Charlotte Bourdillon (Kenya)


Charlotte Bourdillon

Charlotte Bourdillon (Kakenya Center for Excellence – KCE): In the summer of 2009, Charlotte worked with an indigenous women's weaving group in Temuco, Chile. She received her B.A. in Community Health and International Relations from Tufts University in 2010. Prior to her AP fellowship, Charlotte also worked with a health and community-led development initiative in Haiti, called RESPE:Ayiti. Charlotte also interned at Physicians for Human Rights in Cambridge, MA. After her fellowship Charlotte wrote: “I can look at so many deliverables that I am proud of; things I am especially happy to have been able to achieve in the low-resource area I was working in."



19 Sep

Quilting Project Update!

I mentioned before that one of my goals here is to create a set of advocacy quilts. These will be parallel quilts created by a widows’ group and the girls at our school, demonstrating, respectively, the traditional oppression of Maasai women and the opportunities that education will afford young Maasai girls. Cleia documented the quilting […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Sep 19, 2011

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16 Sep

The quietest agent of change

Rose, a teacher with fifteen years of experience, has always wanted to help needy girls stay in school. She does what she can, helping to put 6 girls through school and take care of them on school holidays. “I just think, if I had a lot of money, wow… I feel I am not doing […]

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Posted Sep 16, 2011

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14 Sep

Prohibition of FGM/C in Kenya!

Some are calling it “Independence day for women.” MP Sophia Abdi Noor said, “Men got their independence in 1963 – but today women have achieved independence from the cruel hands of society.” This week two anti-FGM/C laws were passed in the Kenyan parliament as part of the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill. These laws […]

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Posted Sep 14, 2011

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03 Sep

Ask the boys: “would you like to have a circumcised girl or uncircumcised?”

In this post I want to explain how activist Helen Rotich has addressed the male and youth angles of eradicating FGC. One of the most interesting misconceptions about the grip that FGC has on the Maasai is  that it is driven by males, where as in fact the practice is perpetuated just as much and […]

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Posted Sep 03, 2011

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02 Sep

From circumcision to construction: economic incentives for dropping the knife

Helen made some very interesting decisions in how to incorporate the traditional female circumcisers in the Anti-Feminine Genital Mutilation program she started in coordination with the Women’s Federation for World Peace and the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization. This post is an elaboration on the program I mentioned in my last post. Please forgive the length, […]

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Posted Sep 02, 2011

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31 Aug

How one Kipsigis woman is tackling FGC

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23rZTnZixqA Over the next couple of days, I want to highlight the work of Kenyan women’s activist Helen Tapelei Rotich, featured in the youtube clip above discussing her own circumcision. Helen is a fantastic example of a Kenyan woman taking innovative and “homegrown” approaches to eliminating the practice of FGM. In the past ten years […]

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Posted Aug 31, 2011

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13 Aug

In Enoosaen, sometimes price of skyrocketing food costs is education

In Kenya, there is a brewing but less noticed hunger crisis (and not only in the drought-affected northern areas). This CNN World article explains that prices in Kenya have risen faster than the global levels, and that Kenya’s problems have “been exacerbated by other factors, such as high fuel costs to transport food, the weak Kenyan shilling and maize export bans by neighboring countries” such as Tanzania, which recently imposed its own maize export ban to preserve domestic food security. In addition, because of the drought in the north, there is simply less food, and much of what little remains is being bought up to improve food security in the north.

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Posted Aug 13, 2011

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12 Aug

Trying out new things in the classroom

The organization is stepping in to take advantage of the opportunity to give an extra enrichment program during “tuition period.” This leaves me in charge (ha!), and a lot of room for innovation!

Posted By Admin

Posted Aug 12, 2011

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11 Aug

Transmara Sugar Company

See anything ruining the view from the idyllic riverside property of the EnKakenya Centre for Excellence in the photo below? Sure the Transmara Sugar Company factory isn’t photogenic, but its worst impacts on the area are yet to be felt. The Transmara Sugar Company broke ground in 2010, and hopes to be operational by October […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Aug 11, 2011

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02 Aug

For child rights in rural Kenya, the law is not enough

One year in prison and a six hundred dollar fine for cutting off your daughter’s genitals by force and forcibly marrying her as a 13 year old. Is that punishment enough to deter? Not at all. The damage done to a girl through circumcision and forced marriage can be a lifetime challenge, a lifetime sentence, compared to the meager punishment for those who contravene the law.

