The Call to Action
Tragically, gender discrimination and poverty make millions of young women the victims of violence every day. Education gives girls a chance to become economically self sufficient and equips them to fight oppression. KEEP supports the education efforts of the Kakenya Center for Excellence, an NGO helping educate at-risk girls in Kenya.
Since December 2014, KEEP has been raising funds for a grant to the Kakenya Center for Excellence (KCE), a boarding school for girls in rural Kenya. These girls, who typically are forced to marry when entering puberty, instead pursue their education at KCE. Enrollment at KCE also protects all students from female genital cutting. Learning how KCE educates, protects and empowers these most vulnerable girls, we feel inspired and motivated to help. We have set a goal of sponsoring the 37 girls in the KCE class of 2018.
In their book Half the Sky, writers Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn profiled remarkable women living in perilous situations in developing countries. These women found ways to overcome oppression. But they didn’t just help themselves and their families. They kept going until they could find a way to help others.
When our book club read their stories, we had one thought: If these women could do so much despite overwhelming challenges, how could we not respond by supporting them?
Compelled by the authors’ premise that educating girls and women could elevate the lives of entire villages, we chose the overall mission of keeping girls in school.
Our Work in India
From 2011 to 2014, KEEP partnered with Apne Aap (”self help” in Hindi), a non-profit dedicated to ending sex trafficking in India. Working with rural girls at risk of being sold into brothels, and in the red-light districts with victims and their children, Apne Aap enables “women and girls to form small self-empowerment groups that help them rescue themselves and transform their communities”.
KEEP committed to raise $10,800 per year to fund “Kishori Mandals” (girls’ groups) where girls went for tutoring, English language instruction, non-formal education (including sewing, karate, nutrition workshops, self-advocacy and life skills classes) and medical care.
KEEP also began an email penpal program between local girls and those in India. The letters not only allowed the girls in India to practice their English and gain a broader global perspective, but we made sure they knew we cared about them and their future.
In partnership with Apne Aap, KEEP has supported 130-160 girls annually in three different community centers in rural India. Girls whose mothers were forced into prostitution or child marriage are passing entrance exams and attending college. Real change has occurred thanks to the donations of KEEP’s supporters.
Our Founding Members
The seven founding members of KEEP came from our book club.
They are: (back row): Elizabeth McGoldrick, Elena Rover, Cynthia Braun, Celeste Crosby
(front row):Jeanne Cass, Ruthie Rosenberg, Sioban Keane
Today, five of KEEP’s founders act as the informal board of directors for KEEP.