Megan Orr

Megan Orr (Kakenya Center for Excellence - KCE): Between 2006 and 2009, Megan studied graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), where she studied Sociology, Film & Digital Media. Megan also worked as the Program Coordinator at the UCSC Women’s Center, where she organized Lunafest, a national traveling film festival of films by, for, and about women. Megan then worked as an Associate Video Editor for 'the Muse,' an online video periodical, and a freelance Videographer for AOL's national news website, After her fellowship Megan wrote: “I learned a tremendous amount about Maasai culture, politics, and education. It taught me about cross-cultural communication and patience. By working with the facilitators I was able to absorb a huge amount of information about FGM, leadership, self-defense and rape prevention."

“I Love My Body, I Say No to FGM!”

10 May

This is one of the slogans repeated by participants of the KCE Health and Leadership camp, a six-day seminar focused on girls’ empowerment, encouraging them to pursue their educational goals and to say no to the harmful traditional practices in their community. The Camp is hosted by the Kakenya’s Dream Organization and held at the Kakenya Center for Excellence school. Through a series of workshops and group activities, the camp aims to boost the girls’ self-esteem by teaching them to take ownership of their bodies and protect themselves from violence.

Last year we invited  sixty girls to take part in two camp session, one in April and another in December. This year, our goal was to double the number of participants in each session. As the Camp Coordinator, I invited twenty-six different schools within the Keyian Division to select two girls from grades 6 and 7 to attend. We ended up with 105 girls at our April camp from over 24 schools!

This year we doubled the amount of attendees, reaching out to as many girls as possible

Often Maasai girls are socialized to acknowledge the needs of others over their own, leading to an absence of self-prioritization. Being outspoken, particularly on issues of sexual violence or harassment, is not typically a part of a girl’s upbringing.  Because of this, there is a critical need for these types of workshops in the region. In addition, it is through the workshops that many of the girls are taught about sexual and reproductive health for the first time, as it is traditionally a taboo subject the home.

One volunteer from each Menstruation and Hygiene workshop was asked to perform a sanitary napkin demonstration

 In a discussion with Mama Kakenya and her daughter, Naserian, I was told that when a girl in Keyian District experiences sexual abuse, the tradition is to bathe her in healing herbs while the perpetrator is punished through a communal beating and the confiscation of his largest cow. When I asked if the man is ostracized from the community after his public humiliation, I was told that the victim is the one who is humiliated. The humiliation experienced by the victim prevents exposure of the abuses. After the incident of sexual abuse, she is considered impure as an adult. Although there is a local court and police station (the closest is an hour away), these matters aren’t typically resolved through the legal structure.

Beatrice Wanyonyi, a teacher at a neighboring primary school, facilitates the Communication and Life-Skills workshop

Throughout the camp the girls are taught how to love and protect their bodies from FGM, sexual violence, and the contraction of HIV and STDs. The camp is a unique opportunity for girls to learn about puberty, hygiene, substance abuse, self-awareness and women’s health. Most of the health topics covered in the workshops are still taboo for a majority of the communities in the Keyian Division. The issue of self-protection is clearly very important, given the lack of a legal structure that actively prosecutes perpetrators of violence and pegs the responsibility on the victims. The KCE’s Health and Leadership Camp is responding to these needs and is one of the first of its kind.  Its unique approach pairs its message of self-protection with girls’ empowerment through education and leadership. View a slideshow of the questions anonymously asked by camp participants at the end of the six day workshops.

This is one of many questions anonymously asked and answered on the last day of camp





































Posted By Megan Orr

Posted May 10th, 2012


  • Jessica Orr

    May 12, 2012


    This post exposes the incredibly crucial role of sexual education to adolescents, and the difficulties in providing the ‘right answer’ to those with very different understandings of reproductive health.
    Thank you once again for sharing with us!

  • Kristen Jespersen

    May 30, 2012


    What a powerful post, Megan. Oddly, many of these core issues about female self-ownership are still very acute throughout the world. Even here in the U.S. We should all take this class. Thanks.

  • Kristen Jespersen

    May 30, 2012


    What a powerful post, Megan. Unfortunately, I think women in societies across the globe struggle with many of the same core issues about self-ownership. We should all take this class. Thanks.

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