Kakenya Center for Excellence has been filled with activity throughout the current academic term. We now have 124 students enrolled in grades 4 through 7, and the girls continue to grow into confident young women, excelling academically, socially, and physically. Over the past few months, the exciting events at Kakenya Center have included spelling bees, athletic competitions, and computer classes.
Spelling Bees: Each class of girls at KCE participated in grade-level spelling bees over the past week, one grade level per day. On the same four days that KCE held spelling bees, the local public primary school also organized competitions, with support from Kakenya Center. At both schools, all participants received pencils and the top three were given larger prizes: a backpack, a notebook, and a storybook. The top ten finishers from each grade level at KCE will compete with their counterparts at Enoosaen Primary School this week. The first place prize will be an Oxford dictionary! The girls love these competitions and spend weeks preparing by studying lists of words.
Volleyball Champions: Spring is the season for athletic competitions in Transmara District. Kakenya Center’s volleyball team has had lots of success this year, winning the Transmara West District Championship last week. They competed against over 100 other girls to achieve this impressive accomplishment. Next, they will go to the County Championship to represent the entire district against girls from the surrounding area. We are so proud of them and thrilled at their confidence in their physical abilities.
Computer Classes: Unlike other primary schools in the area, KCE is fortunate to have a computer lab on our campus. This allows our girls to learn important IT skills that will be crucial for them to succeed in secondary school and beyond. Though we run into many challenges with keeping the computers healthy and properly functioning, the girls have been able to learn to type, practicing how to use both hands, compose letters, and write stories. It has also allowed the girls to become familiar with the internet and the kinds of resources it provides.
We are now looking forward to our next health and leadership holiday camp, which will take place from April 23-28 during the academic break. The camps give us an opportunity to invite girls who attend other schools in the area to come to our campus and join our own students for a week of training, laughter, and new friends. Topics for the camp will include self-esteem, health and hygiene, sexually transmitted infections, children’s rights, and volunteership. The girls are excited for another fun-filled holiday camp.
The highlights above provide only a few snapshots of what your support allows us to do. We are so grateful for the individuals who believe in our mission of empowering young girls to reach their full potential and to pursue their dreams. Thank you so much for partnering with us to change the lives of Maasai girls in Kenya!
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!
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:
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!
Brazilian Advocacy Project Fellow Cleia Noia brought a slice of Americana to the Maasai girls at KCE: a good old-fashioned spelling bee! What a way to hone their English skills! The fact that the words were taken from the girls themselves, noted from actual lessons, makes them even more meaningful. No obscure words generated by a teacher or a school system that one is unlikely to encounter again. Kudos to Cleia for organizing this successful event! And don't miss the photos in her attached report.
In case you have forgotten, the dormitory at the Kakenya Center for Excellence was desperately needed. Girls were walking long distances from their homes, subject to human and animal predators. We converted empty classroom space into a makeshift dorm so the girls would not have to endure these dangers and to provide them precious time for studying. As one student reports,
My life change in the school and I improved in my education, I was walking to school for a long distance. I had came to [KCE] and I have been in boarding school. We had been taking good food and sleep well as well as learning. At [KCE] we had been given uniform, school shoes, [athletic apparel,] and school materials.
Attached you will find two articles describing the dorm and the excitement of the girls. We hope you will share in their excitement.
A huge thank you to all our donors and friends who supported this grand effort!
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