Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya

by Kakenya's Dream
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Support girls' education and end FGM in Kenya
Fourth grade applicants line up at KCE I
Fourth grade applicants line up at KCE I

Between March and April, our eighth and twelfth grade students took their Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams. These important national tests determine students’ high school and university or college placements respectively. They also marked a series of firsts for Kakenya’s Dream. Our eighth graders made organizational history by hitting our highest ever average scores in their KCPE exams with a mean of 348 out of 500 marks! Likewise, the twelfth graders’ results scored in the top five of our sub-county of 36 schools. We are tremendously proud of their hard work and perseverance, which was all the more impressive given the 2021 condensed academic year that reduced their time to prepare and study. 

After KCPE exams finished in March, our latest cohort of fourth grade students enrolled at the Kakenya Center for Excellence I (KCE I), where we received 237 applicants to fill 40 spots. These new students come from distinctly marginalized backgrounds, with a majority having parents or guardians that did not complete any formal education. 

Working in a heavily rural area, we have many students with similar backgrounds, including Mercy, a current seventh grader. Before coming to KCE I in 2018, Mercy crossed a river every day barefoot in order to go to school. Besides often missing school whenever the river’s water levels rose during heavy rains, Mercy doubted she would be able to finish her education at all as she watched her older siblings drop out due to lack of fees. Thankfully, she heard about how KCE I offered scholarships to students in similar situations and persuaded older relatives to take her to our enrollment interviews. Being accepted into our school gave her a huge sense of relief: “I was so happy. I knew the struggle of crossing the river would end." 

Now a confident, driven student, Mercy dreams of becoming a doctor: "My favorite subjects are mathematics and science. I want to be a physician to help my community in treating the sick." Her determination to continue learning inspires us to ensure that every girl, no matter her family’s background or financial situation, can access a quality education and pursue her career goals. 

At our boarding high school campus, the Kakenya Center for Excellence II (KCE II), we enrolled our new ninth graders, interviewing 88 applicants for 37 openings. The total current enrollment for KCE I is 195 students and for KCE II, 129 students. The 2022 school year began in late April with our team hitting the ground running for students, who will once again be under immense pressure to concentrate on their exams and complete the government-mandated school curriculum within seven months before the 2023 school year begins next January.

With the new school year underway, we are deeply grateful for supporters like you who ensure that our students have everything they need to succeed academically, emotionally, and physically. Thank you for your continued dedication; we look forward to sharing more updates with you in a few months!

Twelfth graders say farewell to KCE II in April
Twelfth graders say farewell to KCE II in April
New ninth graders move into KCE II
New ninth graders move into KCE II
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Good luck ceremony for our Class 8 students
Good luck ceremony for our Class 8 students

In December, students at our Kakenya Center for Excellence I campus (KCE I) sat for practice exams with four other primary schools in the area. We are happy to share that their performance ranked first, demonstrating their preparedness for the end-of-term exams they took later. After a brief holiday, our girls returned to school on January 3 and 4. Class 8 students are currently engaged in intensive study for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), which is a national exam that determines their secondary school placement. These students will take the KCPE in early March; to commemorate this momentous undertaking of theirs, we recently held a ceremony to wish them good luck and congratulate them for all of the hard work they have put into their studies over the past five years.

One of our most recent additions to the KCE II campus, which is our secondary school, is a two-level library, which was completed last August. Since December, we have been furnishing it with textbooks, storybooks, desks, chairs, and other furniture. The library will be a hub of intellectual curiosity and learning for our girls, with regular activities planned to promote a culture of reading and improve literacy outcomes for incoming students. We anticipate opening the library in the next couple of weeks.

A solar panel system was also installed on the grounds of the KCE II campus in October to provide consistent electricity for the whole school. Because KCE II is located in a rural location, connectivity was often unreliable and our students experienced regular blackouts. The addition of 60 solar panels, amounting to 30KWH and powered by seven solar charged batteries, ensures our girls, teachers, and staff have continuous uninterrupted access to electricity. 

The KCE II campus continues to grow with ongoing construction of a new dormitory and two classrooms. Construction began on the dormitory and first classroom in September and we expect both buildings to be finished within the quarter, with the dormitory capable of housing 48 girls and the classrooms to include a teachers’ office. Construction on the second classroom will begin sometime this spring and is slated to be completed by late summer/early fall. With this campus expansion, we look forward to providing more girls from the surrounding area with our holistic education and reducing their likelihood of early marriage, FGM, and teen pregnancy.

Thank you so much for your support, which continues to create immense impact for our students. Keep checking in with us for further updates throughout the year!

Staff sort through books for the new library
Staff sort through books for the new library
The new solar panel installation
The new solar panel installation
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Our completed library
Our completed library

In February, we began building a Library on our Kakenya Center for Excellence II (KCE II) campus. The need for this Library arose to supplement the school curriculum and to create a culture of reading and intellectual exploration for our girls. Construction was completed in August and now, we have been acquiring furniture, books, and other materials to create welcoming gathering and learning spaces in the Library.

