In April, we hosted our week-long health and leadership training camp on our campus. Our 6th grade girls were joined with 60 girls from other schools throughout the Transmara region. The trainers from I’m Worth Defending in Nairobi and our local trainers exposed the girls to different topics from FGM and legal rights to sexual health and prevention.
These trainings are a reality check for our staff and team. It reminds us of the tremendous need for health education, self-defense training and empowerment building outside our campus walls. The reality is that in Kenya, 85% of all sexual assaults occur in the home with someone the victim knows. Several girls that come to our camp have been violated and have never spoken about it or received any counseling. Our program continues to adapt to the needs and challenges of all the girls we serve. In addition to teaching girls how to protect themselves we are now in the process of hiring a certified counselor to work with girls who have already been victims of sexual assault. I know this counseling will be a tremendous support for many girls.
The days at camp are not completely filled with “structured time.” Every day the girls gather informally to simply share stories about life in their villages and to “compare notes” as all girls across cultures and continents do! I was thrilled to be in Enoosaen for the spring camp. I shared my early childhood experience with the girls who were very excited about my accomplishment and felt personally challenged to do the same. The girls shared with me some of their own challenges but also their hopes and dreams for their homes and community. I left campus feeling motivated and determined to continue advocating for them and all girls in Kenya.
Thank you for supporting this Health and Leadership Training program. I feel blessed to have so many people validating our efforts through your continued support.
December is a dangerous time for young Maasai girls. During this month, they are home from school for the holidays and at higher risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced early marriage. Although the girl I describe here does not attend our school (KCE)—she and others like her are part of my home village, and I have a genuine concern for each of them.
Naomi, who is 13 years old, just completed 8th grade, and was home for the holidays. One morning before sunrise, she began her daily chores—including cleaning the mud hut, gathering firewood, and fetching water. Her mother and brothers were away at the outdoor market. As Naomi and her little sister worked, a group of men called for Naomi from outside the hut. They grabbed her and carried her away. Naomi’s sister ran to the market to find her mother, who immediately reported Naomi’s disappearance to the village chief. Although the chief promised to look into the matter, so far neither he nor the chief of police has taken any action. Naomi’s mother was told not to worry; that her daughter has been married to a good husband.
Girls should never be taken against their will and forced to marry or undergo FGM. At KCE, our mission is to end this type of violence against girls forever. Our school and health and leadership trainings are teaching girls to protect themselves through self-defense skills, legal rights, and health education. Girls in my community and their families know that they can rely on our program for help and defense if needed. I am doing everything in my power to find Naomi and return her to her mother, and I will not stop until she is safe.
Since the inception of our Health and Leadership Training Program we have enabled more that 1,000 girls in the region to gain confidence and learn about their bodies and their rights.
As we begin a new year, we are committed to training both girls and boys on these important issues. Thank you for your continued support!
I’m Worth Defending. What powerful words.
One of the primary goals at our Health and Leadership trainings is to build the self-esteem of our participants so that each and every adolescent can say with conviction, “I’m Worth Defending.”
In June, August and October we reached into communities throughout the Keyian Division to listen to kids talk about some of the real issues and challenges they face each day. Through interactive and dynamic workshops, our professional team of trainers touched on topics such as FGM and its consequences, sexuality and adolescence, self defense, and boundary setting.
Thanks to your support, we reached nearly 850 adolescents from more than 10 surrounding schools in these three training weekends alone. By bringing girls and boys together from throughout the district, we continue to foster new friendships and connections amongst the next generation of leaders.
We know that these trainings are having a lasting impact on participants and their communities:
Thank you for your continued support of our Health and Leadership Training Program!
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.
It's hard to believe, but KCE's Health and Leadership Training program is now in its third year and has reached over 300 girls, 60% of whom travel from surrounding villages to participate in the camps in-depth health, leadership and experiential activities!
April and May will be especially busy this year! In two short weeks we will be hosting our week-long training on KCE's campus. We are excited to have law students from Strathmore University in Nairobi assisting with some of the leadership and professional development trainings at camp. The law program at Strathmore requires all students to complete 200 hours of community service and we are thrilled to have these young women partnering with us.
In an effort to reach more girls, KCE Health and Leadership trainings will "hit the road" this May by launching weekend programs throughout schools in our district with the goal of reaching 1,000 girls this year!
We look forward to sharing more information with you about our April and May programs and will send a detailed update in June. Thank you for your continued interest and support.
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