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.
Oct 1, 2014

Network for Excellence Girls are Soaring!

A Happy Reunion!
A Happy Reunion!

“We came, we learned, we bonded, we left energized for a new term. We look forward to the next camp!” --- Network for Excellence High School Student

This summer we had the privilege and honor of welcoming our first class of graduates back to our campus for a week of learning, mentoring and fun. My heart was filled with incredible joy as I watched these young women return to KCE beaming with self-confidence and strength. Our 7th and 8thgraders greeted their older sisters with open arms and enthusiasm.  To say that everyone was excited for this reunion is an understatement! The week-long program, hosted during a school holiday, brought together 26 highschool students and 61 of our 7th and 8th graders for a week of academic review, leadership training, and of course, fun. Our Network for Excellence program is ensuring that KCE graduates have the support and resources they need to succeed in highschool and beyond.

For the high school girls, the camp provided a structured and nurturing environment where they could study and reconnect with their peers.  The girls spent time sharing stories about their high school experiences, finishing homework assignments, studying, participating in leadership trainings, and tutoring the younger girls. Three trained tutors worked individually with students on their weak subject areas.  We were thrilled to also have three university students providing workshops on topics such as goal setting, community service, career orientation and healthy teen relationships. These mentors - an engineering student, a public health graduate, and a pharmacy student – are amazing mentors for our girls.

Our 7th and 8th grade students received tutoring in core subjects and spent a great deal of time working with professionals on test taking strategies for the national exams they will take in November. Perhaps the highlight for our 7th and 8th graders was the opportunity to meet informally in small groups each day with the high school girls and hear their stories about high school, gaining insight into the rigors and expectations that high school will bring.   

As I watch our students grow and mature, I know that our organization must grow and mature as well.  I’m forever grateful to the dedicated staff on campus that meets our students’ daily needs with professionalism and kindness.  I am deeply committed to ensuring that KCE has the leadership capacity and solid infrastructure in place to deliver on our mission and remain strong and sustainable over time. To that end, I am thrilled to introduce our new team in Kenya: Hillary Omala, Executive Director; Wilkista Akinyi, Program Officer; and Eunice Mpilei, Finance and Administration Officer.

Thank you for enabling our girls to have these opportunities for academic growth and continued fellowship.

Sincerely,

Kakenya

Jul 9, 2014

KCE Training Program Hits the Road!

Our first group of boys at their training
Our first group of boys at their training

When I dreamed of building Kakenya Center for Excellence, I imagined a place where every girl in my village could receive an education, be free of FGM and early marriage, have room to build their own dreams for the future, and become change makers in Kenya. I wanted the next generation of leaders in my village, both girls and boys, to recognize the value of educated girls who can become equal partners in our community and world. My vision was that, as our students became more known and respected in our community, our model for educating all children would spread throughout the region.

Our Health and Leadership Training program began as a response to the high number of families in the region who were seeking spots for their daughters in our boarding school. Though we could only accept a small number into the school, I could not leave the rest behind. I wanted to find a way to reach all girls in the community with information about their rights, FGM, and early marriage as well as leadership and self defense skills. Our training program has allowed us to reach some of these girls by inviting them to our campus for week-long camps twice per year. After we launched the training program in 2011, its reputation spread quickly and demand for participation was more than we could accommodate.

I began to dream bigger. I decided to take our program on the road to schools around the region, allowing us to reach all girls attending those schools. On June 27th and 28th, Kakenya Center for Excellence held our first weekend Health and Leadership Training in a neighboring school. Hosted at Enkilority primary school, 106 girls and 80 boys from five nearby primary schools joined KCE trainers and staff for a two-day training seminar on a variety of topics including self esteem and leadership, FGM and early marriage, and sexuality and adolescence. The first day of training included our inaugural session for 6th and 7th grade boys. Trainers from the Nairobi-based group I'm Worth Defending worked with the boys who attended, stressing the importance that they join with girls to become a new generation of leaders that stands together on the principle of education for all and that protects the rights of children everywhere. Our goal is to reach 1,500 students this year through these monthly weekend training sessions. Plans are already underway for next month's "on the road" training!

Thank you so much for your support as we continue to dream bigger and reach more and more girls (and boys) throughout the Transmara region with critical skills and information. You are making a difference, and we are so grateful that you believe in our mission to change the paradigm for girls’ education in rural Kenya.

Learning outside
Learning outside
Listening carefully to the trainers
Listening carefully to the trainers
80 boys showed up!
80 boys showed up!

Links:

Jul 3, 2014

The KCE Mentorship Program

Wilkista and some KCE students
Wilkista and some KCE students

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” - Maya Angelou

 With the passing of Maya Angelou this May, I have been moved to write this update about the vital importance of mentors in our KCE community. Since our inception in 2009, mentorship has been a strong and integral tenet of our program.

Our teachers and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that our students do well academically, emotionally, mentally and physically. In addition, KCE has developed partnerships with community members and organizations that motivate, inspire and engage our students to uncover their true potential and reach for their dreams.

 Last August, KCE began a mentorship program with the Global Give Back Circle, an international non-profit mentoring program that pairs young disadvantaged students with mentors.   Two amazing young college students from the University of Nairobi, Wilkista Akinyi and Vera Oreti, initiated the Kakenya Mentoring Program with Global Give Back Circle, bringing together students from several Kenyan universities and our KCE students. Throughout last year, all of our class 8 girls were paired with mentors from Kenyan universities.  Through online letters, students gained insight into the rewards and challenges of college. Wilkista described the program’s vision this way: “We wanted to share with them more about high school and university life, we wanted to empower them to dream big and walk their dreams, we wanted to be their older sisters who have defied all odds and gained access to quality education. We wanted to help them understand the true meaning of growing to become global citizens who can develop their communities and beyond.”

 In May 2014, our recent graduates returned to KCE for a two-day training program that was facilitated by Wilkista and the Global Give Back Circle women. Our graduates were happy to reunite on campus and to meet their mentors in person. Wilkista has stayed on this month to strengthen the mentorship program for our current 8th grade class and facilitate their upcoming field trip to Nairobi.

In the coming weeks, the high schools our graduates now attend will be hosting visiting days, and I am thrilled that many of our mentors will be traveling to visit their students during that time!  

 I cannot begin to emphasize the profound influence these mentors have had on our girls. These mentors are empowering our students to visualize a different future. Our girls are witnessing achievement and it is igniting their own passions.

Most importantly, their continued fellowship and guidance has said “I Believe In You” and for that, I am forever grateful.

Sincerely,

 

Kakenya

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