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.
Jun 22, 2016

Kisumu Field Trip Expands Our Girls' Horizons

Boat ride on the lake
Boat ride on the lake

KCE is committed to providing our girls with opportunities for exploration outside of the classroom as an integral component of their education. Each academic year, every class of girls takes a field trip outside of the village to visit another part of Kenya. This is a way to enhance their classroom learning in subjects like social studies and science by giving them tangible experiences to bring their learning to life.

Early one morning this spring, 37 sixth graders and 10 staff, teachers and parents embarked on our annual 6th grade field trip from rural Enoosaen to the port city of Kisumu. Located in the greater Lake Victoria basin, Kisumu is a 4-hour bus ride from Enoosaen through the fertile Kano and Ahero plains. Believed to be one of the oldest settlements and trading ports in Kenya, the city of Kisumu is now the third largest city in Kenya. Kisumu is a central hub with bustling city life and a striking range of scenery, exotic wildlife and beautiful beaches.

The day was filled with many “firsts” for our girls as they explored the largest city in the Nyanza region of Kenya.The first stop of the day was the Kisumu airport. Our girls watched passenger planes take off and land and witnessed the work of air traffic controllers as they managed air traffic operations. At the adjoining weather station, the girls learned about the functions of weather instruments and the science of meteorology. The opportunity to see airplanes up close rather than from a great distance was fun for the girls. We definitely now have some budding pilots in our 6th grade class!

The next stop, Lwang’Ni beach and the shores of Lake Victoria, was perhaps the most popular stop of the day. Coming from the pastoral village of Enoosaen, experiencing such a large body of water was an eye opener! At Lwang’Ni beach, the girls loved watching the famous fishermen arriving with fresh caught fish. The highlight of the visit was a motor-boat ride where the girls enjoyed the lake breeze. The visit to the larger port provided our girls with the opportunity to see the commercial docks. We were lucky enough to witness a Tanzanian ship coming to dock. The dockmaster was kind and knowledgeable and took the girls through the functions of the docks and the various vessels. The girls were even treated to a rare tour inside a private passenger ship to get the real feel of travelling by water on a large ship!

Later on, the girls experienced the Maasai lions, African leopards and Sitantunga antelopes at Kisumu Impala Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a real gem — and our girls were in awe of the breathtaking views of Lake Victoria and the nature trails that allow you to immerse yourself in the natural habitat. The sanctuary staff demonstrated their appreciation for wildlife and instilled the importance of conservation efforts with our girls.The last visit of the day was to the Kisumu Museum where the focus was on the history of the Luo people, their homesteads and traditional artifacts.

Our annual field trips open our students to new perspectives, expanding their awareness of their larger community, and letting them connect the dots between the classroom and real life experiences.We are so grateful, as always, for individuals like you that help to make these hands-on experiences possible for our girls! 

Watching the airplanes take off and land
Watching the airplanes take off and land
Group photo in front of Lake Victoria
Group photo in front of Lake Victoria
Checking out the wildlife
Checking out the wildlife

Links:

May 25, 2016

Holiday Camp - creating strong, healthy girls that know their rights!

Campers are welcomed to camp
Campers are welcomed to camp

Greetings from Enoosaen!

I am excited to tell you about our most recent health and leadership camp, held this past April during school holidays. Now in its 6th year, the program has not only earned a solid reputation among neighboring school leaders, but it is also highly sought after by the teens themselves.

Each participating school sent three 6th grade students for the week of training, which, in addition to our 6th graders, brought our total number of participants to nearly 150. The size and duration of the camp requires us to prepare for the camp several weeks in advance and to hire extra cooks, guards, matrons, educators and counselors to facilitate. I’m grateful to the “behind the scenes” team who dedicated many hours ordering food and preparing for the opening day!

Our counselors arrived before camp began for a day of training. Most of our counselors are current high school students that have graduated from our boarding school and have personal experience with both our health and leadership camps and our health and leadership boarding school curriculum. These counselors are on the front lines with the campers, helping them navigate our campus, facilitating reflection time and spearheading games and events during downtime. I love watching the counselors take these young campers under their wings and create a supportive bond.

As always, we covered tough issues in our training sessions. Topics ranged from harassment and gender-based violence to legal rights on child marriage and FGM. We know that girls armed with accurate information about their bodies and sexual health will be better prepared to make safe and informed decisions in the future, so we have worked hard to create a health education program that is direct and straightforward. Our campers benefited from smaller group and individual counseling sessions that provided them with the safe space to voice their feelings, questions and concerns. This open communication allowed girls to seek help for some of the serious problems they are facing and for us to gauge the greatest needs of adolescent girls in the community.

Of course, camp also included down time for the girls to let loose and have fun with their peers. Soccer, races, games, storytelling and art projects were just some of the highlights.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 enabling us to spread our hopeful messages and important health and leadership information to girls who do not usually have access to such information.

Guidelines for Counselors
Guidelines for Counselors
Icebreakers
Icebreakers
Police share info on children
Police share info on children's rights
Mar 24, 2016

KCE 8th graders excel on national exam, start HS

Dear Friends,

I am writing to share our celebration of our 8th graders’ national exam results and their send off to their first year of high school. The shining smiles of students and beaming faces of proud parents lit up our campus in February as we gathered together to celebrate the graduating class of 2015.

The celebration, which included a shared meal, dancing, and an award ceremony, celebrated the amazing progress and accomplishments of these young women over the past four years and their stellar performance on the National Exams. Our teachers provided encouragement and reassurance to the girls as they started high school. Our tribal elders reminded our girls to remember their community as they forge ahead.

The scores tell the story behind our celebration

There was indeed a great deal to celebrate for our 8th graders as they ended one chapter and began another. In Kenya, all 8th grade students take the Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE) that determines high school placement. Students spend a considerable amount of time throughout their primary education preparing for this rigorous test with the dream of scoring 300 or above, which guarantees admission into a Kenyan National secondary school.

I’m proud to announce that every single student from the class of 2015 scored above the national average. This amazing accomplishment cannot be overstated. Our girls have a set a new standard of excellence at our school.

  • Our top student scored 385 marks (out of 500).
  • More than a third of the students scored above 350, the score needed for placement in Kenya’s most selective high schools.
  • 92% of our students scored over 300 points, the score needed for placement in our national schools.
  • The class of 2015 scored an average of 11 points higher than the class of 2014.

 

High school placement is the next hurdle

After exam results were announced, the high school application and enrollment process began. While high school placement is stressful for all families, we know that it is an even bigger hurdle for families who are going through this process for the first time. KCE works hand in hand with all of our families to navigate the placement process.

This year, the shortage of high school slots, including a shortage of national schools, was especially challenging this year, related to government quotas, an overcrowded educational system, and insufficient funding.

Although our girls far outperformed their peers in the district, only 6 of our 40 students were initially placed in high performing national high schools. This was unacceptable. We mobilized to enroll all 40 graduates in National and County-level schools. I commend my team on the ground in Kenya for their leadership, determination and pure grit in visiting multiple schools each day and traveling long distances to make it happen.

This year’s high school enrollment process underscored the urgent and growing need for academically rigorous high schools in Kenya. We are even more committed to building a new high school in Enoosaen that will ensure our girls are able to remain in a high quality school and reach their full potential. By 2018, we plan to begin enrolling our first class of high school students at a new K-12 school near our current campus.

As the class of 2015 embarks on their new journey, we are confident that KCE has prepared them for the challenges that lie ahead. These young women are no longer limited by the boundaries facing so many other girls in Kenya and around the world.

Be on the lookout for these girls as they make changes in their own lives and our world!

 

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