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Greenwich Native Brings iPads to Kenyan Girls

GREENWICH, Conn. – Greenwich Academy graduate Megan White Mukuria, who joined forces with two other Greenwich women to bring affordable sanitary pads and health education to Kenyan girls living on the streets, is now holding a drive to buy iPads for schools in Nairobi.

“Greenwich Academy is doing all this incredible stuff with the iPads, and I took that idea of what we can learn from schools in Greenwich that we can translate to help girls in Nairobi,” said Mukuria, who began the project with Kimberly Behrman and Perrin Ireland of Greenwich.

American Friends of ZanaAfrica are hosting the drive for the EmpowerNet Clubs run by Zana Africa Group in Nairobi, Kenya. ZanaAfrica is a nonprofit public charity founded in 2007 by Mukuria, who originally visited the area while at Harvard.

Its mission is to break the cycle of poverty by equipping the girls with education and financial freedom through two basic ideas: health education and the delivery of sanitary pads.

“The pads plus health education really turns the table for girls to stay in school, and it’s a shockingly simple thing,” said Mukuria. “It’s the difference between a girl dropping out at age 16 to get married and a girl staying in school to earn 20 percent more than her counterparts.”

Mukuria began EmpowerNet Clubs for the girls to learn to navigate the Internet through mobile phones and laptops in an area of Kenya that she calls an “epicenter of innovation.” The nonprofit will bring the iPads to weekly after-school clubs at schools across the slum of Kibera, where girls learn about health education, positive decision making and financial management.

“There’s so much of a sad focus on Africa, and anyone could write sob story after sob story, but we’re turning that idea on its head and saying there’s incredible innovation in Africa,” said Mukuria.

The girls will learn to draw on iPads using the Brushes application as the design team for an animated video shows the impact of ZanaAfrica’s work. The Nashville-based visual learning company Alphachimp Studio is collaborating to host art workshops so the girls’ designs will provide inspiration for the video, which will be shared via social media outlets March 1.

“We want to the girls to be telling our story themselves,” said Mukuria. “My underlying ethos is when we all come together as equals, we can find solutions that are better and more lasting than anything we can find on our own.”

Gently used or new iPads can be donated to American Friends of ZanaAfrica for a tax deduction. Interested donors should contact Kimberly@zanaafrica.org for the U.S. address to which iPads can be sent. All iPads must be received by Feb. 2 to be used in the animation workshops.

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