Tag Archives: Teen Vital Voices

Music To The Rescue

On Friday, November 9, human rights activist Andeisha Farid comes to Christ & Holy Trinity Church (7 p.m.). She’ll talk about the orphanages she runs in Afghanistan. She shelters and feeds children, provides them with an education — and introduces them to music.

That intrigued Teen Vital Voices, a Staples service club. Members wanted to help.

They came up with the idea of collecting new or “gently used” small musical instruments.

In Westport, says club president Alexis Teixeira, many children start out learning to play an instrument, but then stop.

An Afghan orphan learns to play music.

“There are probably many instruments sitting in basements or attics collecting dust,” she notes. “I thought, ‘Why not ask for them to be sent to Afghanistan, where our country is already trying to make a difference.'”

Alexis contacted Staples librarians and David Winer, music supervisor for the district. They thought it was a great idea.

The librarians have set up the Staples library as the collection center for students to drop small instruments. Winer contacted all the teachers in Westport elementary middle schools, to get them involved.

Though the drive officially takes place starting Monday (November 5-9), Alexis already has already received a few instruments.

New or gently used small musical instrument may be dropped off at any Westport school’s music department with the note: “Teen Vital Voices, SHS (Andeisha Farid).” To make other arrangements — or for more information — call Alexis Teixeira at 203-256-8684.

Very Vital Teen Voices

Over 2 years ago, “06880” reported on Alexis Texeira. Just a few months after entering Staples, the freshman had formed a club. Teen Vital Voices — the 1st high school branch of a not-for-profit organization launched by Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright to identify, train and empower women leaders around the globe — was inspired by Kakenya Ntaiya, a visionary woman who started a school in Kenya.

Two years later, Teen Vital Voices thrives. Raising funds for tuition and supplies, it has made an impact on countless Kenyans’ lives. It’s impacted many Staples students too.

Kakenya, at her school.

Next Wednesday (April 25), Kakenya returns to Westport to celebrate the fulfillment of her dream. She’ll speak to the Teen Vital Voices group after school, and accept a substantial donation for her Kakenya Center for Excellence. New club members will meet Kakenya for the first time.

The next morning, she’ll speak in the Staples library. That evening (Thursday, April 26, 7 p.m.) she’ll headline a public event at Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

After that, Kakenya — a woman engaged to marry at age 5, who somehow convinced village elders to allow her to attend college in the US, and who returned home to pass the gift of education on to other young girls — heads to the University of Pittsburgh.

There, she’ll receive her doctorate in education.

(The Christ & Holy Trinity event is a fundraiser for Kakenya’s school. Suggested tax-deductible donations are $25 for adults, $5 for students. For more information call Sue Glendinning at 203-938-2158, or email vitalvoicesctcouncil@gmail.com. To learn more about Kakenya, click here.)

Teens’ Vital Voices

Many freshmen spend their 1st year at Staples figuring out the school:  what activities to get involved in, which clubs to join, that sort of thing.  Leadership comes later.

Alexis Teixeira is not “many freshmen.”

Just a few months into her high school career, she’s already started a club.  Already, the club has had an impact — locally and internationally.

Alexis Texeira and Rebecca Lolosoli, during the Kenyan's visit to Westport.

The club is Teen Vital Voices.  It’s the 1st high school branch anywhere of Vital Voices Global Partnership — a not-for-profit organization launched in 1999 by Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright to identify, train and empower women leaders around the globe.

A Vital Voices volunteer, Alexis’s mom told stories of her work.  The 9th grader was intrigued by Kakenya Ntaiya, who started a school in Kenya.  When Kakenya came to Westport to talk, Alexis invited several friends.

Kakenya’s vision inspired Alexis to organize a club.  Teen Vital Voices aims to make a difference in Kenyan girls’ lives, through the Kakenya Center for Excellence.  They assist the school financially, while befriending its students through correspondence and other activities.

Teen Vital Voices hopes to inspire similar clubs, in high schools and colleges.

This year, Staples members have heard from a State Department intern from Turkey; a Fairfield University professor from India, and Rebecca Lolosoli, who founded a safe haven village for women in Kenya.

Alexis has learned much about Africa — including the dearth of opportunities for women there.  “They get married at my age,” she says.  “They drop out of school.  There are rapes and pregnancies, and the blame is put on the girls.  They get kicked out of their homes.”

She also learned that — despite all the obstacles, and little material wealth — the girls at Kakenya have plenty of hope.

“Nobody really knows about all that here,” Alexis says.  “You don’t get the connection until you hear about it, and meet people who know.”

If more Staples students knew about the Kakenya School, she says, more would help.  And it’s easy:  Just $27 builds one school wall.

Teen Vital Voices has held bake sales.  They’ve decorated t-shirts for the girls.  They’re getting the word out through email, and a Facebook page.

“It’s not easy being a group of freshmen,” Alexis admits.  “But we’re trying.”

She’s also trying to get more boys to join Teen Vital Voices.  “It’s not just women’s issues — it’s about people,” she explains.

In just a few months, Teen Vital Voices has made an impact on Kenyans’ lives.  And on Alexis’.

“I’ve met some amazing women,” she says.  “They inspire me, and give me hope.”

Which is exactly what she and her friends do, from Westport to Africa.

(For more information on Teen Vital Voices, contact Alexis:  lilswimmer1294@aol.com)