Leadership Training for Girls in Maasai Kenya

by Kakenya's Dream
Vetted

Greetings from Enoosean:

Our Health and Leadership Trainings change lives. On June 25th, Kakenya Center for Excellence completed another successful Health and Leadership Training, adding another 358 youth to the more than 3,500 young people our trainings have already empowered through education. Our efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage through community engagement brings together students from neighboring schools and communities to discuss issues affecting girls’ education and health. This Health and Leadership Training was hosted by Olalui Primary School and brought together 173 teen girls and 185 teen boys from four nearby schools.

The two-day training was lead by members of I Am Worth Defending, a comprehensive sexual assault prevention organization for adolescents. Sessions were specially designed for the girls and boys based on their gender-specific training needs. The girls’ targeted training consisted of sex education courses that discussed adolescent sex and reproductive health.Girls were introduced to self-defense strategies and gender equality philosophies, empowering them to be assertive and set boundaries when interacting with their male counterparts.

The boys’ training aimed to create awareness and responsibility for the unique challenges facing girls. Their activities sought to challenge unequal power relations between males and females through the adoption of core rules and life skills geared towards behavior change. The guidelines challenged the participants through discussions and activities to trade harmful masculine practices for positive practices in favor of a gender-just society.

The goal of our Health and Leadership Training is to educate and engage the community in a conversation about violence against girls and women. Our hope is that the information received during training is transferred to the broader community. We assess our results through the personal successes of our students. These trainings express to all youth attending and the wider community that girls’ health and education matters while providing girls and boys with the knowledge and tools they need to combat gender-based violence.

Every aspect of these vital trainings is made possible by the generosity of donors, both large and small. Without the support of GlobalGiving, we would not be able to provide these services to the thousands of youth and their communities we serve in rural Kenya. Thanks to your continued involvement, our program will positively impact even more adolescents this coming year. Thank you! 

Campers are welcomed to camp
Campers are welcomed to camp

Greetings from Enoosaen!

I am excited to tell you about our most recent health and leadership camp, held this past April during school holidays. Now in its 6th year, the program has not only earned a solid reputation among neighboring school leaders, but it is also highly sought after by the teens themselves.

Each participating school sent three 6th grade students for the week of training, which, in addition to our 6th graders, brought our total number of participants to nearly 150. The size and duration of the camp requires us to prepare for the camp several weeks in advance and to hire extra cooks, guards, matrons, educators and counselors to facilitate. I’m grateful to the “behind the scenes” team who dedicated many hours ordering food and preparing for the opening day!

Our counselors arrived before camp began for a day of training. Most of our counselors are current high school students that have graduated from our boarding school and have personal experience with both our health and leadership camps and our health and leadership boarding school curriculum. These counselors are on the front lines with the campers, helping them navigate our campus, facilitating reflection time and spearheading games and events during downtime. I love watching the counselors take these young campers under their wings and create a supportive bond.

As always, we covered tough issues in our training sessions. Topics ranged from harassment and gender-based violence to legal rights on child marriage and FGM. We know that girls armed with accurate information about their bodies and sexual health will be better prepared to make safe and informed decisions in the future, so we have worked hard to create a health education program that is direct and straightforward. Our campers benefited from smaller group and individual counseling sessions that provided them with the safe space to voice their feelings, questions and concerns. This open communication allowed girls to seek help for some of the serious problems they are facing and for us to gauge the greatest needs of adolescent girls in the community.

Of course, camp also included down time for the girls to let loose and have fun with their peers. Soccer, races, games, storytelling and art projects were just some of the highlights.These camps are one of the most exciting, effective, and fun elements of our program, and we are so grateful for the supporters who partner with us to allow them to continue. Thank you for enabling us to spread our hopeful messages and important health and leadership information to girls who do not usually have access to such information.

Guidelines for Counselors
Guidelines for Counselors
Icebreakers
Icebreakers
Police share info on children
Police share info on children's rights

Our most recent Health and Leadership Camp in the Transmara District in Kenya filled 214 girls with anticipation and excitement as they arrived on campus for a week of both traditional camp activities and important learning experiences about their rights as girls.

In many ways, our Health and Leadership Camps, held in April and December, are similar to summer camps throughout the world. Hosted on our campus, our week-long holiday camps provide girls with a chance to come together to explore new ideas, make new friends and discover themselves at a critical time in their development. In Enoosaen, our camp is quite unique, providing girls not only with a fun holiday but with vital information about their sexual health, FGM, child marriage and its consequences, their legal rights and leadership skills.

During our December session, 25 alumnae from our KCE boarding school served as counselors at camp. These young women, now in grades 9-11 have a profound influence on the younger campers. Their self-assurance, knowledge and confidence are shining examples to younger campers of what can be achieved through working hard and continuing their education. I am forever grateful that our graduates return to take on these leadership roles at camp – inspiring the next generation of girls!

Each day, campers met informally in small groups to reflect on the day and discuss important issues. A highlight for campers was to listen to our high school counselors share stories about the expectations and realities of high school. The informal setting for these dialogues allowed campers to ask some tough questions of our counselors and to connect to older peers that inspire them to dream and reach for their goals.

Our workshops during camp are straightforward and honest about challenges girls face. Through hands on activities the girls learn life skills that can help them progress safely and confidently through high school and into adulthood.  

