At the young age of 7, Angie and her siblings became orphans when their mother passed away. Whether deceased or simply never in the picture, she sums up the total existence of her father when she quietly states: “I don’t know anything about him.” The three children went to live with their grandmother.
In 2009, Angie was among the 100 students who applied for a spot at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Due to her status as an orphan she was accepted without question and began a new chapter in her life. When asked why she likes her new school, she offers the smallest crease of a smile and says softly, “Learning at KCE is good compared to my old school because the teachers here teach well, the uniforms are given without having to pay for them, and there are enough text books for all the students.” She says that these improvements, plus not having to be late to school due to household work, has led to a sharp improvement in her academic performance, making her the best student in her class.
Only 13 years old, Nasieku has experienced a great deal of hardship and has overcome many obstacles to pursue and education at Kakenya Center for Excellence. Now an 8th grader at KCE, Nasieku is the second youngest of 5 children. When she was young her parents divorced, and she remained with her mother, along with one sister and one brother. Her parents have a hostile relationship, and her father has disowned Nasieku and the two siblings who stayed with their mother. Nasieku’s two older sisters, who were raised by her father, were forced to undergo FGC. However, Nasieku’s mother wants her to continue with her education, so she was spared from being circumcised.
Nasieku is thirsty for knowledge and has always enjoyed going to school. Her life changed when her brother heard about KCE and told their mother that it would be a wonderful opportunity for his little sister. Since Nasieku’s mother is unable to afford the costs of education for her daughter, KCE provides Nasieku’s school fees and all her school materials. Since beginning at KCE, Nasieku has blossomed. “I learn about self-esteem, confidence, and about FGM… I learn about FGM and the effects… I feel empowered,” she says. She cries when asked about how KCE has impacted her life, expressing her deep appreciation for the school. Nasieku hopes to use her education to better her community and the world. “Education can help me to learn more things and to help many people in the community,” she explains. She dreams of becoming a policewoman someday.
Naanyu is 11 years old and is in 5th grade at KCE. When she was very young, Naanyu’s life took a tragic turn. In the heat of a terrible fight, her father murdered her mother. He then fled from her village and no one knows what has happened to him. Naanyu barely knew either of her parents, and she and her 5 siblings were left to be cared for by their grandmother and uncles. These relatives worked hard to provide the children with food, clothing, and shelter, as well as supporting their educational pursuits with limited resources and income.
When Naanyu’s grandmother brought her for an enrollment interview at KCE, she was accepted into the school with full financial support. Because she is an orphan, KCE covers all of Naanyu’s expenses, including school fees, uniform, toiletries, and school materials. She loves mathematics and dreams of becoming a doctor so that she can care for the sick and vulnerable. Naanyu is grateful for the knowledge she has gained as a student at KCE. “I did not know about FGM before I went to school, but I learned that it won’t be done to me,” she says. “If I can continue with my education at KCE, my life will not be the same.”
Jackline is 13 years old and has 13 brothers and sisters. She dreams of becoming a lawyer because, she says, she wants “to build a center like Kakenya has done.” With this center, Jackline wants to rescue girls from circumcision and early marriage. Her favorite subject in school is English and she loves storytelling and playing football.
Peyiai is 13 years old. She has 13 brothers and sisters from two mothers. Peyiai wants to become a pilot in the future. “I can help my community and fly to many countries,” she says. “I want to visit America.” Her best subject in school is mathematics. Peyiai says, “I will be happy when all the girls from the community have learned.”
Sakileny is 13 years old and has 8 brothers and sisters from two mothers. Her dream is to become a pilot “to visit many places like India and Egypt.” Her favorite subject in school is science because, she says, “I like to learn about bodies and agriculture. Sakileny also likes reading storybooks when she has free time.
Tasmi is 13 years old. She has 14 brothers and sisters from two mothers. When Tasmi grows up, she wants to be an ophthalmologist. She says, “I want to help people in my community without sight. There are many people who are blind.” She enjoys mathematics and science and she loves to study. “My friends say I am funny,” she says. “I like to make jokes.”
Sikukuu is 12 years old and has 13 brothers and sisters from two mothers. In the future she dreams of becoming a lawyer “to help people solve cases.” Her favorite subject in school is mathematics. Sikukuu likes playing football because she is very good and says she is happiest when she is with her friends.
Namnyak is 13 years old and has 5 brothers and sisters. She hopes to become a doctor because, she says, “nowadays many people are sick and I want to help them in the future.” Her favorite subject in school is science because “you need to be good at science to be a doctor.” Namnyak is happy when she is learning or playing games, especially volleyball, which is her best sport.
