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!
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!
Through its Network of Excellence, Kakenya’s Dream administers a mentorship program to provide our students with a safe space to build their self-esteem, develop their voices, and overcome negative peer pressure. Before COVID-19, we partnered with an external organization to find recent college graduates to serve as mentors by working with students at our campuses, holding sessions on personal and professional development, and communicating with their mentees throughout the year.
This year, we adjusted our mentorship model so that over 200 of our current scholars will be paired with 46 KCE alumnae who are currently enrolled in college. Having once been in the shoes of our current students, our new mentors will be better able to identify with the challenges their mentees face. We are currently training alumnae to become front line experts, leaders, and positive role models for our younger girls, and, in the process, continue to challenge the outdated social and cultural norms in their communities. Following the training, mentors and mentees will meet every week to assist with schoolwork and provide support around communication, health, leadership, and job preparation.
Ann, who I remember from when she first enrolled at KCE I, is one of our new mentors. Her time at KCE has motivated her to give back to her community and inspire future generations:
“The mentorship program at Kakenya’s Dream is important because I am learning how to guide my peers and those who are younger than I. Previously, we were mentored by people who we did not even know, but now we can mentor younger girls in our program since we can relate more with them. I will be able to empower my mentees to avoid the harmful cultural practices in our community...I will be able to tell them the importance of education in their lives and the dangers of getting married at an early age.”
We can’t wait to see how women like Ann will impact current KCE students. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for helping us inspire a future generation of changemakers in rural Kenya.
Happy holidays and best wishes for the new year,
Our planned activities for the year have, of course, taken an unexpected turn with the reality of the global health pandemic. With the spread of COVID-19 and school closures around the world, many aspects of Kakenya’s Dream’s operations - including our Health and Leadership Training - have been delayed, suspended, or otherwise modified. Kenya's schools have been closed since March and the government recently announced that they will remain closed through the rest of the year. Our girls do not have access to any kind of learning materials in their homes without Kakenya’s Dream support and, if left unaddressed, this would cause them to fall behind their peers in more resourced locations who are able to continue learning through radio programs, Whatsapp, and other media. We also know that in addition to missing academics, girls are lacking medical care, counseling, and reproductive health attention and information that we provide. Unfortunately, the longer our girls are away from school, the greater their risks and challenges are when they finally do return.
Our team has quickly pivoted our planned activities to immediately address these concerns and have been busy implementing new measures to protect and support our girls through this time. In May, we launched the Angaza Project, meaning “shine” in Swahili. Through the Angaza Project, our team is providing care packages to our students and their families that include the basic necessities they lack at home, such as soap, feminine hygiene products, and food staples. We also purchased solar-powered radios to allow the girls to access the lessons being delivered through national and local radio stations by the Ministry of Education, as well as solar lights, story books, textbooks, and other learning materials. We will be regularly distributing supplies as long as the crisis continues and hope that this support will mitigate some of the challenges our girls are facing while at home.
Additionally, COVID has only exacerbated the already alarmingly high rates of teen pregnancy in our region. Even before the pandemic, our communities have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country, currently at 40% - over twice the national average of 18%. Our team recognizes we need a stronger prevention strategy to combat early pregnancy and provide training on healthy interpersonal relationships. Beginning this fall/early winter, we plan to launch a community advocacy radio program to educate teenagers and young adults about how to be in control of their bodies, avoid unintended pregnancies, and learn about responsible family planning. We look forward to sharing more information in the next upcoming report - in the meantime, please sign up for our newsletter and connect with us via social media to get the latest updates!
Thank you for your continued belief in our work and your unwavering support of our girls. We are in this together.
We hope you are staying safe and healthy as we all face unprecedented challenges.
Thanks to your support, we started our school year off with lots of exciting activities. We welcomed new classes of 4th and 9th graders, our handball team came in first in the zonal competition, and our girls participated in a sub-county wide science fair. Then the global health crisis put everything on pause.
In times of uncertainty such as this, I see the best of our community emerge. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all who have asked, “How can we help?” As one of our most important supporters, I want to tell you how the pandemic has impacted our girls.
Like in many parts of the world, all schools in Kenya are closed until further notice, including our two campuses. The reality of a global health crisis is particularly devastating for vulnerable populations. We are more concerned than ever for the wellbeing of the girls we serve, as they will be more susceptible while at home to female genital mutilation, teen pregnancy, and early marriages. Our schools provide them with physical safety as well as nutrition and mental health services.
Another major threat we currently see is the spread of misinformation and knowledge gaps. Most of our girls’ parents are illiterate, and none have access to the internet. My team and I are actively looking for ways to continue to support our girls and their families as we navigate this difficult time. Aside from your amazing financial support, if you are looking for ways to help, here are some ideas:
Please remember: YOU make our work possible. Thank you for standing with our girls in good times and these difficult times.
We will get through this together and continue to build a better world for girls everywhere.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Pay Bill: 891300
Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.Start a Fundraiser