Posted By Admin

Posted Aug 02, 2011

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10 Jul

Who are the “rescued” girls?

Miriam comes across more like any lively, athletic American sixteen year old than any other girl I’ve met here in rural Kenya, yet she bears the burden of a difficult journey to becoming the confident person she is today. She is one of the over 50 “rescued” girls, as they are known, for whom Counselor […]

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Posted Jul 10, 2011

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08 Jul

Counselor Caroline’s crusade to rescue girls

Last week I visited St. Josephs girls’ primary boarding school, which also doubles as the only Kilgoris area “rescue centre” for girls (currently 53) who have run away from their families to escape early marriage and circumcision. The rescued girls are brought to the school’s gates by 4 different organizations, and one incredible woman named […]

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Posted Jul 08, 2011

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30 Jun

Mwalimu Masake and MEPERI: Teacher vs. Tradition

This week Cleia and I were fortunate enough to accidentally meet the subject of this profile, Simon K. Masake. No one had yet mentioned him during my investigations into who are the real loudmouths or leaders in criticizing FGM, but as the head teacher at Nkararo Primary public school he is a community leader and […]

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Posted Jun 30, 2011

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26 Jun

Tapping into tribalism?

There are several common reasons people present for why FGM is “bad”: girls tend to get less education because they leave school to get married too early; it is dangerous (especially because of HIV); it is frowned upon by the church; it is outdated. But another simultaneously fascinating and slightly disturbing trend is poking its […]

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Posted Jun 26, 2011

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26 Jun

Hazards of Birth with FGM in Transmara

Giving birth in Africa is already a dark experience for most of the continent. In an area where FGM is almost ubiquitous, birth is an even more cruel and unforgiving obstacle in the life of a woman. Circumcision often leaves a women with a mass of scar tissue around her vagina. That scar tissue can […]

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Posted Jun 26, 2011

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16 Jun

Nurses behind the knife

The more people I talk to, the more complex is the tale about how the culture of FGM pervades and persists in the Transmara area of Kenya. One facet of this story that intrigues and disgusts is the fact that some health professionals, and specifically nurses, are now going underground to perform these illegal procedures. […]

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Posted Jun 16, 2011

3
08 Jun

First in the Division

In April, at the end of term 1 (the school system here runs on a year round schedule of trimesters), our sixth graders competed in division wide exams. So, the results comparing our school to 25 other public schools in the division are finally in…and we’re number one! The tests included sections for maths, English, […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Jun 08, 2011

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07 Jun

Rwanda, Nairobi, and a new Peace Fellow

Over the past week I have been absent from the blog and from Enoosaen because I took some time off to visit Rwanda (Kigali and Gisenyi) and Nairobi. I got another unexpected stamp in my passport due to an unplanned overnight layover outside of Kampala, Uganda. Thanks to my dear friends Helaina Stein (see her […]

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Posted Jun 07, 2011

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07 Jun

What we do in 60 seconds!

Thanks to some high(er) speed internet in Nairobi, I was finally able to post some videos that I had started preparing ages ago but thought I might never be able to upload! Here is one that we prepared as a promotional video that had to be under 60 seconds. It is sort of a quick […]

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Posted Jun 07, 2011

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07 Jun

Students from the Mara – video

Had some great internet in Nairobi, so I was able to upload this footage to youtube. I thought it might be interesting to see Perenai and Ryle, the girls about whom I have written a couple of times. Here is the interview I took with them on video, before I had visited their hometown of […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Jun 07, 2011

1
24 May

Karibuni our new dorm!

For weeks all the staff have been inundated with questions. “Teacher, what day will we move into that building? Have you seen isn’t it beautiful?” Today, the waiting came to an end. I wanted to just quickly share a few photos especially for those of you who have been fundraising for and worrying about and […]

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Posted May 24, 2011

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23 May

Pusanki: An even more challenging educational terrain

A couple of weekends ago, I made a trip that involved 3 matatus, 4-5 hours on the road, and culminated in an hour and a half walk into the deep forested bushland adjacent to the Maasai Mara. Passing the last big town (although it lacks a bank and pretty much every service that implies somewhere […]

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Posted May 23, 2011

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22 May

Already tapping away

I wanted to share with you a photo of our students in our new computer lab! The computers at our school have been arranged in small clusters to promote group learning. This is to mirror the innovative (for a Kenyan primary school, at the least!) clustered seating that Kakenya has pushed for in the classrooms […]

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Posted May 22, 2011

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20 May

The man who would not waste his daughters

On Wednesday I met another captivating figure in the anti-FGM scene. Paul Ole Sire might at first glance seem to be a patriarch steeped in tradition; he is a man with 4 wives and 24 children, after all. Yet he is perhaps one of Enoosaen’s most interesting agents of change for the oppressive cultural traditions towards female children.

