Our boarding schools, the Kakenya Centers for Excellence, currently serve 245 girls in grades 4-10 in a safe environment while providing holistic support, including healthy meals, uniforms, hygienic needs, and more. While 80% of Maasai girls in our region continue to undergo female genital mutilation when they reach adolescence, our program protects girls from this practice and incorporates health and leadership elements that allow them to pursue their own dreams.
Maasai Kenya has traditionally marginalized girls' primary education, with teachers focusing on boys in overcrowded classrooms. The girls are expected to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) and drop out of school at puberty, then marry and have children. Girls are aware that they come second in line after all boys and have neither the self-confidence nor the motivation to pursue their dreams. Instead, they are taught to accept their culturally assigned roles of young wives and mothers.
In an all-girls environment, girls lose their fear and secondary status and gain confidence and motivation to succeed in school. The on-campus dormitory ensures that the girls have time for study and bonding, eliminating the need to walk long distances and do home chores away from school. Through health education, the girls, parents, teachers, and community leaders have abolished female genital mutilation for KCE students. We depend on donors to sustain our work.
With sustained funding, the KCE community can continue to eliminate FGM from the community as a whole. Spring and summer camps provide girls from outside schools to learn health education and leadership training and an opportunity for KCE girls to serve as mentors. Through outreach efforts like this, KCE hopes to eliminate high rates of HIV-AIDS and teen pregnancy in the region. Our most critical goal is for girls to score well on the 8th-grade exams to enter quality secondary schools.
Kakenya chosen as a CNN Hero
Kakenya's TEDx talk
Story of Kakenya video with Diane von Furstenberg