Sharon is 12 years old and has 17 brothers and sisters from three mothers. She dreams of becoming a brain surgeon in the future. “I want to operate,” she says. Sharon’s favorite subject in school is science because she says she understands it well. She enjoys reading storybooks and studying, and more than anything else she loves being with her friends.
Lepishoi is 13 years old and has 4 brothers and sisters. She dreams of becoming a pilot because she wants to be able to transport surgeons to help people in rural places. Lepishoi wants to visit the U.S. because she said she wants to know more about life in that country. Her best subject is mathematics. “It’s just about calculation and it’s fun,” she says. Lepishoi likes to read storybooks and have fun with friends. “My friends say I’m funny and I like to make them laugh.”
Emmaculate is 13 years old. She has 14 brothers and sisters from 2 mothers. Emmaculate dreams of becoming a lawyer “to help those who have been judged illegally.” Her favorite subject in schools is social studies because she says she likes the teacher and understands it. Emmaculate likes to chat with her friends and to study. About her personality, she says, “I’m very polite.”
Nenkoitoi is 13 years old and has 4 brothers and sisters. In the future, she aspires to be a cardiologist because “many people suffer from heart diseases.” Her favorite subject in school is mathematics. She dreams of visiting Canada one day and would like to study there. “My friends think I’m so funny,” she says.
Naomy is 14 years old. She has 6 brothers and sisters from two mothers. Naomy hopes to become a surgeon one day. “I want to be the only girl in our village who will be a surgeon,” she explains. Her best subject is Kiswahili. “I always score 70 and above. I’m always first,” she says. Naomy loves to spend time talking with her friends, discussing what they will become in the future. “We have group discussions,” she says. Naomy loves being a student at KCE. “When I was in my former school I was not able to score 300 marks, but here at Kakenya Center I am able to score 350 and above.”
Joy Naserian is 13 years old. She has 4 brothers and sisters. Her dream for the future is to become a doctor. “Many people in our area have not achieved this,” she explains. Joy’s best subject in school is science. “I practice a lot, I revise a lot,” she says. She likes playing netball, watching movies when she has the chance, and reading stories. She is proud to attend KCE and says, “Enkakenya has changed the life of many people.”
Yiamat is 13 years old and has 13 brothers and sisters from two mothers. Her goal is to become a judge someday. Yiamat says she wants to help her community to follow rules. Her favorite subject in school is social studies because, she explains, “it will help me to get my goal.” Yiamat loves to play volleyball and likes to make people laugh. “Kakenya Center pupils are very hardworking,” she says.
Juliet is 13 years old. She has 10 brothers and sisters. Juliet dreams of becoming a lawyer in the future. She explains, “I want to help people that are arrested.” Her favorite subject in school is English because she wants to speak English well. “It helps me talk to visitors who come from America,” she says. She likes making her friends laugh and playing games with them. “Kakenya Center has helped me in improving my academics,” Juliet says.
Nampayio is 13 years old and has 7 brothers and sisters. She hopes to become a lawyer one day. “Many people like corrupting and I can stop them,” she says. Her favorite subject in school is social studies because she usually gets 80 marks and higher. Nampayio loves reading storybooks. She also loves being a student at KCE because, she explains, “in this school you won’t be circumcised and we usually come to the holiday camp.”
Shura is 13 years old. She has 10 brothers and sisters from two mothers. Shura’s dream is to become a surgeon. “In our village most of the people are having health problems and no one can help them,” she says. Her favorite subject in school is science because she understands it well. Shura enjoys storytelling and reading funny books. She is proud of the way her performance has improved as a KCE student. “In my former school I used to score 100 marks and now I score 300 and above,” she says. Mercy is 14 years old and has 7 brothers and sisters.
Gladys is 13 years old. She has 12 brothers and sisters from two mothers. Gladys aspires to become a doctor to help the people in her community. Her favorite subjects in school are science and mathematics because she needs to understand them well to be a doctor. Gladys loves to study with her classmates and read storybooks. “My friends say I am fun and hardworking. Enkakenya has helped me in my life and here I perform well,” she says.
Mercy’s goal is to become a pilot. “I want to go to Canada and work there,” she says. Her favorite subject in school is mathematics because she likes calculating. Mercy also loves running and playing volleyball. She says, “This school supports parents who don’t have money, so it is a very good school.”
Kakenya is 13 years old. She has 14 brothers and sisters from two mothers. Kakenya wants to become a doctor because she can help so many people in her community. Her favorite subjects in school are mathematics and science because she says she understands them well. Kakenya likes to discuss education with her classmates. “I’m hardworking and kind,” she says. “I like running and volleyball. Kakenya Center for Excellence has changed my life and is supporting my education.”