Education
 Kenya
Project #5574

Support girls' primary education in Maasai Kenya

by Kakenya's Dream
Vetted
Girls adding responses to the IDG banner
Girls adding responses to the IDG banner

With the holidays upon us, I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I reflect on the amazing support you have given to our girls. 100% have avoided female genital mutilation, remained unmarried, and stayed in school. Thanks to you, hundreds of girls are receiving the life-changing education they need to achieve their dreams, lift up their families, and transform the world.

The difference you’re making in the lives of our girls was shining brighter than ever on the International Day of the Girl. Every year on October 11th, communities and organizations around the world celebrate this special day. In our community, parents and friends gathered at the school to celebrate with our girls. In addition to singing, dancing, and eating together to honor the day, we also asked our girls to complete the statement “I am a girl, I have the power to…” Here’s what they said: 

“I am a girl; I have the power to be educated.”

“I am a girl; I have the power to fight for the rights of girls to be educated in society.”

“I am a girl; I have the power to be the President of Kenya.”

“I am a girl; I have the power to change my society.”

Thanks to your support, our girls not only dream of making the world a better place; they know they have the power to do it. We are preparing to begin a new school year in January and to welcome a new group of girls who will soon benefit from the education and empowerment made possible by your generosity. 

On November 15th and 16th, hundreds of rising fourth grade girls came with their guardians to the Kakenya Center for Excellence boarding school for enrollment. The girls represented over a dozen schools and localities. The enrollment process involves an assessment test, interviews with the girls and their family, and gathering official information about the girl and her academic record. This year, 40 girls were selected based on need and academic ability to attend the school in January 2017. We are so excited to see their lives transformed!

Happy holidays to you and your family, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping us transform the lives of girls in rural Kenya.

A prospective student waiting for her interview
A prospective student waiting for her interview
Welcoming remarks at the start of enrollment day
Welcoming remarks at the start of enrollment day

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Naanyu
Naanyu

Last week, our girls returned from their August break to find their classrooms and dormitories illuminated by solar energy, thanks to our partnership with We Share Solar! We continue to support girl’s primary education in Maasai Kenya through strategic partnerships aimed at improving the quality of education we provide. Each We Share Solar Suitcase includes high-efficiency LED lighting, a universal cell phone charger and outlets for 12V DC devices. This new source of clean, stable and renewable electricity will ensure our girls can study and feel safe at any hour of the day.

This exciting new addition to campus comes just in time for our eighth grade girls to start preparing for the national exam in November. Students, teachers and staff alike are all working hard to ensure our girls have the knowledge they need to perform well and continue achieving their dreams. Our holistic education model continues to produce some the highest test scores in the nation; last year, our average test score was 340, compared to the national average of 180. Eighth-grader and class president Naanyu says she is studying hard so that she may get into a top high school and eventually become a doctor. “Kakenya built a school for the community,” she says, “I want to be a doctor and build a hospital for my community too.”

At KCE, improving women and girls’ access to resources, like power and knowledge, so that they may achieve their dreams and improve their communities is at the center of our mission. Thanks to our partners, like We Share Solar, and the essential support of donors like you around the world, we are bringing these essential tools to the girls who need it most.

Our girls admire a new solar-powered lightbulb
Our girls admire a new solar-powered lightbulb
Boat ride on the lake
Boat ride on the lake

KCE is committed to providing our girls with opportunities for exploration outside of the classroom as an integral component of their education. Each academic year, every class of girls takes a field trip outside of the village to visit another part of Kenya. This is a way to enhance their classroom learning in subjects like social studies and science by giving them tangible experiences to bring their learning to life.

Early one morning this spring, 37 sixth graders and 10 staff, teachers and parents embarked on our annual 6th grade field trip from rural Enoosaen to the port city of Kisumu. Located in the greater Lake Victoria basin, Kisumu is a 4-hour bus ride from Enoosaen through the fertile Kano and Ahero plains. Believed to be one of the oldest settlements and trading ports in Kenya, the city of Kisumu is now the third largest city in Kenya. Kisumu is a central hub with bustling city life and a striking range of scenery, exotic wildlife and beautiful beaches.

The day was filled with many “firsts” for our girls as they explored the largest city in the Nyanza region of Kenya.The first stop of the day was the Kisumu airport. Our girls watched passenger planes take off and land and witnessed the work of air traffic controllers as they managed air traffic operations. At the adjoining weather station, the girls learned about the functions of weather instruments and the science of meteorology. The opportunity to see airplanes up close rather than from a great distance was fun for the girls. We definitely now have some budding pilots in our 6th grade class!

