As we wrap up this month dedicated to inspiring women we are excited for you to meet Warucu Kijuu. Warucu is the Executive Director in Kenya of Flying Kites and serves as the Head of Flying Kites Academy! Warucu leads with a commitment to creating a child-centered learning environment that emphasizes critical thinking and creativity. She believes that investing in teachers and parents is the most important way to improve student outcomes and she will do whatever it takes to help both her teachers and students succeed. When we visited Flying Kites Academy in March we got to see Warucu in action! The respect and admiration the students at Flying Kites have for Warucu was instantly evident! Warucu, thank you for being a leader, role model and inspiration to so many people in rural Kenya and beyond (including us)!
1. Tell us about yourself!
I was born and bred in Nairobi and I did most of my schooling in Kenya. I must admit I went to good schools and I believe the quality of education I got is what has made me who I am today.
I have four siblings and I am the eldest. I am a single mum of three children, two girls and one boy ranging from the ages of 29 to 22. I became a teacher in 1987 and I have been in the business of education for more than thirty years.
I have taught both secondary and primary schools and I am also a qualified counselling psychologist.
Most of my teaching has been in private international schools and after twenty years of service in these schools, I felt I needed a change. I wanted to start working with less resourced schools and share the skills I had been fortunate enough to gain in my previous institutions and this is how I found myself working with Flying Kites Leadership Academy and later branching out to other public schools in the same region.
2. How has education impacted your life?
Is there a specific memory and/or person that influenced you? I love new knowledge and some of my most fun times was being in a learning environment. Education has truly opened the world for me. I am a curious person and being literate has allowed me to explore, reflect and most of all make judgments from my own reasoning and deductions.
My mother and maternal grandfather were huge advocates for education. My grandfather really believed in the girl child. In my grandfather’s and mother’s home we always felt equal. The two gave us tasks according to age and never according to gender. We were all made to feel important and that our education mattered.
3. What is your hope for girls around the world?
My hope for the girls around is to get over the stereotype that it is a man’s world. We are not in a competition, the only competitor is self. The race is only about you, and only you can make the decision first on how much you want it and how far you are willing to go for it.
4. What inspires you about Tailored for Education?
When I was in primary school if your uniform started thinning out and tears would appear it would be patched up. Sweaters were let to run and no replacements were made. It was very embarrassing and humiliating to go to school in such a state, especially since the patches were always at the back of the dress. I always remember the confidence I felt when I had a new clean uniform.
I have been inspired by the pride Tailored for Education is giving back to pupils who wear torn uniform because they don’t have a choice. Their work has left me speechless and has reaffirmed that there is a beautiful world out there. We just need to share it with others. Thank you Tailored for Education!
5. What advice that you would give your 12 year old self?
I would tell my 12 year old self. It is okay, it is well…walk tall, know you matter, smile, take one day at a time. It is a beautiful world and it is yours to explore. Nobody will stop you!