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Kakenya's Dream - educating girls can change the world!

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Joan Woods


Kakenya Ntaiya had a dream where all the girls in her village could go to school. Her own life was supposed to follow the traditional path. Engaged at age 5, she was to be circumcised by the time she was a teenager, an event that would mark the end of her education and the beginning of her preparation for marriage. But Kakenya had a different plan. First, she negotiated with her father: she would be circumcised only if she could also finish high school. He agreed. Then she negotiated with the village elders to do what no girl had ever done: leave her Maasai village of Enoosaen in south Kenya to go to college in the United States. She promised that she would use her education to benefit Enoosaen. The entire village collected money to pay for her journey. Kakenya received a scholarship to Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Virginia. The girl who grew up without electricity wrote papers on international relations and political science on the computers in the university library. She went on to the University of Pittsburgh, where she received her Doctorate in Education in 2011. Kakenya is now fulfilling her promise to her community. As the founder and president of Kakenya Center for Excellence, a girls’ primary boarding school in Enoosaen, Kenya, Kakenya believes that education will empower and motivate young girls to become agents of change in their community and country. The Center opened its doors in May 2009 and currently has nearly 200 students in grades four through eight. The boarding school has become a beacon of hope to the girls and parents in Enoosaen. Kakenya’s vision has expanded to include a mentoring and networking program for girls in high school who have graduated from her boarding school and to deliver weeklong health and leadership training to an additional 2,000 girls. She travels around the world as a passionate advocate for girls’ education, which she sees as a crucial tool for fighting the practices of female genital mutilation and child marriage. Your investment in Kakenya’s dream is an investment in girls – we can change the world!




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