Arrivals & New Friends
WE Bogani Campus
At the WE Bogani campus a group of dynamic women taught the the history and future of entrepreneurial empowerment for women through beading and more.
WE is in the process of extending the buildings on its first college campus. We worked on creating the foundation of the new buildings. Tionna transported stones and gravel to the site building foundation from the cement mixer you see and Dana transported stones in another area in creating another building’s foundation on the same site.
Tionna and Dana spent a wonderful day in open vehicles driving bumpily along the a huge Kenyan animal preserve looking for and discovering beautiful wild creatures. No fences, no gates – just vast sky, trees, grass, shrubs, water and animals. It was exhilarating and inspiring. At lunch time they picnicked on a ledge of earth above a waterway where hippopotamus and an alligator bathed. Extraordinary!
WE Girls Kisaruni Boarding High School & Elementary School
The WE cohort constructed the foundation of the school’s future cookhouse during their stay. All of the students and educators were deeply moved to have the opportunity to do this work and be a small part of empowering the children and families of this wonderful community. Mamas (like mothers) from the community walk over a mile to bring water to the students throughout the day and they prepare their meals during the school day.
Most of the young women plan a career in STEM areas such as medicine, engineering, and mathematics. During ninth and tenth grade every young woman takes four science courses a year. We were given an extensive tour of the facility by students and a teacher.
WE Baraka Hospital
During an extensive tour of the WE Baraka Hospital, its chief doctor and administrator gave them an excellent lecture on the variety of services the facility provides and the dramatic impact the hospital has on local and distant communities. This hospital sits directly adjacent to the WE boarding high school for young ladies.
WE Oleleshwa Farm
WE partners with Kenyan farmers and community members to nurture a farm that serves as a lab, a food source, and an education center. Kenyan farmers now lead the farm and the education that it provides surrounding communities to discover and spread sustainable farming and gardening methods. All of the food that the WE cohort enjoy during their stay was produced from this farm.