WISER holistically improves health and educational outcomes for girls, particularly those orphaned by AIDS. We also work with our community to change how girls are valued and host programs that have made WISER into a center for community activity.
The WISER School
The WISER Secondary School for girls takes a holistic approach to the boarding school environment. Unlike other schools in the area, WISER provides everything a girl needs to be successful — clothes, books, safe housing, female role models, leadership training, clean drinking water, healthy food, mosquito nets, HIV education, reproductive health education, psycho-social support, medical care and essential medicines.
WISER is also committed to the highest quality of education by providing engaged and supportive teachers and administrators who live on campus. These role models spend time during the evenings and on weekends empowering girls through recreational and competitive athletics, social and academic clubs, psychological support and counseling, tutoring, and science and math competitions. WISER is committed to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education for girls, and our students and are currently engaging in regional competitions like the Kenya Science Congress.
In their spare time, the WISER girls gain leadership skills through planning and implementing group activities such as public performances, Monday and Friday assemblies, peer counseling, and church services. In addition, visitors from around the world allow for intercultural exchange and learning. For example, each summer, students from Duke University visit for eight weeks to conduct research, spend time learning from the girls, and implement programs in the community. This approach is currently being expanded to include high school students and teachers from other countries.
Sexual Reproductive Health and Psychological Support
The WISER girls elect peer counselors that receive the same training as teachers on sexual reproductive health. These peer counselors lead small groups of WISER girls organized as Houses of Wisdom. The Houses of Wisdom meet weekly to discuss sexual reproductive health and psychological or social issues facing the girls. The WISER girls also meet as an entire group twice a month to discuss sexual reproductive health issues with a teacher present to help guide conversation. Teachers and administrators are assigned as mentors to the Houses of Wisdom and also to the different graduating classes in order to provide additional emotional support.
Annual Health Fair
Each year, WISER brings ear, eye, and gynecological healthcare providers to Muhuru Bay who offer free screenings to community members.
To reduce the risk of HIV, WISER has partnered with Duke University to create the READY Program, which improves family communication skills and interactions to promote healthier lifestyles and mental well-being. The READY Program is implemented by community members at local churches in the form of seminars and interactive skits. The READY program has reduced HIV risk factors for youth, improved family interaction strategies about sex, reduced belief in myths about HIV, and altered family financial decisions to better support their children.
Few households in Muhuru Bay have latrines and water is frequently contaminated with fecal matter, leading to outbreaks of typhoid. In partnership with UNICEF-WASH and the Government of Kenya, WISER maintains a clean water system that provides potable water to 5,000 members of community via a series of water dispensing kiosks. One such kiosk sits at the Ministry of Health clinic, which, prior to WISER, did not have clean water to use in providing patient care. The community water kiosks are run and managed by women that have been widowed by HIV/AIDS, providing much needed employment for hardworking women that have lost a source of income.
Many children in Muhuru Bay come to school hungry. Besides not having enough food, they are malnourished from eating a limited diet that doesn’t allow them to thrive. WISER’s newest endeavor is to improve nutrition for students in the primary schools by identifying nutritional deficiencies and developing school gardens to improve health and educational outcomes. WISER's campus is home to a large community garden maintained by the WISER Girls, who use the garden for food and for hands-on activities in their agriculture and biology classes.