Last week, I joined together with parents, grandparents, siblings, community members and the entire KCE family to pray for and encourage our 40 eighth grade girls one last time before they sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Examinations, which will determine their high school. This important milestone means that our girls have completed their primary level education at KCE and have all avoided female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage.
As we prayed together, I saw a group of girls that was very different than they were when they enrolled in the Kakenya Center for Excellence in 2011. Now our girls are full of hope, determination and confidence that they will tackle the exams with all the knowledge they have gained at KCE. I am thankful to our dedicated staff, teachers, parents, mentors and facilitators who took time to walk with the girls through this journey — and to every donor large and small who believed in the work we do.
With your support, KCE continually provides a safe space for girls in our community to learn and grow. Over the last five years, we have employed every technique possible to prepare these students to excel on this exam. So much has happened since they arrived on our campus! Some did not know how to write their names, others were very timid; many did not have any hope that they could reach their dreams. Today their stories are very different.
Kenya Certificate of Primary Examinations are key to determining which high school the girls will attend. In Kenya, as in many parts of the world, this exam defines the future of a student. I wish it was different, but for now I ask all of you to remember our girls over the next three days as they chart their future!
To our girls, we send the very best wishes and love!
|Kakenya Ntaiya, PhD|
|Founder & President, Kakenya Center for Excellence|
December In My Village
Blog Posted on the United Nations Foundation GirlUp Blog December 19, 2014
By: Kakenya Ntaiya
December is a dangerous time for young Maasai girls. During this month, they are home from school for the holidays and at higher risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced early marriage. Although the girl I describe here does not attend our school (KCE)—she and others like her are part of my home village (pictured), and I have a genuine concern for each of them.
Naomi, who is 13 years old, just completed 8th grade, and was home for the holidays. One morning before sunrise, she began her daily chores—including cleaning the mud hut, gathering firewood, and fetching water. Her mother and brothers were away at the outdoor market. As Naomi and her little sister worked, a group of men called for Naomi from outside the hut. They grabbed her and carried her away. Naomi’s sister ran to the market to find her mother, who immediately reported Naomi’s disappearance to the village chief. Although the chief promised to look into the matter, so far neither he nor the chief of police has taken any action. Naomi’s mother was told not to worry; that her daughter has been married to a good husband.
Girls should never be taken against their will and forced to marry or undergo FGM. At KCE, our mission is to end this type of violence against girls forever. Our school and health and leadership trainings are teaching girls to protect themselves through self-defense skills, legal rights, and health education. Girls in my community and their families know that they can rely on me for help and defense if needed. I am doing everything in my power to find Naomi and return her to her mother, and I will not stop until she is safe.