To foster an atmosphere of curiosity and expose our girls to a variety of perspectives, our Library, which will be available to all surrounding schools in the community, will be equipped with learning resources that have a special focus on literature by African authors. To date, we have already acquired over 650 storybooks with literature by African authors and storytellers.

Once the Library is fully stocked, we look forward to instating a Read-A-Thon for our students. The Read-A-Thon will encourage students to read for leisure and provide a fun opportunity to challenge students to read at least two books each week.

Besides expanding our range of educational services through the Library campus expansion, we encourage our students to participate in extracurricular activities that expand their understanding of the world and develop leadership skills. In early October, two KCE II students, Vivian and Violet, won prizes at the annual Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) National Science & Technology Exhibition. The Exhibition, which is an initiative of the Ministry of Education and the Government of Ireland, showcases innovative STEM projects developed by high school students all over Kenya. Out of a total of 64 projects presented by 120 students at the Exhibition, they placed second in the nation in the Chemical, Physical, and Mathematical Sciences category with their project, “The Sabash Formula”. Our girls’ achievement is made all the more remarkable given the traditionally male-dominated field of STEM and the lack of encouragement for girls to pursue these topics. Through the example of Vivian and Violet, we hope to instill a sense of curiosity for a variety of experiences in all our students that leads to more diverse career paths and economic opportunities.

As 2021 comes to an end, we look forward to providing updates of our comprehensive approach to girls’ education and the Library’s positive impact on our girls for 2022 and beyond!

Violet (left) and Vivian (right) celebrate the win
Violet (left) and Vivian (right) celebrate the win
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Our library under construction
Our library under construction

Despite the difficulties of the past year, we remain determined to expand the range of services that we offer. Over the past few years, we identified significant gaps in the availability of books and adequate healthcare, and resolved to expand the range of services that we provide beyond the government-mandated curriculum. This past February, we began construction of a Library on our Kakenya Center for Excellence II (KCE II) campus to foster a lifelong love of learning and the pursuit of knowledge. Reading is key to building children’s vocabulary, expanding their imagination, sparking curiosity, and improving critical thinking. We expect the library to be completed next month.

The ongoing COVID pandemic has underscored the importance of health education. Over the course of the past year, the lack of basic healthcare services in the communities where we work has become more apparent than ever. Not being able to see a trustworthy practitioner or receive general health services hinders youths’ ability to access education, in turn, adversely affecting enrollment, attendance rates, and retention. This year, we are beginning construction on a youth-friendly Health Clinic, also located on our KCE II campus, so that our students and other members of our communities can receive objective information as well as reproductive and general health services and care. We anticipate that the center will be accessible to our community in 2022.

We look forward to providing updates on the positive impacts that our new library and health center have on our communities in the years ahead!

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Studying in the classroom
Studying in the classroom

After 10 long months, Kakenya’s Dream fully reopened its two campuses on January 4! Our girls were excited to see their teachers, matrons, staff, and friends, and to continue their education in a safe and nurturing environment.

Our teachers, staff, and students are acutely aware that COVID-19 remains a threat, and have taken strict precautions to avoid the spread of the virus by forming a learning “bubble” on campus. Prior to our students’ return, our faculty and staff received COVID-19 training so that they could uphold strict health standards and protect our girls’ wellbeing. We also supplied each student, teacher, and staff member with double-layered cloth masks upon their return. For a month, we performed daily temperature checks on our students and enforced strict mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing protocols. With no symptoms of COVID-19 present on our campuses, our students are now able to continue learning without masks within the safety of the campus “bubble.”

Linet, one of our Class 7 students, says that being back on campus has brought her a great sense of happiness: “I’m happy sharing the dormitories with my classmates, especially my bedmate. She makes me laugh before I go to bed...even competing with other people in sports, you feel like you’re happy everywhere you go.”

Despite the joy on campus, our girls faced emotional stress at home related to abuse, the pressure to get married, and other cultural barriers. Our initial priority was our girls’ nutritional and physical health, but we are now focusing on their mental health and wellbeing. Our experienced school counselor is supporting our students by helping them overcome any trauma they faced at home and ensuring that any new mental health needs are addressed promptly. Once our girls’ physical, nutritional, and mental health needs are met, they will be able to concentrate on their studies and more effectively make up for lost time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but we are excited to see what our students will achieve now that they are back in the optimal environment to thrive and achieve their potential.

We look forward to providing you with more updates on our girls as the year progresses!

Playing outside
Playing outside

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Organization Information

Kakenya's Dream

Location: Arlington, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @KakenyasDream
Project Leader:
Kakenya Ntaiya
Founder
Arlington, Virginia United States
$22,545 raised of $35,000 goal
 
337 donations
$12,455 to go
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Pay Bill: 891300
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