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.
Dec 11, 2012

Three Cheers for our Graduates!

Our First Health & Leadership Graduation!
Our First Health & Leadership Graduation!

Last week our Health and Leadership Training kicked off with more than 100 girls from throughout the district joining 50 students from the Kakenya Center for Excellence (KCE) for an exciting week of camp. All 157 girls stayed on the KCE campus where we integrated vital trainings and workshops with fun activities such as movie night, relay races, storytelling and dancing.

The first two days of camp centered on health topics such as female genital mutilation (FGM), HIV/AIDS, menstruation and hygiene,  and sex and sexuality. The workshops provided a safe space for girls to get accurate answers to some difficult questions and issues.

Days 3-5 were focused on self-defense and safety.  Once again, KCE partnered with  I'm Worth Defending, a Nairobi organization that focuses on self -defense and preparedness.  These trainers really engaged our girls and got them excited about protecting themselves and saying "NO" to assault and FGM.  During the camp, a woman in the market asked what was being taught at KCE.  "All I hear," she said "is No! No! No!"

Our last day of training was focused on leadership and the importance of education.  The girls learned about opportunities in our community and how to be successful in achieving their professional and personal goals.

The week culminated in our first Graduation ceremony, which brought together 230 past participants for a day of reflection and celebration.  Our campus was brimming with parents, teachers, and community leaders who all came to cheer on our daughters and applaud them for their accomplishments and success.

At a time of year when many girls are forced to partake in traditional circumcision ceremonies, this graduation highlighted what is possible when our girls are supported, educated, cherished and empowered.  It was a very moving rite of passage indeed.

What a Celebration!
What a Celebration!
Girls Enjoying Camp
Girls Enjoying Camp
Sep 24, 2012

Anna's Story

It is hard to believe, but we have begun the last term of the year at the Kakenya Center for Excellence.  The girls are happy to be back together, and are ready and eager to learn!  The teachers and staff are thrilled to have the classrooms filled once again with energetic, smiling faces.Many of our students have overcome great obstacles to pursue an education at the Kakenya Center for Excellence and truly appreciate and understand the real gift of KCE in their lives. “Anna’s” story below provides a glimpse into how the Kakenya Center for Excellence is empowering our students and strengthening our community.  It is a reminder how communities can change, one girl at a time.

Anna, now a 7th grader at KCE, was born in the village of Sikawa, an hour long journey from the KCE campus in Enoosaen.  She is the second youngest of five children --- four girls

 and a boy.  Anna’s parents divorced bitterly when she was very young.  For many years, Anna and her siblings endured hostility and cruelty from their father. Both of Anna’s older sisters were forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), a Maasai tradition that marks a girl’s passage to womanhood and early marriage. Encouraged by her mother and siblings, Anna applied and was accepted to the Kakenya Center for Excellence. With Anna’s tuition, uniform, and school materials fully funded by KCE, Anna has begun a new chapter in her life.  Anna will be spared from undergoing FGM because her mother wants her daughter to pursue a new path through education.

Since beginning at KCE, Anna has blossomed.  “I learn about self-esteem, confidence, and about FGM… I learn about FGM and the effects … I feel empowered.”  When asked about her relationship with her father, Anna starts to cry.  She is saddened by the rift in her family and the suffering of her older sisters.  She cries, too, when asked about how the Kakenya Center of Excellence has impacted her life --- but these are tears of joy.  Anna is keenly aware that her mother is not able to pay for her education, and she is deeply appreciative of this opportunity.  Anna now dreams of becoming a policewoman and supporting her community. “Education can help me learn more things and to help many people in my country.” 

The transformation that has occurred in Anna’s life would not be possible without the support we receive from our generous friends.  On behalf of Anna, and all the girls we serve, thank you!

Sep 12, 2012

Two Leadership Camps Planned for Winter Holiday!

This week the students at the Kakenya Center for Excellence (KCE) returned to school for the fall term.  With smiles on their faces, excitement in their voices, and determination in their hearts, 124 girls started a new term – a term that will keep them on the path toward achieving their dreams.

 As the new term kicked off, our teachers and staff are reminded of the girls in our district who do not have the same opportunities to learn and succeed.  With that in mind, we have diligently begun planning our next Health and Leadership Camp for the winter holiday. These leadership camps provide the Center with the opportunity to reach a wider circle of at-risk girls throughout our community.  With lifesaving workshops on health and wellness, and vital leadership trainings, we are providing girls with the tools to become strong leaders of our country and world. 

 We are excited to announce that we are planning to host two Health and Leadership Camps during winter break.  Our first camp will model the successful camps we have run in the past.  As in previous camps, we will pair KCE students with girls from other schools throughout the Transmara district.  This partnership enables KCE students to strengthen their leadership skills and creates a strong bond among the girls in our community.

 Our second gathering will introduce a new component to this program. We plan to hold a reunion for all girls that have participated in the past four camps.  This will bring together more than 300 girls to our campus!    We are committed to supporting our girls on an ongoing basis.  The reunion will enable us to gain insight into what lessons have worked, what can be improved and how these camps have made a difference in the girls’ lives.

 Most importantly, we hope the reunion will empower and inspire the girls.  We will hold the session at the time of year when the female genital cutting ceremony traditionally takes place, but our a ceremony will show that these girls are becoming women by empowering them rather than causing them harm. By reuniting hundreds of girls we will show the strength, power and unity that can be achieved by providing girls with tools to protect and love themselves.

 None of this, of course, could be achieved without the generous support of our friends.  On behalf of all the girls we serve, thank you for your continued support.

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