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 9, 2012

Updates from the Kakenya Center for Excellence

Students working together in the computer lab
Students working together in the computer lab

Over the past several months, many new and exciting developments have taken place at the Kakenya Center for Excellence.  Currently our school has 123 students in grades 4 through 7.  The new term has begun and the girls continue to make great progress as students and leaders.  They are as excited as we are about the programs we have implemented in 2011 at our school in Enoosaen, Kenya.  A few of these are highlighted below:

Health and Leadership Camps: Beginning in April 2011, Kakenya Center for Excellence expanded leadership opportunities to all girls in the community through special summer and holiday camps.  In these camps, regularly enrolled students act as peer educators and role models for the girls that are not enrolled at the school. Kakenya Center for Excellence girls are required to follow up with their peer mentee during the school holidays.  The camps’ creative activities foster personal empowerment and leadership skills, catered to twelve- to fifteen-year-old girls.  The camps in 2011 were able to reach 130 girls from around the community. Our goal in 2012 is to reach 200 girls.

Field Trips: Most Kakenya Center for Excellence students had never left the village before they enrolled at our school. With this in mind, we began a program of field trips in conjunction with our academic curriculum in social and environmental studies. In April, the students at Kakenya Center were able to go on their first field trip ever.  The girls in grades 4 and 5 traveled to Rusinga Island for a day, and the girls in grade 6 went on an overnight adventure to Lake Nakuru National Park and the surrounding area.  These trips help the girls see beyond their own community, broadening their horizons and giving them opportunities they had never had before.  The students had a wonderful time and are looking forward to their next field trip in 2012. 

Spelling Bee: In August, we held our first school-wide Spelling Bee.  The girls studied lists of 100 English words for a month in preparation for the competition.  The Spelling Bee took place on a Sunday afternoon.  All the girls who took part in the competition received ribbons of participation and the top ten finishers won bigger prizes.  This was a fun way to motivate our girls to excel academically. 

Technology: Facilitated by a donation from Hewlett-Packard earlier this year, our campus is now equipped with a computer lab.  Our students and staff are taking part in IT classes, learning typing and computer skills.  We plan to open a computer lab for the community, as well, allowing many people their first opportunity to access the Internet and use online resources. Our goal is to prepare the girls for their computer science courses in high school. Usually, this course is offered to boys and not girls because of the cultural assumption that girls do not perform well in science courses.

Quilting and Beading Projects: The art of beading represents a non-destructive Maasai cultural tradition, and our aim is to preserve this positive practice by educating our girls about the Maasai history of beading.  It also provides a therapeutic and creative outlet for girls who may not have other ways to express themselves, and it raises awareness about the oppression of women in our society through images. In order to document the historical oppression of women, the project was done in partnership with the Rehema Widows Group.  The women from this community group and our girls depicted scenes of their lives and experiences to share with one another. The girls in fourth and fifth grade are starting their art project by making beaded bracelets, another Maasai tradition. 

The girls at Kakenya Center are so grateful for the opportunities that are available to them because of all of your generous support!  Thank you for joining us on our journey as we seek to end the cycle of destructive cultural practices and allow Maasai girls to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential.  We hope you will continue to change the lives of these beautiful girls with us as we enter a new academic year!

Group activity at a health and leadership camp
Group activity at a health and leadership camp
Girls from grades 4 and 5 on their trip to Rusinga
Girls from grades 4 and 5 on their trip to Rusinga
Top Spelling Bee finishers showing off prizes
Top Spelling Bee finishers showing off prizes
A student working on her quilt panel
A student working on her quilt panel
Jan 7, 2012

Kakenya Center's December 2011 Leadership Camp

December 2011 Health and Leadership Camp
December 2011 Health and Leadership Camp

In December 2011, we held another successful Health and Leadership Camp for 65 girls aged 13 and 14.  The participants were a mix of KCE students and girls from the surrounding community.  Each Kakenya Center student was paired with a girl from another school for the duration of the camp to encourage the participants to make new friends.  Each day had a different theme, such as Health and Hygiene or Leadership and Life Skills.  On the Health and Hygiene day, our knowledgeable trainers gave the girls information on health issues ranging from how to properly wash their hands to facts about sexually transmitted diseases.  The girls also learned about the harmful effects of female genital cutting -- from a trainer who is also Maasai.  On the Leadership and Life Skills day, they participated in group games and activities, discussed qualities of a good leader, and were educated about their rights by the district children’s rights officer.  

Evenings were filled with fun activities such as story-telling by local grandmothers, a movie night, and a talent show.  While at the beginning of the week many of the girls were timid and afraid to speak up, by the end of the camp almost every girl was eager to answer the trainers’ questions and to participate.  During dinner time on the final night, all the girls sat together and spoke and laughed energetically - an amazing sight to see after the dinner on the first day where girls from different schools sat far apart and whispered quietly amongst themselves. By the end of the week, everyone had made new friends and acquired lots of new knowledge.  The girls did not want to go home when the camp was over!

Altogether in 2011, our Health and Leadership camps reached over 120 girls.  In 2012, we hope to increase this number to 200.  We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of you who have supported our project and our vision to empower young Maasai girls with knowledge and leadership skills!  Together, we are changing the lives of girls in Enoosaen.

Girls playing tug-of-war
Girls playing tug-of-war
Reflection time with Kakenya
Reflection time with Kakenya
Oct 16, 2011

Leadership Camp

A Leadership Activity Gets Physical at Camp
A Leadership Activity Gets Physical at Camp

With so much going on, we omitted a critically important report: In April, we opened the first leadership and health camp at KCE! For the one-week holiday while girls in grades 4 and 5 had gone home, specially selected girls from other district schools joined our 6th grade girls for the full boarding experience. Please see Charlotte Bourdillon's report for details.

The other news is that we're gearing up for the next camp in December. But to support this effort, we ask you to please go to our sister project page here on Global Giving:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/leadership-training-for-120-girls-in-maasai-kenya/

This project has been selected to participate in the Girl Effect Challenge on Global Giving. You can see additional details there. Please consider even a small donation to that project to help boost our number of donors. Even $10 donations are welcome! The top 6 Girl Effect projects with the most donors and the 6 projects selected by a special Girl Effect committee will move on. Thanks for your support!

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