Kakenya's Dream

The Kakenya Center for Excellence seeks to empower and motivate young girls through education to become agents of change and to break the cycle of destructive cultural practices in Maasai Kenya such as female genital cutting and early forced marriage. We believe in impacting one girl at a time, one community at a time, until all girls in Africa have the opportunities they need to thrive as individuals. These future women leaders will improve their communities, their nation, and the world.
Jan 20, 2015

December in my Village

Local officers facilitate some safety trainings
Local officers facilitate some safety trainings

December is a dangerous time for young Maasai girls. During this month, they are home from school for the holidays and at higher risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced early marriage. Although the girl I describe here does not attend our school (KCE)—she and others like her are part of my home village, and I have a genuine concern for each of them.

Naomi, who is 13 years old, just completed 8th grade, and was home for the holidays.  One morning before sunrise, she began her daily chores—including cleaning the mud hut, gathering firewood, and fetching water. Her mother and brothers were away at the outdoor market. As Naomi and her little sister worked, a group of men called for Naomi from outside the hut. They grabbed her and carried her away. Naomi’s sister ran to the market to find her mother, who immediately reported Naomi’s disappearance to the village chief. Although the chief promised to look into the matter, so far neither he nor the chief of police has taken any action. Naomi’s mother was told not to worry; that her daughter has been married to a good husband.

 Girls should never be taken against their will and forced to marry or undergo FGM. At KCE, our mission is to end this type of violence against girls forever. Our school and health and leadership trainings are teaching girls to protect themselves through self-defense skills, legal rights, and health education. Girls in my community and their families know that they can rely on our program for help and defense if needed. I am doing everything in my power to find Naomi and return her to her mother, and I will not stop until she is safe.

 Since the inception of our Health and Leadership Training Program we have enabled more that 1,000 girls in the region to gain confidence and learn about their bodies and their rights.

 As we begin a new year, we are committed to training both girls and boys on these important issues. Thank you for your continued support!

Team session
Team session
I
I'm Worth Defending teaches self defense to girls
Dec 30, 2014

Happy Holidays from KCE

Dear Friends,

Six years ago, before so many caring people helped Kakenya Center for Excellence open its doors to educate girls in Southwestern Kenya, the future for girls in my village was bleak. Before KCE, girls as young as 8 or 9 were at risk of undergoing the painful rite of female genital mutilation (FGM). Young girls were being forced into early marriage, and any girl who might have actually started school would likely have been pulled away from education early, as her destiny of servitude, poverty and marginalization overtook any hopes and dreams she might have had.  

Today, it is a vastly different and wonderful new story, thanks to so many kind people who have helped bring about change through education and leadership at Kakenya Center for Excellence.   

Let me tell you about Nasieku, who came to KCE as a timid 10 year old. Nasieku’s parents were preparing her to undergo genital mutilation and, as was the norm in our village, to marry her off in exchange for livestock. When they heard about theKCE boarding school and our mission of excellence, education and empowerment for rural girls, they wanted to know more. Nasieku’s parents learned that they could enroll their daughter in this novel school dedicated to advancing the development of Africa through transformational educational strategies for girls.

Nasieku’s parents discovered that in order to enroll her in the KCE boarding school, they would need to agree, as must all KCE parents, to protect her from being genitally mutilated. Their decision to reject social norms and partner with us in Nasieku’s education has forever changed Naisieku’s life story.

It is worth noting that not one of our KCE girls has undergone the painful FGM procedure because all KCE parents must sign a letter of commitment in which they promise to protect their daughters from this life-limiting and illegal rite. Six years ago, when Nasieku came to KCE, she could not write or read, let alone leverage the skills and knowledge needed to protect herself. Today, she excels in her schoolwork and she understands her health and her legal rights. Most importantly, she dreams about her own future and of creating a better world for girls everywhere. 

Nasieku’s story is inspiring, yet there is much work left to be done. Together we can help ensure that girls in rural Kenya and beyond are able to sidestep risks and realize their full promise as valued and respected individuals who have equal opportunity and ability to lead and engage their families, communities and the world.

From the bottom of my heart,

Thank you!

Kakenya

 

Please consider donating as generously as you can during this time and help us spread the word! Remember, all gifts made between now and December 31 will mean DOUBLE the amount to KCE and our girls! Thank you!

Oct 16, 2014

I'm Worth Defending

I
I'm Worth Defending

I’m Worth Defending. What powerful words.  

One of the primary goals at our Health and Leadership trainings is to build the self-esteem of our participants so that each and every adolescent can say with conviction, “I’m Worth Defending.”

In June, August and October we reached into communities throughout the Keyian Division to listen to kids talk about some of the real issues and challenges they face each day. Through interactive and dynamic workshops, our professional team of trainers touched on topics such as FGM and its consequences, sexuality and adolescence, self defense, and boundary setting.

Thanks to your support, we reached nearly 850 adolescents from more than 10 surrounding schools in these three training weekends alone. By bringing girls and boys together from throughout the district, we continue to foster new friendships and connections amongst the next generation of leaders.

We know that these trainings are having a lasting impact on participants and their communities:

  • “We’ve learned that a boy shouldn’t force a girl into sex. And that a leader is sharp… your deeds show it."            Francis, Ntuka Primary
  • “I think we should have this training every weekend. You have taught us things we didn’t know. I will refuse FGM” Participant, Moita Primary
  • “I would like to join Kakenya’s dream” Participant, Ereko Primary
  • "I’ve learned life skills: self control will help me not to fight people”  Gideon, Oldanyati Primary
  • I am worth defending!”  Vivian, Enoretet Primary

Thank you for your continued support of our Health and Leadership Training Program!

Practicing Self Defense
Practicing Self Defense
Weekend session with boys
Weekend session with boys

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