Posted By Admin

Posted May 20, 2011

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19 May

Thanks, HP!

Today an unusual sight rolled into Enoosaen as truckload of computers donated by HP arrived at the doorstep of the town’s two girls’ schools. The Enoosaen Boys’ Secondary School has had a computer lab for years, reinforcing the inequality in the local educational system that girls face.

Posted By Admin

Posted May 19, 2011

6
19 May

Contact me

Hello all: After my friend Helaina Stein’s Rwandan mobile miracle, I was reminded that I have been meaning to post my contact information. If for any reason you’re interested in getting touch while I am here, I can be reached by phone at +(254) 710569925 I can also receive mail and packages at the following […]

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Posted May 19, 2011

1
16 May

The strength to stand out

“They asked me to undergo FGM in December 2009 but I refused. When the results came out I requested my father to take me to form one. He kept quiet and left. He never wanted to talk to me or hear anything about me because I refused to undergo F.G.M.”

Posted By Admin

Posted May 16, 2011

7
16 May

The Red Earth

Don’t hit a cow while driving in Maasailand.

Posted By Admin

Posted May 16, 2011

1
11 May

Jerrycan joy

I almost involuntarily followed the sounds of beats and exultant chants coming from the stairwell. There I found a legion of girls like Maasai Kakenya, above, banging out rhythms with sticks and hands and the jerrycans with which they fetch water from the river.

Posted By Admin

Posted May 11, 2011

3
05 May

Going the distance and the importance of boarding school: “If you see an elephant…”

A girls’ boarding school might sound very old-school British, but it is a game changer for girls’ education in a rural area like Enoosaen and the surrounding isolated areas.

Posted By Admin

Posted May 05, 2011

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30 Apr

Camp, cutting, and courage

“Charlotte, she won’t speak,” Kakenya Centre for Excellence student Vivian told me. She was talking about her holiday Health and Leaderhip Workshop/Camp mentor partner, Beatrice, from one of the surrounding schools from an even more rural area.

Posted By Admin

Posted Apr 30, 2011

1
30 Apr

What keeps me busy?

I wanted to empower the permanent members of this project rather than interrupt the systems that may already work for them. The funny thing is I’ve spent a month now learning, watching, and listening, and I no longer hold the naïve belief that not stepping on toes is always compatible with moving a project in the right direction.

Posted By Admin

Posted Apr 30, 2011

2
18 Apr

An “Emerging Explorer” and a re-emerging technology

Last week Dr. Thomas (T.H.) Culhane, founder of SOLAR CITIES, and his team paid us a visit at the school to build a kitchen waste biogas digester. The CITIES acronym stands for “Connecting Community Catalysts Integrating Technologies for Industrial Ecology Systems.” Right now SOLAR CITIES is concentrating on helping people build these compact kitchen waste […]

Posted By Admin

Posted Apr 18, 2011

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16 Apr

In the classroom

On my way to observe her class, I found Margaret dashing into the teachers’ office holding a bunch of flowers announcing, “These are my teaching tools!” Here are some photos to showcase the inspired teaching here in the Enkakenya Centre for Excellence.

Posted By Admin

Posted Apr 16, 2011

1
15 Apr

One Month in Enoosaen

I arrived here more than a month ago and I think I have finally gotten my bearings. So, what is my life like here?

Posted By Admin

Posted Apr 15, 2011

3
07 Mar

From here to Enoosaen

Role models like Kakenya and model schools like the KCE change the idea of education and motivate a community to raise educated girls. Parents, Kakenya says, “see that it is possible and everybody wants the same thing for their daughters.” I am so eager to see what this looks like in practice.

Posted By Admin

Posted Mar 07, 2011

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