Garissa: Loss and Transition


A message of sadness and of hope from Women and Girls Lead Global in Kenya:

We learned over the Easter weekend that 148 women and men had their lives cruelly cut short at the hands of terrorists. At the Women in the Red campaign, we have had a chance to hear the exceptional stories of leaders across Kenya who are taking action and calling their communities to greater engagement in the issues that matter the most to them. In working with partners from across the country, we see the tremendous potential of stories that can inspire people inside their communities. This is why the loss of these bright people from across Kenya is a true robbery of Kenya’s – and Africa’s – best hope for building stronger societies.

Garissa is approximately 365 Kilometres away from Nairobi, yet the effects of the horror felt as close to us as if it were next door. It has been hard to re-imagine that the dreaded attacks are now here with us. The families of the students come from every walk of life, and for those who lost their lives, the wait for their identification at a Nairobi morgue seems endless. In true form, Kenyans have come together to support the families directly affected by donating to a blood drive in the city’s capital centre, Nairobi. Many have hosted vigils and prayer services, and still others have provided daily refreshments to the anxiously awaiting families.

Our goal is to identify places where women and girls can participate in their community and opportunities for these community leaders to amplify their voices. As we proceed in guarding ourselves against the dreaded attacks, and mitigate the effects of the Garissa attack, which is the worst since the 1998 Nairobi US Embassy bombing – we note the need for extreme courage, speaking truth to power, empowerment of marginalized groups, and other intrinsic leadership qualities in the days to come.

We stand together with the Garissa attack victims, with deep condolences to the families of those who perished, and wishes for recovery for those who barely escaped with injuries. We are #OneKenya.

For those who wish to provide support, please note that the Kenya Red Cross is the main connection to the Garissa victims, and their families.


Capturing the Essence of WGLG

For the past year, Women and Girls Lead Global has been screening films for communities of farmers, educators, politicians and schoolchildren across the five countries where we work – Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Peru and Jordan.  For many audience members, it’s the first time they’ve seen films about real girls and women triumphing over adversity.  It’s also often the first time they’ve had a chance to discuss issues like child marriage and public safety for girls and women.

Below, we’ve compiled some of our favorite audience responses from our first season of Women of the World films. Their comments suggest the very idea that inspired WGLG: that documentary film has the power to move, inspire and empower people, and to begin the process of catalyzing change.

Six Days

Three women. Three wars. One dream. A universal story of women’s courage and survival in the aftermath of war.

Lanja is a journalist in Iraq, fearlessly giving refuge and voice to women beaten, burnt and threatened to death by their own families. Maia fights for women’s sexual rights in the breakaway region Abkhazia, Georgia and battles archaic customs like “bride kidnapping.” Nelly runs a women’s cooperative in the slums of Monrovia, Liberia, empowering women through education and hands-on ways to make money for their families.

While thousands of miles apart, the women are united by similar challenges to fulfilling their shared dream of a better life.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the astonishing story of the Liberian women who took on the warlords and regime of dictator Charles Taylor in the midst of a brutal civil war, and won a once unimaginable peace for their shattered country in 2003. As the rebel noose tightened around the capital city of Monrovia, thousands of women – ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim – formed a thin but unshakeable line between the opposing forces. Continue reading

Pushing The Elephant

In the late 1990s, Rose Mapendo was imprisoned with her family during violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her harrowing experience included the nighttime arrest of her entire family by government agents, the execution of her husband, the birth of their twin sons in prison, and grim negotiations with prison guards to save the lives of her children. She emerged advocating forgiveness and reconciliation. In a country where ethnic violence has created seemingly irreparable rifts among Tutsis, Hutus, and other Congolese, this remarkable woman is a vital voice in her beleaguered nation’s search for peace. Now, Rose is confronted with teaching one of her most recalcitrant students how to forgive  Nangabire, the daughter who remained behind. Continue reading