The next stop, Lwang’Ni beach and the shores of Lake Victoria, was perhaps the most popular stop of the day. Coming from the pastoral village of Enoosaen, experiencing such a large body of water was an eye opener! At Lwang’Ni beach, the girls loved watching the famous fishermen arriving with fresh caught fish. The highlight of the visit was a motor-boat ride where the girls enjoyed the lake breeze. The visit to the larger port provided our girls with the opportunity to see the commercial docks. We were lucky enough to witness a Tanzanian ship coming to dock. The dockmaster was kind and knowledgeable and took the girls through the functions of the docks and the various vessels. The girls were even treated to a rare tour inside a private passenger ship to get the real feel of travelling by water on a large ship!

Later on, the girls experienced the Maasai lions, African leopards and Sitantunga antelopes at Kisumu Impala Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a real gem — and our girls were in awe of the breathtaking views of Lake Victoria and the nature trails that allow you to immerse yourself in the natural habitat. The sanctuary staff demonstrated their appreciation for wildlife and instilled the importance of conservation efforts with our girls.The last visit of the day was to the Kisumu Museum where the focus was on the history of the Luo people, their homesteads and traditional artifacts.

Our annual field trips open our students to new perspectives, expanding their awareness of their larger community, and letting them connect the dots between the classroom and real life experiences.We are so grateful, as always, for individuals like you that help to make these hands-on experiences possible for our girls! 

Watching the airplanes take off and land
Watching the airplanes take off and land
Group photo in front of Lake Victoria
Group photo in front of Lake Victoria
Checking out the wildlife
Checking out the wildlife

Links:

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!

Happy New Year!

Last week our campus was abuzz with excitement as our school and our students welcomed 40 “little sisters” to the fourth grade class at the Kakenya Center for Excellence (KCE)  in Enoosaen, Kenya. Amongst the new students was a 10 year-old girl named Faith whose story remains in my heart. 

I met Faith during our enrollment day in December. Our campus was filled with scores of fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles and grandmothers hoping to enroll their children at KCE for the 2016 school year.  Girls and their families - more than 230 girls came to apply that day - were busy with the exams, paperwork and interviews necessary for acceptance to our program.

Faith, however, was all alone.  No mother, father, aunt, uncle or grandmother had accompanied her that day.

Although Faith had successfully navigated much of the day, she began to cry as her interview approached when each girl and her family would talk about why she should enroll as an incoming 4th grader.  As I listened to Faith, I was inspired by her grit and determination to seek an education for herself.  

Faith’s parents had denied her permission to interview at KCE. Her father was very sick in the hospital, and her mother was working at a neighboring farm to provide food for the family.  Determined to interview at KCE and get into school, Faith took an egg from her mother and sold it to purchase the pencil needed to take the KCE entrance exam.

Faith said: “I want to join this school, Kakenya. Please.”  I comforted Faith, and assured her that she would attend KCE in January. Faith is exactly the reason I started this school – to help the girls in the most desperate situations go to school and dream bigger.

The next day, as I was walking to school, Faith came running towards me with a big smile on her face. She hugged me and stayed there a while – she did not want to let go!  Faith had brought her mother to meet me.  As we walked, her mother spoke.  “Kakenya”, she said, “I do not have anything to send this girl to your school. I know Faith will need a mattress, a blanket, a uniform, food, books and much more.  I cannot provide that.” I assured her that KCE would provide everything Faith needs to be successful.  “All I need is for you to bring Faith to school on opening day,” I replied.

Last week, Faith and her mother arrived at school empty handed, but with hearts filled with promise and hope. Everything Faith needed was waiting here for her.  

While Faith’s personal journey to join KCE is unique, her dream for an education is not.  I continue to meet girls who are determined to seek an education at all costs.  I am grateful that we are here to support, challenge and provide for these girls as they dream big!

Your financial support makes our school and our comprehensive approach possible. Thank you to all of you who have invested in Faith’s dream and the hopes of all our girls.

Gratefully,

 

Kakenya

 

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Organization Information

Kakenya's Dream

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.kakenyasdream.org
Project Leader:
Jennica Sehorn
Washington, District of Columbia United States
$9,077 raised of $10,000 goal
 
188 donations
$923 to go
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