- Maisie Schorr
Featuring Julia Alubala: Giving Girls the Wings to Fly
Teachers are a universal symbol of promise, fulfillment, and curiosity. This is especially true in an environment like Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. Julia Alubala, a beloved member of the Kiberan community, has served as the head of the curriculum for SHOFCO since 2009. She currently has an active role in both SHOFCO-operated schools in Kenya. Tr. Julia is in so many ways an embodiment of the spirit of Kibera—warm and welcoming. Joice Were, a student at the Loomis Chaffee School who grew up in Kibera, explained that Tr. Julia is easy to talk to, friendly, and just overall a really positive person. Joice said, “she treats all of the students [at KSG] as though they were her own children.” Julia Alubala is a mother of four herself and, at work and at home, makes sure to encourage communication and understanding. Tr. Julia not only teaches these skills to her own children, but also to all Kiberan youth that she teaches in school. Having a role model who is both encouraging and motherly as a teacher, like Julia Alubala, is crucial in an environment like Kibera, where violence and drug abuse runs rampant in youth. Because of drug circulation, the presence of violence, and a need to support their family, children often drop out of school. As education is a key component in breaking the cycle of poverty, Tr. Julia plays a crucial role in helping Kiberan youth realize their potential, preparing youth for higher education and jobs, as well as giving students hope and a drive to create a better future for themselves.
At one point, Julia Alubala was a Kindergarten teacher at KSG. Kieran School for Girls is a tuition-free school that provides a world-class education to girls in Kibera from Kindergarten to eighth grade. One of KGS’s founding goals is to create the next generation of leaders of Kenya and the world - this goal is possible with the hard work of those like Tr. Julia, who fosters and models curiosity, hope, and confidence. When Julia Alubala was a Kindergarden teacher at KSG, she wrote a poem called “Wings to Fly” for her students to perform in the provincial competition of the Kenyan National Poetry and Elocution Festival. One line from the poem reads, “Give us love, hope, education, and proper direction, and we’ll fly high like a butterfly.” This poem emphasizes how support from teachers like Alubala is essential for these girls’ future success, and the breaking of the poverty cycle in Kibera and around the globe. Julia Alubala’s positive attitude is a model to all teachers throughout the world, as she fills students with hope and confidence which fosters ambition, growth, and a willingness to chase dreams and shape their lives and community.