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.
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!

Feb 24, 2016

Camps and Counselors with a Purpose

Our most recent Health and Leadership Camp in the Transmara District in Kenya filled 214 girls with anticipation and excitement as they arrived on campus for a week of both traditional camp activities and important learning experiences about their rights as girls.

In many ways, our Health and Leadership Camps, held in April and December, are similar to summer camps throughout the world. Hosted on our campus, our week-long holiday camps provide girls with a chance to come together to explore new ideas, make new friends and discover themselves at a critical time in their development. In Enoosaen, our camp is quite unique, providing girls not only with a fun holiday but with vital information about their sexual health, FGM, child marriage and its consequences, their legal rights and leadership skills.

During our December session, 25 alumnae from our KCE boarding school served as counselors at camp. These young women, now in grades 9-11 have a profound influence on the younger campers. Their self-assurance, knowledge and confidence are shining examples to younger campers of what can be achieved through working hard and continuing their education. I am forever grateful that our graduates return to take on these leadership roles at camp – inspiring the next generation of girls!

Each day, campers met informally in small groups to reflect on the day and discuss important issues. A highlight for campers was to listen to our high school counselors share stories about the expectations and realities of high school. The informal setting for these dialogues allowed campers to ask some tough questions of our counselors and to connect to older peers that inspire them to dream and reach for their goals.

Our workshops during camp are straightforward and honest about challenges girls face. Through hands on activities the girls learn life skills that can help them progress safely and confidently through high school and into adulthood.  

Of course, camp is not all lectures and lessons! Story telling, the talent show, “quiz night” and movie night provide a chance for the girls to relax and have fun. This year a group of volunteer coaches from Tag Rugby Trust coached the girls during our athletic time. The girls loved learning this new sport!

At the end of the week, we held our annual graduation ceremony for girls that have attended both our April and December camps. This milestone event is always a highlight of the year at KCE, bringing together community stakeholders such as parents, teachers, elders, and local officials to celebrate the achievement of our girls.

The music, award ceremony, prayer service and luncheon attracted both local and national media coverage!

Our camps fill a critical need in Kenya. December can be a dangerous time for young girls in Kenya, as it is the time of year when female genital mutilation ceremonies occur throughout the region. Our graduation ceremony provides the community with an alternative rite of passage that celebrates the dreams and success of these young women while sending a message that FGM will no longer be tolerated and revered as the only option for girls. This year the girls chose a “theme” for the graduation ceremony “I know my rights, a girl is an equal child”.

We first started the Health and Leadership Training program in 2011 to address the needs of thousands of girls in our district who need this vital training to learn about their rights and inspire their hope for the future. Our Health & Leadership Camps now reach 3,000 adolescents each year through our weekend trainings and week-long camps.   The growth of this program is a true testament to the need for accurate and reliable information on sexual health and legal rights for our youth. It is also a testament to the constant support we receive from supporters like you. Thank you!

 
   

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