Education
 Kenya
Project #5574

Support girls' primary education in Maasai Kenya

by Kakenya's Dream

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

The Day of the Girl March in Enoosaen
The Day of the Girl March in Enoosaen

On October 12, 2015, Kakenya Center for Excellence celebrated the International Day of the Girl (IDG) with many others around the globe. This year’s theme for IDG2015 - The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030 - recognized the importance of investing in adolescent girls’ empowerment and rights today and in the future. During the last 15 years, the global community has made significant progress in improving the lives of girls during early childhood, but there has been insufficient investment in addressing the challenges girls face when they enter adolescence. These challenges include obtaining quality secondary and higher education, avoiding child marriage, receiving information and services related to puberty and reproductive health, and protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and gender-based violence.

Kakenya Center for Excellence is part of the solution for girls. We tackle challenges facing girls of all ages with our comprehensive boarding school program for girls in the 4th-8th grade, our health and leadership education camps that have impacted thousands of additional girls from many schools, and our Network for Excellence that supports girls who have graduated from our school while they are in high school. Our approach is an important part of the gradual change in attitudes and the growing support for girls’ education in our village.

During our International Day of the Girl celebration, more than 450 girls from five regional schools joined us in a 5K march through the village, bringing their voices and energy throughout the Transmara. Businesses came to a standstill as the girls shouted messages such as, “Unite to end violence against women! Education for all! End child marriage! Educate me, don’t cut me!” The luncheon that followed on KCE’s campus gathered community leaders, parents, teachers, and students together for speeches, presentations and traditional dancing, which was a clear demonstration of strong participation from our greater community.

In addition to the festivities in Kenya, our girls’ voices were heard around the world at the United Nations celebration! We are delighted to share with you a poem written by four KCE students which was showcased at the 2015 Day of the Girl Summit in New York.

We are so proud that our students are using their voices to celebrate their own achievements, to advocate for the rights of all girls, and to increase awareness about the inequalities that girls face simply because they are girls.

Thank you for supporting our girls’ dreams and for supporting KCE’s direct services and our role in the broader community advocating for girls!

Student Poets
Student Poets

Dear Friends,

Hope you are having a wonderful summer. 

In 2009 we opened our doors to the first class of 30 girls.  Today it remains the only girl's boarding school in the region, now serving 183 girls in grades 4-8 and 55 graduates in high schools throughout the country.  Our girls are flouishing and our school is playing a critical role in changing the paradigm of girls' education in our country.  We are so grateful for the support many of you have given us from the onset, none of this would be possible without you!

I'm keeping this update short and sweet because sometimes pictures simply speak louder than words.  Our hearfelt thanks to Sofia Wittert for capturing the spirit of our girls. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friends,

While there are millions of things about Kakenya Center for Excellence that make me smile every day, one of the greatest joys for me has been to watch the girls graduate from KCE and continue into high school.

55 girls have spread their wings and left our nest!

They are succeeding academically, physically, and spiritually in high schools around Kenya. To witness this transition has been an extraordinary experience for me.  I’m in awe of them all!

Our graduates, who are now part of our Network for Excellence program, were recently back on the KCE campus for 10 days of academic review, leadership training, and of course, fun. We provided a structured and nurturing environment where they could study and reconnect with old friends. The girls shared stories about their high school experiences with each another and with our 7th and 8th graders.  In addition, they finished homework assignments and worked with tutors on weak subject areas.

Here is what some of the girls said when asked, “How did KCE help you prepare for high school?":

  • I have gained self confidence. I can say no or yes and mean them.”
  • “KCE has improved my communication skills and enabled me to stand on my own principles.”
  • “KCE has helped me to be an excellent leader in my community.”

When asked about the Network for Excellence program, students replied:

  • “It has helped me because mentors have been teaching us how to cope with the situations in our daily lives.”
  • “I have older people to share ideas with about my future and get advice.” 
  • “It has helped me to know how to give back and to know the kind of friends I have.”

Thanks to the concerted efforts of our trained staff and mentors, our girls are truly supported and continue to thrive. Navigating high school can be hard for anyone, but especially for girls who may be the first in their family to go to high school. We recognize this challenge and are committed to providing extra support and guidance to these girls throughout their high school education.

 

Thank you for your support! Have a wonderful summer!

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
 

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Organization Information

Kakenya's Dream

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.kakenyasdream.org
Project Leader:
Kakenya Ntaiya
Founder
McLean, VA United States
$9,257 raised of $20,000 goal
 
195 donations
$10,743 to go
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