Covid update

November 10, 2020

Many of you have asked how the pandemic has been affecting the girls we support at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Thank you for your concern!

After meeting recently with Kakenya by videoconference, we have terrific news:

Each and every one of the KEEP-supported girls returned safely to the KCE campus in mid-October. Because of the amazing work of Kakenya and her team, ALL of the 42 eighth graders have been protected from FGM, child marriage, and pregnancy.

When the Kenyan government closed schools in mid-March, KCE students returned to their villages. In this part of rural Kenya, the teen pregnancy rate is 40% and gender-based violence is prevalent. Aware of these dangers, Kakenya’s staff made regular visits to each village. They checked in on every student and delivered essentials such as learning materials, food, and soap, as well as the solar lights and radios that you, our generous KEEP donors, provided for them last spring.

An eighth grader with her supplies (see solar light and radio at left)

In October, the Kenyan government announced that all fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders would return to school, prioritizing these grades because of required national exams. Thrilled to be back at school, the KEEP-supported eighth grade girls are following strict COVID protocols as they resume their studies. COVID testing is not available in this part of Kenya, but students and staff remain on the self-contained campus. We are hopeful they will stay safe.

KCE students back on campus

Although the pandemic has increased operating expenses, KCE has been able to keep all staff on full salary as teachers, administrators, and program staff continue to care for students whether on campus or at home. Of all the important work Kakenya shared with us, we’d like to highlight two exciting new initiatives. This fall, Kakenya’s Dream launched the Linda Dada (“Protect a Sister” in Swahili) Campaign, which aims to combat rising rates of teen pregnancy by developing local leaders’ commitment to girls’ health through discussions, focus groups, and radio broadcasts.

Local chiefs discuss girls’ health

Plans are also underway to build the community’s first youth-friendly health clinic next year! The clinic will deliver comprehensive healthcare, including contraception, to KCE students and local youth. We are pleased to report that friends of KEEP with expertise in this area are advising Kakenya on this project.

As a KEEP donor, you are in good company. Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates recently applauded Kakenya’s work on CNN. Obama and Gates emphasized that we must prioritize adolescent girls’ wellbeing during the pandemic: “When girls are given the chance to learn and thrive, poverty drops, economies grow, families get stronger and babies are born healthier. The world, by every measure, gets better.”

Please consider supporting all this good work with a donation. As always, your donation to KEEP is fully tax-deductible, and every penny supports the eighth grade class at the Kakenya Center for Excellence.

Wishing health and happiness to you and yours!