Deborah Gori | Because I am A Girl

Today, Twajivunia shines a light on Deborah Gori, popularly known as Dee Adelle, a fresh graduate of Moi University, a model, and founder of Because I am A Girl initiative in Kibera. Dee grew up in the Soweto area of Kibera slums and faced challenges that come with slum life. Currently, she gives back to the community that raised her through her initiative that empowers and supports school going children in Kibera. Dee believes that both genders should be involved in programs that support the girl child for a comprehensive understanding of issues and a supportive approach from all quarters.

(Amani Kibera is a Community Based Organization whose work we will `cover in detail next week).

Soweto area has transformed since the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP) started building sustainable houses in the Kibera Soweto East Zone. The gated flats are neatly planned and have beautiful finishing with ample parking and well-manicured lawns that can easily fit within a Kenyan upmarket estate.

Slum Upgrading Programme Kibera Kenya Amani Canaan Soweto

Picture by BuildDesign

Surprisingly, residents only pay KShs. 3,000 annually to live in the units, but people being people, some beneficiaries rent their units for monthly rents that go as high as KShs. 20,000. All in all, the development is admirable. Dee lives in one of the units, the same spot her old shanty used to be before KENSUP which also acts as the office space for (BIAG).

Dee walks in measured gaits just as one would expect of a model. The way she stands, smiles, gestures, or talks betray her love for the industry. Growing up, she always wanted to be a model despite the challenges of life in the slums and the perceived difficulty for girls of her background to have a breakthrough in the industry. In 2015 as a student at Moi University, Dee Adelle was the runners-up for Moi University’s Miss Culture. With this success, she participated in the 2017 Miss Amani Kibera beauty contest where she again emerged second overall.

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Remember the 2017 Mr & Miss Kibera Runners UP? The 21-year-old Deborah "Dee" Gori finally graduated from Moi University where she was pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Education Arts. Born and raised in Kibera-Soweto East area, Dee a project "BECAUSE I'M A GIRL" (BIAG) whose main aim is to empower the Girl Child through education.She believes in serving all people regardless of their social class, tribe and race. She was also Miss culture runners-up at Moi University. Amani Kibera team would wish to say~"CONGRATULATIONS Deborah"

Amani Kibera

Growing up in Soweto was not easy for her and other girls. As a primary school student, she remembers her routine walk to and from school that involved the risky journey of having to jump over sewage water and other waste materials. Life was not easy to all children but girls were vulnerable due to the socio-economic situation at the time that required girls to do household chores in addition to school work while lacking the support to own basic things like adequate sanitary towels.  Such challenges, she believes, shaped her perception and determination to lead a better life. This determination enabled her to excel in her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams and join Nyakach Girls for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). She excelled in her KCSE and qualified for a government-sponsored Bachelor of Education course at Moi University in Eldoret.

Because I am a Girl (BIAG)

KiberaAmani Kenya Slums Nairobi

Dee: During the interview

Debora founded BIAG to help girls overcome the challenges she faced growing up. Initially, she did not have an official sponsor, but she relentlessly conducted activities in schools before a lawmaker agreed to fund aspects of the initiative. Surprisingly, the lawmaker is from Kisii County and not Nairobi. BIAG grew as the days went by, and she managed to conduct activities in 22 schools within Kibera. BIAG’s one-on-one and group discussion approaches exposed some reasons behind school absenteeism and poor performance among school going girls. Top of the reasons included lack of sanitary towels, teenage relationships, and general insecurity. BIAG managed to provide sanitary towels and also counseled the girls in addition to linking them to support structures within Kibera. According to Dee Adelle, she came to realize the importance of involving boys in her discussion in an effort to help them understand and support girls.

Currently, BIAG has activities in 22 schools, all within Kibera with plans to expand into neighboring estates. The initiative has also held single sessions in twelve schools in Kisii County after the primary donor saw the benefit and requested for the activities in his county. Debora hopes that with time, BIAG will expand and be in a position of changing more lives within the informal settlements of Nairobi.

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