The small town of Enoosaen in West Kenya has one main dirt road which you either travel by foot or by motorbike on, one market, lots of donkeys, cattle and chickens, and a beautiful community of Masai people whose lives seem to be straddling their traditional rural past and the modernizing developments of the future. Men and women will cross your path wearing traditional Masai garb, with ears stretched out and the occasional red dyed hair. It is a startling difference to the gritty urban expansion world of Nairobi.
While living in this farming area tucked on the south western edge of the Rift Valley, I had the incredible opportunity to work for the Kakenya Center for Excellence; a newly developed boarding school for Masai girls. The idea of a well functioning school that targets only girls, boards them, and has a set curriculum that might mirror many exclusive private schools in the states is a rare accomplishment. In Enoosaen, traditional Masai roles are still for the most part maintained. Most young girls are put through the ritual of female circumcision (FGC/FGM) around 14 years and are married soon thereafter. They rarely receive an education past grade 8 if any at all. Many young girls are married against their will and some (whom I had the privileged to meet and live with) have managed to escape (sometimes running for days) and find refuge with an understanding neighbor or teacher.
The Kakenya Center for Excellence (The Academy for Girls) was initiated by a vivacious, warm, and incredible Masai woman named Kakenya. She left Enoosaen to go to college in the United States with the promise that she would use her education to better her home community. To learn more about her please visit her website, http://www.kakenyasdream.org/
The Academy for Girls is only two years old at this point but it is growing in many ways each day. There are currently about 64 girls attending the school and receiving a rare type of education in Kenya; one that focuses on individual and active learning. Parents are not responsible to pay any fees and only to bring food for the girls’ meals. In order for a girl to be accepted into the school and to stay at the school the parents must agree not to circumcise her.
While working at this school I got to meet and play with over 60 amazing young Masai girls who with this advance type of education will perhaps follow in Kakenya’s footsteps and continue their education to the university level (albeit in Kenya or abroad). Their smiles and attitude towards learning are strong and healthy. They clearly represent a golden light in the future of Masai women.
Posted By Brooke Blanchard
Posted Aug 23rd, 2010