Kakenya reads to the girls. Until now, the girls only had textbooks to read. It is important for the girls to become independent, life-long readers. Hopefully each visit to the school will bring a new suitcase filled with books! The school hopes to build in 2011 the village’s first library.
Most fathers in rural Kenya areas decide their daughter’s education will end and marriage begin by age 13. The region’s first and only primary school for girls is the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Its creation an act of sheer will, stubborn persistence, and inexplicable optimism on the part of Kakenya Ntaiya. This is a report of her recent visit to see her “daughters.”
By Kakenya Ntaiya, National Geographic Emerging Explorer
Greetings! I just returned from an exciting trip home to Enoosaen, Kenya and would like to share with you some highlights.
My visit to the village was filled with joyful moments as I visited with my family, friends and the community members at large. The very best part though was spending days at the Kakenya Center for Excellence – seeing and talking to my lovely daughters. My time with the girls was filled with laughter, play, and of course, dealing with the situations that come with being an adolescent girl. I also observed classrooms, met with parents and community leaders and worked on infrastructure improvements. In other words, while there we: planted banana trees, took the girls running, decided where a volleyball net might go, practiced algebra, danced and sang, introduced the girls to the internet and even Skyped to America – every moment was lovely!
I was also lucky to have two media-savvy volunteers from the Advocacy Project; during their week with us they helped us to capture wonderful images and stories. Thank you Brooke and Daniel for all your help!
The school has now been open for almost two years. In January, we will greet a new class and grow to 95 students in three grades. My six weeks visiting the school was an important time for assessing where we are now and where we are going. I brought an education advisor to Enoosaen during my trip and together we evaluated our programming, planned next steps for the building of the campus and continued to fine-tune how the school can best serve the village daughters.
My hope is that when our girls leave to go on to secondary school, they would have received a foundation that is as solid as any child in China, Europe, or America. When I shared that vision with the girls’ parents, a round of applause from them confirmed that this is a shared dream.
The immediate challenge is to get the girls into a real dormitory. Right now all of our 63 girls are sleeping in one of the empty classrooms (two to a bed!). We need to get a dormitory built and open for January enrollment! I’ll write more about that in my next newsletter to you.
I am continuously inspired and awed by the girls’ spirit and the joy infused throughout KCE. The girls are such eager learners; no matter their individual skill level, every girl is trying so hard and has big dreams.
The banana plants are the first of many new fruit trees to be planted throughout the school property. The banana seedlings were generously donated to the school by Kakenya’s family!
Thank you again for the support you have given. Your commitment to these girls has allowed us to provide them with an opportunity to become what they hope to be. We could not be doing this without you. A special thank you to those who donated the storybooks that filled our suitcases – it is the first time the girls have something to read besides a textbook, I wish you could have been there to witness their joy.
Photographs courtesy Kakenya Center