Kakenya's Dream

Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya meeting with the community elders

Lee-Ann Olwage

Kakenya’s Dream invests in girls from rural Kenya through educational, health, and leadership initiatives to create agents of change.

The indigenous Maasai are one of Kenya’s most marginalized communities. The majority of Maasai girls undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) and are married before the age of 19.

Founded in 2008 by Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya, Kakenya’s Dream began as a single school serving 30 vulnerable Maasai girls. Today, Kakenya’s Dream is a robust nonprofit organization supporting girls holistically with a foundation of quality education in addition to community-based health and leadership programs designed to empower girls to become agents of change, end harmful traditional practices including FGM and child marriage, and transform communities in rural Kenya.

Dr. Ntaiya grew up in the Maasai community. After surviving FGM, escaping child marriage, and negotiating with her father and village elders to stay in school, she became the first woman from her village to attend university in the United States. She went on to receive a PhD in education and returned home, determined to provide a pathway to education and empowerment for every girl in her community and beyond.

Our partnership with Kakenya’s Dream is made possible by generous Population Connection donors who give to our Global Partners program. Dr. Ntaiya recently shared this video to thank all of YOU for your support of Kakenya’s Dream this year:

“Once marriage has been arranged (for me, that was at just five years old) and we have undergone FGM, our schooling ends because we’re expected to start families and become homemakers. Education for girls was only seen as a tool to socialize us for marriage. Without a formal education, professional development opportunities, and the resources and support to pursue these things, this path often locks girls and women into lifelong poverty. I knew that a different, more empowered life, free from forced marriage, FGM, and poverty was possible for girls and women in my community, and it became my dream to make it a reality. And so, Kakenya’s Dream was born.”

– Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya

Photo: Kakenya’s Dream pioneer class of college graduates. © Kakenya’s Dream

The Kakenya Centers for Excellence, two full-support girls’ boarding schools, provide high-quality education to the most vulnerable girls in rural Kenya. When students graduate from these, they enter the Network for Excellence program, which supports them as they make the critical transition to secondary school (high school) and tertiary education (college/university).

Kakenya’s Dream also provides its students, as well as boys and girls in partner schools across rural Kenya, with comprehensive sex education, information about the dangers of FGM and child marriage, knowledge of their legal rights, and life skills training.

Photo: Students enjoying a break from classes. © Kakenya’s Dream

The organization’s impact

In the region Kakenya’s Dream serves, only 58% of women complete primary school and only 23% finish high school. In contrast, 100% of Kakenya’s Dream primary students transition to secondary school, 94% graduate from high school, and 87% of high schoolers go on to tertiary education. In 2022, the organization celebrated the college graduations of its first-ever cohort of students, who joined its programs back in 2009.

In addition,100% of Kakenya’s Dream students self-report being free from FGM and child marriage, compared to the surrounding female population, of which approximately half has undergone FGM and one-in-two women were married by the age of 19.

Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya was featured in Bill Gates’ Heroes in the Field series in 2022! Watch the video here:

Learn more about Kakenya's Dream in this Q&A!

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Transforming communities through girls' empowerment: Q&A with Kakenya's Dream

Through our Global Partners program, Population Connection supports a growing number of grassroots organizations around the world working to increase access to education, public health and family planning services. Their…

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