Growing up and living in Kibera, Kenya, Abdul Kassim was well aware of the disproportionate number of challenges faced by women due to the extreme gender inequalities that persist in the slums. After being raised by his aunts, mother, and grandmother and having a daughter himself, he felt that he needed to make a difference.
In 2002, Abdul started a soccer team for girls called Girls Soccer in Kibera (GSK), with the hope of fostering a supportive community and providing emotional and mental support for the young women in the town. The soccer program was a success, but the looming dangers of slum life persisted, and the young women continued to fall victim to the worst kinds of human atrocities. Indeed, it was the unyielding injustice of these conditions that led Abdul to the conclusion that soccer alone was not enough to create the necessary systemic change.
In 2006, after much work, the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy (KGSA) was established with their first class of 11 girls and 2 volunteer teachers. Today, KGSA is composed of 20 full-time staff, provides a host of artistic and athletic programs for more than 130 students annually, and continues to expand. By providing academics inside and outside of the classroom along with artistic and athletic opportunities, KGSA inspires the young women of Kibera to become advocates for change within their own communities and for Kenya as a whole.
Play Like a Girl tells the KGSA story through Abdul’s voice and vision and the stories of key staff and students. It is written by Ellie Roscher who spent 2 summers doing research at KGSA and several years writing this book.
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About the Author
Ellie is the director of youth and story development at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, teaches creative writing at the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, and previously taught theology at Cretin-Derham Hall High School.
Ellie’s work as an educator, writer and speaker has brought her to places like Kenya, El Salvador and Uruguay, but she currently lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and sons. She has a MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a MA in Theology from Luther Seminary. You can follow her at @ellieroscher or learn more about her on her author website.
Table of Contents
Author's Note ix
Lighting Slowly: Pre-2006 1
Free School Isn't Free: 2006 21
Educating the Girl Child: 2007 42
The Problems of the Urban Poor Are Everyone's Problems: 2008 63
Creating Something New: 2009 84
Accessing the Light: 2010 104
Thriving Girls Change the World: 2011 128
The Song She Sang to Me: 2012 158
Burning Brighter: 2013 181
Epilogue: 2014-2016 198