How Bernice Links Design & Social Change October 3, 2016 by Nick Johnson
Bernice knows that to make change, you must approach a problem from all angles. The problem she has always been compelled to solve is how to advocate for the rights of adolescent girls. When we interviewed Bernice—Bancy for short—in our 2015 Annual Report, her passion for educating her peers about the importance of reproductive health came through loudly and clearly. “It pains me to see young girls having babies when they could’ve had the chance to go to school and create a different future.”
So, if advocating for girls’ rights is her ultimate goal, why would she spend hours learning how to create web pages? First, spreading information online is the fastest—and often most effective—way to communicate it. Beyond that, Bancy hints at something else, saying, “Empowering girls to learn web design skills is important because it helps girls see technology as a new tool for self-expression.” And when girls have the confidence to express themselves? “They can help their family and the rest of society too.”
Through CFK’s unique partnership with Nairobits, a Nairobi-based organization that empowers young people through computer and web-based skills, we have created an environment where girls can take classes to become proficient in web design, programming, and graphic design. At the CFK-Nairobits Girls Center, girls can learn alongside other girls, empowering each other to take the next steps towards confidently marketing themselves in an online space. (You can see some examples of their work here.)
For Bancy, that sense of community is indispensable. “I like learning alongside other girls since any time girls come together with collective intentions, they do amazing things.” One of those amazing things is to use the tools she has learned to inform other girls about reproductive health. She adds, “Can you imagine living in a world led by educated women?”
Bancy sure can. One of the best aspects of the classes, she says, is that they’ve encouraged her to think critically and solve problems. “My favorite aspect of the course is language programming since it helps me think better by mapping my mind,” she explains. “Learning new programming languages creates a different way of solving problems.”
Acquiring these skills is opening doors for Bancy. Earlier this year, she was offered an internship at Oracom, one of Kenya’s premier web design companies. Through her internship, she helped design a new site for MAC Dental, a dental office in the town of Thika, Kenya (about an hour outside of Nairobi). Building that site was a rewarding experience and cemented her commitment to using web design to communicate reproductive health advice to girls. She reiterates, “I’ve learned from participating at CFK that taking advantage of diverse opportunities will help you have a chance to achieve what you want most.” Between opportunities to learn web design, advocate for reproductive health, and internships, it’s clear that Bancy is taking her own advice.