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 10, 2014

Another Successful Health and Leadership Camp!

Caroline addressing the campers
Caroline addressing the campers

Happy New Year!  It has been a wonderful year at Kakenya Center for Excellence, and we are so thankful for the support you have provided over the past year.  Your generosity has allowed KCE to host two successful Health and Leadership camps.  At our most recent camp, in early December, we had a total of 133 girls in grades 6-8.  As in past camps, our good friends from I’m Worth Defending, a Nairobi-based non-profit, came to teach the girls self-defense moves as well as assertiveness, boundary setting, and other skills for keeping themselves safe.  Training sessions on subsequent days focused on FGM, sex and sexuality, leadership, HIV/AIDS, and other important health information.  The final day of the camp was a Career Day, allowing the girls to explore potential paths to achieving their dreams for the future.  For non-KCE girls, this was an unfamiliar exercise that allowed new dreams to take root.

One of the most fulfilling elements of our camps is the relationship that forms between the campers and their high-school aged counselors.  These counselors are hand picked from nearby schools and trained as mentors and leaders.  At each camp, we give these young women an opportunity to share wisdom and encouragement with the campers.  Caroline, one of the counselors who shared at our December camp, had a particularly compelling story.  She explained to the campers that she joined high school very late after having finished primary school because her family was reluctant to allow her to continue with her studies.  Undeterred from achieving her goal of completing secondary school, she recently finished her final year of high school and took the final exams at the end of 2013.  She urged the girls to take their studies seriously. In secondary school, her reputation as a hard worker earned the honor of serving as her class president.  Caroline hopes to attend college in the coming years and to study medicine so she can become a doctor.  The girls listened attentively with faces of visible admiration.

We are honored and excited to be able to host these training camps.  Year after year we see how the girls who attend are transformed.  We look forward to three more Health and Leadership training camps in 2014 and hope that you will continue to join with us in our mission of empowering young Maasai girls!

Counselors with their girls in the evening
Counselors with their girls in the evening

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Oct 11, 2013

Kakenya Among 2013 Top Ten CNN Heroes

Kakenya with our heroes, the girls!
Kakenya with our heroes, the girls!

Kakenya Ntaiya: A Top 10 CNN Hero!

CNN announced its Top 10 Heroes for 2013 and I am extremely honored and humbled to be one of the ten.  I cannot even begin to express what this award means to the girls in my community and the issues that we continue to eradicate in our society.  Today CNN has elevated the voices of young girls who are forced to undergo female genital cutting and early marriages.  These are girls who are yearning for a better future but are denied an education when they are so young. I know because I was one of them.

I am motivated every day by girls like Lynn and Angeline who were orphaned at a tender age of seven and ten, but who now will achieve their dreams because we have given them an opportunity. But there is still much work to be done. 14 million girls are married each year before they are 18 years old and 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing female genital cutting. With your help, and that of people like you, we can put a end to these practices.

CNN is asking the public to select their "Hero of the Year", so I am asking you today to vote for me and the girls, to share this link on your Facebook and Twitter and to ask your family, friends and colleagues to do the same. While it is an honor to be among the top ten, which comes with $50,000 which we will put towards building more classrooms, being named the top winner would be the catalyst for us to help significantly more girls. The visibility that recognition would give to this issue, and the direct investments we could make with the $250,000 prize would ensure that we have transformed more girls into empowered individuals who will each make a difference in our world.

I want to thank CNN for believing in my dream and that of the many girls around the world. And I want to thank you, our supporters, for your continued support. Together we are changing the lives of girls in Kenya in a positive way.

I am grateful for your continual support and very thankful for your vote.

With warm regards,

 

Kakenya Ntaiya, PhD. 

Oct 11, 2013

Kakenya Among 2013 Top Ten CNN Heroes

Kakenya with our heroes, the girls!
Kakenya with our heroes, the girls!

Kakenya Ntaiya: A Top 10 CNN Hero!

CNN announced its Top 10 Heroes for 2013 and I am extremely honored and humbled to be one of the ten. I cannot even begin to express what this award means to the girls in my community and the issues that we continue to eradicate in our society. Today CNN has elevated the voices of young girls who are forced to undergo female genital cutting and early marriages. These are girls who are yearning for a better future but are denied an education when they are so young. I know because I was one of them.

I am motivated every day by girls like Lynn and Angeline who were orphaned at a tender age of seven and ten, but who now will achieve their dreams because we have given them an opportunity. But there is still much work to be done. 14 million girls are married each year before they are 18 years old and 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing female genital cutting. With your help, and that of people like you, we can put a end to these practices.

CNN is asking the public to select their "Hero of the Year", so I am asking you today to vote for me and the girls, to share this link on your Facebook and Twitter and to ask your family, friends and colleagues to do the same. While it is an honor to be among the top ten, which comes with $50,000 which we will put towards building more classrooms, being named the top winner would be the catalyst for us to help significantly more girls. The visibility that recognition would give to this issue, and the direct investments we could make with the $250,000 prize would ensure that we have transformed more girls into empowered individuals who will each make a difference in our world.

I want to thank CNN for believing in my dream and that of the many girls around the world.  And I want to thank you, our supporters, for your continued support.  Together we are changing the lives of girls in Kenya in a positive way.

I am grateful for your continual support and very thankful for your vote.

With warm regards,

Kakenya Ntaiya, PhD. 

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