I write now from Washington D.C. where I have been spending some time over the past couple of weeks preparing for my role as an AP Peace Fellow for the six months to come. Part of what I am doing here in D.C., the capitol of all things non-profit and international, is collaborating with the many people who have a stake in Kakenya Center for Excellence and enabling it to succeed in laying a strong and sustainable organizational foundation. In the broadest sense, the primary aim of my fellowship is to strengthen this organization, even more so than the daily programmatic responsibilities that may take up the majority of my time. There is a lot at stake in making this school a successful model for using education for social change in Kenyan schools.
The Kakenya Center for Excellence only opened in May of 2009. It is a compelling idea with fantastic leadership on the part of Kakenya herself, and it is a game changer for the girls and future women of Enoosaen. Yet it still faces several challenges to becoming a sustainable organization in the long term. Over the next six months we are planning to do some much organizational strengthening and self-assessment. To start this off, Kakenya and I have been strategizing about my work plan for the months ahead and focusing on logistics for some of the more immediate tasks ahead: setting up a computer lab with computers donated by HP and coordinating a leadership camp that aims to provide resources to all local girls, not just those who are enrolled in the Center for Excellence.
Today I leave for Nairobi, where I will make a brief stopover on my way to Enoosaen, Kakenya’s village and the home of the Kakenya Center for Excellence. The task before us is both thrilling and bewildering. Yet being here in D.C. and working with the amazing team of dedicated individuals on this side of the ocean reassures me that as an organization we have not only the necessary vision but also the necessary tools and resources at our disposal.
What is so critical about providing education with respect to improving women’s rights? Kakenya says it herself: “for women, it stays with them forever.” 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.
I am the first AP fellow to serve a full placement with the Kakenya Center for Excellence, but I follow three prior AP fellows who have visited and blogged about the KCE for shorter periods of time while profiling several orgainzations. Brooke Blanchard was there in 2010, and in 2009 Luna Liu and Kate Cummings visited as a part of their fellowships with vital voices. Have a look at their blogs to get a better idea of the background of the KCE and check out some profiles of students and Enoosaen community members!
Posted By Charlotte Bourdillon
Posted Mar 7th, 2011