Kakenya Ntaiya: The True Story of Enlightenment

 

Look at the woman on the left! Observe her…a smile so radiant, eyes so bright and gleaming…flanked by little girls whose eyes exhibit the same determination, enthusiasm and freedom!

Clearly, she is an achiever…but do we know her?

Do we know how she, Kakenya Ntaiya is slowly and silently making a difference…a difference that can significantly change the lives of the girls of her tribe!

Kakenya Ntaiya’s life was exactly like that of all the other girls of the small Masai Village of Enoosaen. Engaged when she was only five, her life revolved around rituals and traditions. Her fate was determined, she was to be circumcised by the time she was a teenager. Her education was

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at the verge of its end and soon the preparations of her marriage were about to begin.

High school was not even an option for her. It was an unnecessary and a poor investment.

But Kakenya had different plans. She made a bargain with her father. She agreed to undergo the female genital mutilation only if she was allowed to complete High School. Her father agreed.

As soon as she was healed from the genital mutilation wounds, she readily headed to Sosio Secondary School. She worked like crazy and her hard work paid off…she won a scholarship to Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia.

But how could she go? Men from her tribes had left before…to other African countries, America or United States. Some stayed there…some came back. But she was a girl…A girl, who was destined to be married, destined to live a life dictated by rules and traditions.

She now had to make an even bigger negotiation. She told the village elders that she wanted to leave her little village in South Kenya and go to college in the United States. She had to make

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them believe that she would use her education to help her village. She promised to come back with the things her community needed the most: a hospital, infrastructure, electricity, paved roads and many more. It was only after this promise that the entire village collected money for her journey: $3,000 for the plane ticket.

Kakenya left.

The girl, who never had had the privilege of experiencing one ray of electricity, went on to

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write papers on international relations and political science and that too using the computers in her university library. She went on to attend the University of Pittsburg to complete her doctorate.

The entire time she was in the United States, she engaged herself in promoting awareness about the issues that affect the girls in her community. She was the youth advisor to the United States Population Fund.

She travelled across the world, to fight…to voice her words against the practices of female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Kakenya visualized millions of girls of her community, crying in vain…full of sorrows and hardships, but their voices were not being heard. They neither had hope… nor any right!

Nevertheless, Kakenya says, “But I see a brighter future for them. I see smiling faces, full of energy and passion, ready to change the world for better. I see them empowered and with proper education. I see them as senior executives in big companies, owning their businesses, heading government ministries, and championing rights of humanity.”

And for this mindset of hers, the courage with which she opened the Kakenya Center for Excellence in 2009, the first primary school in Enoosaen….she gives all the credit to the education she received.

Watch this video, where Kakenya talks about how education gave her freedom and changed her life and living.

Kakenya is now a passionate activist for girls’ education. The experience she had with education and the kind of opportunities she had after it…she wants the same for the girls of her community and the girls around the world.

She kept her promise…the Kakenya Center for Excellence which she opened in 2009 had 32 students in the first year…it doubled in the next year and it is continuously growing. The girls in the school study English, Math, Swahili, Science, Religion, Geography and History, the Arts and Physical education. The curriculum also focuses on leadership! Right now, it is also developing a curriculum that will empower the girls to withstand community pressures and stand up for their own principles.

The girls at Kakenya Center for Excellence also maintain their ties with their families and their communities. They learn different skills with which they can contribute to the improvement of their village. They learn agriculture, animal husbandry, etc.

Kakenya now has already earned more than US$75,000 for the school and her success is inspiring millions of people from across the globe.

Though statistics provided by the National Geographic state that even today only 11% of girls in her district pursue education beyond the primary level…Kakenya dreams that the young girls of Africa will travel the same path to education…to self-realization…the way she did.

Kakenya Ntaiya wants us to join her cause…to help her in realizing the dreams she has for the girls of Kenya.

And if we do really want to be part of the change she is making…let us visit Kakenya’s Dream and help one little child of Enoosaen in fulfilling her dreams.

Photo Credit:Flickr

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