Joyce Meng's Blog

See Beautiful Features Givology

We’re incredibly honored to be chosen as See Beautiful’s December 2011 featured non-profit! For this month, a portion of the profits go to us, so any holiday purchase you make goes towards helping our students and projects! In addition to being beautiful gifts, all products are either handmade, hand-pressed, organic, recycled and/or fair trade. (As for myself, I’m partial to the aluminum cuff bracelet.)

When we first heard about See Beautiful, the mission of the organization really resonated with us, especially since we strongly champion girls’ education and empowerment. As we’re all constantly inundated by advertisements and media portrayals of beauty ought to be, it’s really great that See Beautiful helps girls and women see the beauty they inherently possess. As a movement, See Beautiful hopes to counter-act pop culture to embrace individuality and the beauty of being oneself.

Check out See Beautiful’s website and browse their products!

We decided that in the spirit of See Beautiful’s mission, 100% of the profits that we receive from their sales will go to Kakenya’s School for Excellence. Kakenya endured much hardship to start her own school for girls – to help them find a better life for themselves and discover their own self-worth. In her own words:

My life was set to follow the traditional path of all girls born in the small Maasai village of Enoosaen, Kenya where I grew up. Engaged at the age of 5, I was to be circumcised by the time I became a teenager—an event that would mark the end of my education and the beginning of my preparations for marriage.

But I had a different plan. First, I negotiated with my father. I would willingly agree to be circumcised (a practice known as Female Genital Cutting) only if he would allow me to finish high school. He agreed. Then a few years later I negotiated with the village elders to do what no girl had ever done before: leave my village in southern Kenya to go to college in the United States. I promised that I would use my education to benefit Enoosaen. Showing their support, the entire village collected money to pay for my airfare to the United States.

I received a scholarship to Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Virginia. Once the girl who grew up without electricity, I became the student who wrote papers on international relations and political science on the computers at the university library. In September 2011, I received a Doctorate in Education from the University of Pittsburgh

Throughout my time in the United States, I have engaged in efforts to promote awareness of the issues affecting girls in my community. As the first Youth Advisor to the United Nations Population Fund, I have traveled around the world to speak on the importance of educating girls, particularly as a means to fight the practices of female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Today, I am working to fulfill the promise I made years ago: to return to my village and give back. I am building a girls' school in Enoosaen so that the lives of other young African girls might forever be altered through education, empowerment and leadership. This is my dream.

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