What’s in a uniform? In the case of the Kakenya Center for Excellence school for girls in Maasai Kenya, just about everything. Gaining a uniform means casting aside what are often ragged clothes and well-worn shoes and enabling a girl to become a confident member of the school community. Our photos of new students indicate no smiles and downcast faces in arrival clothing and jubilant faces once they acquire their uniforms. This project will provide five fourth-grade girls with new uniforms, including shoes, two dresses, two sweaters and athletic clothes.
Uses of Funding:
Leather shoes: $22. each
Athletic shoes: already funded
Socks: already funded
Tie: $1. each
Uniform dress (2): $11. per girl
Shirts (2): $8. per girl
Sweater: (2) $14. per girl
Athletic shorts: $4.
Subtotal: $64 for 1 girls’ uniform; $320 for 5 girls’ uniforms
All girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence (which begins at grade 4) come from other local co-end schools that require the purchase of a uniform (dress and sweater) for US$50. Many families cannot afford this cost and if forced to choose, would send a son rather than a daughter to school. Other girls wear hand-me-downs from older sisters. By the time they arrive at the Center, most girls have never had a new piece of clothing in their lives. <br />Girls arrive at the Kakenya Center for Excellence as an undervalued member of society, accustomed to constant chores and commands from their elders. Until recently the role of Maasai girls was predestined—they were betrothed at an early age, expected to undergo female genital cutting (FGC) at puberty and shortly thereafter, marry and bear children. But the Kakenya Center is changing that norm—parents are now standing up for their daughters’ right to gain an education and speaking out against FGC and early marriage. <br />
<p> The Center encourages girls to thrive in a nurturing environment. New students learn to relax, look up, and start smiling. And nothing marks their transformation better than their exciting acquisition of new uniforms in the colors of the Maasai (see photos). The uniforms purchased from funds donated to this project will help instill confidence and growing self-esteem while providing much-anticipated clothing for new 4th grade students. Could these traits be a factor in academic achievement? In late 2010, division exam scores placed KCE as Number 2 of 29 schools, and 4 of its students were in the Top 10. </p>
Assisted by two committed, volunteer boards of directors (located in Kenya and USA), the project will be executed by Kakenya Center for Excellence founder and president, Kakenya Ntaiya. Currently a Ph.D. candidate in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education, Kakenya has worked with several key leaders in Kenya and the United States of America to realize her dream of building her home community’s first school for girls. Beyond the walls of the school, she speaks at events and to organizations worldwide to raise awareness of the needs of young women in Kenya and the importance of girls’ education. She also founded a mentoring program for Maasai girls in her home community in Kenya. <br />More information about the school is available at http://www.kakenyasdream.org <br />
12 JUN 2011Roughly one month after spring camp at the Kakenya Center for Excellence primary school for girls in Maasai Kenya, our friends at Hewlett-Packard delivered a truckload of computers to both KCE and the neighboring secondary school for girls. The photos are so palpable, you can feel the wonder and the joy of the girls in receiving these priceless gifts. Peace Fellow Charlotte Bourdillon of the Advocacy Project wrote first a blog about the delivery, and later another about the girls tapping at the keyboards after installation. The girls have received their new computers from Hewlitt-Packard, now help them get their uniforms and see the excitement even a simple gift can bring!