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Moms Make Mark at Kenyan Schools

A teenage girl in Rongai, Kenya, flips open a school book and reads along while her teacher talks about computers. Later, she discusses concepts such as democracy with her peers and learns about applied mathematics and natural science. For years, Kenyan girls had limited access to secondary education. But that is changing, thanks to the efforts of groups such as the Vanessa Grant Trust .

In July, Weston residents Hermione Gluck and Mary Asphar visited the four schools that the trust operates in Kenya. Gluck's uncle, Hamish Grant, founded the nonprofit to honor his late wife, Vanessa.

"I was amazed at how welcoming and gracious the kids were, and how eager they are to learn," Gluck said. "Most kids [in the U.S.] complain about school. But over there, education is so important to them. To see the difference was definitely interesting."

Gluck and Asphar toured the schools and delivered several duffle bags full of soccer balls, donated by the Weston U13 Girls Soccer Team.

Gluck's family has been connected to this East African community for nearly a century. "My maternal grandparents were colonists who migrated from Scotland in 1912 to become tea farmers and raise their family," Gluck said in an email.

Next summer, Gluck is taking her family to Kenya for the first time. "I think they're excited," she said of her three daughters who attend Weston schools. Her eldest has expressed interest in teaching in Kenya when she graduates from high school.

Situated on about 15 acres, the Vanessa Grant Girls College is an elite, four-year secondary boarding school for girls. About 80 girls are enrolled, and by 2012, the college will be home to 360 full-time students.

"All materials and construction are sourced locally to encourage growth of the surrounding community," Gluck said. "One hundred percent of all donations to the VGT go directly to the schools."

For more information or to donate, the website at www.VanessaGrantTrust.org .

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