“I love my body, I say NO to FGM!” This chant rang out across Kakenya Center for Excellence’s campus during our most recent Health and Leadership Holiday Camp. Girls proudly declared the empowering phrase, reflecting the sense of self confidence and strength they cultivated over the 6-day camp. From April 23-28, we hosted 120 girls in grades 6 and 7, the largest camp we have had so far! As in previous camps, we invited half the participants to come from over 24 schools across the Transmara district. This gives us an opportunity to build mentoring relationships between our KCE students and girls from the rest of the neighboring community, spreading our hopeful messages and important health and leadership information to girls who do not usually have access to our programs.
The week was filled with fun activities, starting with a full day of training by I’m Worth Defending, a group based in Nairobi that teaches girls to defend their bodies, to say “NO!”, and to have greater self esteem and confidence. The girls practiced moves and techniques to protect themselves from physical violence as well as positive self talk to empower them as individuals. Throughout the week, the girls participated in trainings by several other health and human rights professionals, learning about sexual and reproductive health, life skills, healthy relationships, children’s rights, and other topics.
The campers also benefited from group and individual counseling sessions, reinforcing these lessons and providing them with a safe space to voice their feelings, questions, and concerns. This type of open communication allows the girls to seek help for the often serious problems they are facing and for us to gauge the greatest needs of adolescent girls in the community.
Our camps continue to grow in numbers and in impact. We hope to hold another camp in December 2012 that will reunite the participants from all of our previous camps – 300 girls altogether! These camps are one of the most exciting, effective, and fun elements of our program, and we are so grateful for the supporters who partner with us to allow them to continue. Thank you for believing in our mission to empower young Maasai girls to follow their dreams and to see the potential within themselves. Together, we are changing the lives of future leaders in Africa.
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