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 26, 2015

Adapting to Meet the Needs of All Girls

Girls in our April Camp
Girls in our April Camp

Dear Friends,

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.

Sincerely,

Kakenya

Posters from Self Defense Training
Posters from Self Defense Training
Mar 20, 2015

Strengthening Foundations & Cultivating Community

New Uniforms
New Uniforms

The Kakenya Center for Excellence campus is located in Enoosaen, a Maasai village of about 10,000 people located 250 miles west of Nairobi. In 2009, on land donated by community elders, we built our two-story classroom that became the anchor for our first class of 32 students. Today, with 183 girls enrolled at KCE, our campus has become a foundation in the community. We are not only changing the lives of the 183 girls that live on our campus, but are changing the social norms around educating girls in Enoosaen; and challenging our community members to reconsider harmful traditional practices such as FGM and early marriage that endanger the lives of their daughters.

Living on campus is a tremendous benefit to our girls, which I cannot begin to emphasize enough. Our campus provides a safe space for girls to live and study. Living on campus gives the girls more hours to focus on schoolwork, greater access to teachers, and enables them to form lasting friendships with classmates. Perhaps most importantly, our girls have an overwhelming sense of pride about our school campus.

As our student enrollment and community involvement grows, we continue to dedicate energy and resources to our campus infrastructure. Recently the dorm walls were freshly painted inside and out, new mattresses were purchased, a local carpenter built additional classroom chairs and tables, our teachers moved into new housing, and we broke ground on another academic building. I'm proud to have new accommodations for teachers that provide every teacher with a private space on campus near our students.

On February 18th community leaders, parents, teachers and students held a groundbreaking ceremony on campus for the new classroom building which will house 3 classrooms and a library. We are excited about the new library, which will provide a dedicated space for our books and e-readers, and a quiet space for teachers and students.

While the structural foundations of our building continue to grow and strengthen, we continue to nurture the personal foundation of all our girls at KCE as well. Leadership building, health education and preservation of culture are integrated into our curriculum at all levels.

Thank you for your steadfast support as we continue to strengthen our foundations and cultivate community!

New Teacher Housing
New Teacher Housing
Kakenya shares plans of the new academic building
Kakenya shares plans of the new academic building
Jan 20, 2015

December in my Village

Local officers facilitate some safety trainings
Local officers facilitate some safety trainings

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!

Team session
Team session
I
I'm Worth Defending teaches self defense to girls
 
   

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