Of course, camp is not all lectures and lessons! Story telling, the talent show, “quiz night” and movie night provide a chance for the girls to relax and have fun. This year a group of volunteer coaches from Tag Rugby Trust coached the girls during our athletic time. The girls loved learning this new sport!

At the end of the week, we held our annual graduation ceremony for girls that have attended both our April and December camps. This milestone event is always a highlight of the year at KCE, bringing together community stakeholders such as parents, teachers, elders, and local officials to celebrate the achievement of our girls.

The music, award ceremony, prayer service and luncheon attracted both local and national media coverage!

Our camps fill a critical need in Kenya. December can be a dangerous time for young girls in Kenya, as it is the time of year when female genital mutilation ceremonies occur throughout the region. Our graduation ceremony provides the community with an alternative rite of passage that celebrates the dreams and success of these young women while sending a message that FGM will no longer be tolerated and revered as the only option for girls. This year the girls chose a “theme” for the graduation ceremony “I know my rights, a girl is an equal child”.

We first started the Health and Leadership Training program in 2011 to address the needs of thousands of girls in our district who need this vital training to learn about their rights and inspire their hope for the future. Our Health & Leadership Camps now reach 3,000 adolescents each year through our weekend trainings and week-long camps.   The growth of this program is a true testament to the need for accurate and reliable information on sexual health and legal rights for our youth. It is also a testament to the constant support we receive from supporters like you. Thank you!

On October 23-24, we held our last health and leadership training of the year for 275 boys and girls. Our Health and Leadership training for 4th-7th grade students was hosted by the Olereko Primary School and attended by students from Mapashi Primary school, Enolkipelia Primary School and Erishata Learning Centre. Our training teams included the I am Worth Defending Team from Nairobi and the Centre for Adolescent Studies and Wezesha Foundation from Kilgoris. 

Our weekend training included two days of hands-on learning. We were thrilled that both male and female teachers were not only present for the trainings, but fully engaged throughout the weekend as well.  In the weeks following the training, the support and knowledge from the participating teachers will strengthen and reinforce our message for youth.

 As we do in every session, we asked the teens directly about the issues they felt were most pressing in their lives and what topics they would like covered during our weekend training. Overwhelmingly, the girls asked us to focus on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), HIV/AIDS, self-esteem, leadership and peer pressure.  The boys requested information on leadership, sexuality and peer pressure. Additional topics include team building, self defense and children’s rights.

 Our trainers facilitated an open and frank dialogue where teens felt respected and understood, which remains a strong tenet of our program. I’m pleased to share a few quotes from our girls:

  • “Our teachers were Ann and Caro. I particularly enjoyed that I learned how to prevent contracting HIV/AIDS, and how to take care of myself as a girl.”  – Mapashi
  • “I feel we should have such a seminar every month!” – Olereko 
  • "Our teachers taught us to be obedient to our parents and teachers and remain focused to attain our goals." – Enolkipelia

We are now diligently working on more thorough evaluation measurements to ensure effective programming that resonates powerfully with teens in 2016.

I am pleased to share with you an update on our weekend Health and Leadership Training programs! This summer we hosted two programs at Ildolisho and Shaankoi primary schools. Attendance soared at both events, with an average of 400 students  in grades 5-8 participating at each camp.

Each day began with “ice-breakers” -- interactive games that brought students from different schools together as a group. Students really had fun and embraced team spirit.

The trainings for both the boys and girls focused on legal rights to education, self defense, adolescent and reproductive health, sexual and gender based violence, HIV/AIDS, drug and substance abuse, life skills and leadership.  Our goal in these sessions is not only to give teens the tools to face day-to-day challenges, but to give them the tools to be able to share their skills with their peers.

Our trainers were impressed by the level of maturity these students had in discussing challenges that they and their peers face, especially on topics considered taboo in the Maasai community.  Host teacher Mr. Sikawa said, “This training is going to the grass root. I personally find it very strategic and helpful.”

The inclusion of boys for one day of the weekend program has been a resounding success. Attendance has blossomed and the number one question from boys is often “Can we stay for day 2?”

 Here is what some of the boys said about camp:

  • “I have learned how to be a good leader”
  • “I have learned that every child is entitled to an education (in Kenya)” 
  • “A gentleman does the right thing at the right time”

 The girl’s sessions dealt with some tough questions on FGM, gender based violence and abuse. We are committed to ensuring that victims of violence have the resources and skills to seek help and to break the dominant culture of silence in their community. The highlight of our girl’s session was, as usual, the self-defense class where certified trainers teach hands on techniques.

Here is what some girls said about camp:

  • "I have learned how important girls are to society"
  • "I now know how to avoid danger"
  • "I can now comfortably stand in front of the whole school and say no to FGM"

We realize how vital these camps are to teens in Maasai Kenya. For most participants it is the first time receiving information on their legal rights, their sexuality, and adolescent health. As we continue these weekend camps, we are looking for ways to remain engaged with past participants and to provide continued resources for teachers, parents and teens.

Thank you for your support. Together we are giving young people the tools they need to soar!

 

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Organization Information

Kakenya's Dream

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.kakenyasdream.org
Project Leader:
Jennica Sehorn
Washington, DC United States

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