Over the past several months, many new and exciting developments have taken place at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Currently our school has 123 students in grades 4 through 7. The new term has begun and the girls continue to make great progress as students and leaders. They are as excited as we are about the programs we have implemented in 2011 at our school in Enoosaen, Kenya. A few of these are highlighted below:
Health and Leadership Camps: Beginning in April 2011, Kakenya Center for Excellence expanded leadership opportunities to all girls in the community through special summer and holiday camps. The camps are designed to meet several objectives: to increase girls’ knowledge about health and leadership related skills; to give girls in the community access to the fun and inspiring educational resources available at Kakenya Center; to foster long-term mentorship relationships between Kakenya Center students and girls in the community; to further disseminate our students’ skills and knowledge; and to empower and motivate young girls in our community to achieve their full potential. In these camps, regularly enrolled students act as peer educators and role models for the girls that are not enrolled at the school. Kakenya Center for Excellence girls are required to follow up with their peer mentee during the school holidays. The camps’ creative activities foster personal empowerment and leadership skills, catered to twelve- to fifteen-year-old girls. The camps in 2011 were able to reach 130 girls from around the community. Our goal in 2012 is to reach 200 girls.
Kakenya talking to girls at the December 2011 health and leadership camp
Field Trips: Most Kakenya Center for Excellence students had never left the village before they enrolled at our school. With this in mind, we began a program of field trips in conjunction with our academic curriculum in social and environmental studies. In April, the students at Kakenya Center were able to go on their first field trip ever. The girls in grades 4 and 5 traveled to Rusinga Island for a day, and the girls in grade 6 went on an overnight adventure to Lake Nakuru National Park and the surrounding area. These trips help the girls see beyond their own community, broadening their horizons and giving them opportunities they had never had before. The students had a wonderful time and are looking forward to their next field trip in 2012. Future potential destinations include Maasai Mara, Ancient African rock art sites and the Mombasa coastal areas of Kenya.
Girls from grades 4 and 5 on their trip to Rusinga Island
Spelling Bee: In August, we held our first school-wide Spelling Bee. The girls studied lists of 100 English words for a month in preparation for the competition. The Spelling Bee took place on a Sunday afternoon. All the girls who took part in the competition received ribbons of participation and the top ten finishers won bigger prizes. This was a fun way to motivate our girls to excel academically.
Top finishers from the Spelling Bee showing off their prizes
Technology: Facilitated by a donation from Hewlett-Packard earlier this year, our campus is now equipped with a computer lab. Our students and staff are taking part in IT classes, learning typing and computer skills. We plan to open a computer lab for the community, as well, allowing many people their first opportunity to access the Internet and use online resources. Our goal is to prepare the girls for their computer science courses in high school. Usually, this course is offered to boys and not girls because of the cultural assumption that girls do not perform well in science courses.
Kakenya Center students working together in the computer lab
Quilting and Beading Projects: The art of beading represents a non-destructive Maasai cultural tradition, and our aim is to preserve this positive practice by educating our girls about the Maasai history of beading. It also provides a therapeutic and creative outlet for girls who may not have other ways to express themselves, and it raises awareness about the oppression of women in our society through images. In order to document the historical oppression of women, the project is being done in partnership with the Rehema Widows Group. The women from this community group and our girls are depicting scenes of their lives and experiences to share with one another. The girls in fourth and fifth grade are starting their art project by making beaded bracelets, another Maasai tradition. The project will enable the girls to learn from one another and from the older women.
A student working on her quilt panel
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