Cake, balloons and happy faces– this may look like a typical graduation for these hardworking 8th graders, but they are surpassing far more than just another grade. These students represent the first graduating class at the Entikeng Lepa school in Kenya located deep in the pastoral lands of the Maasai Mara. They are forging paths into a future their mothers, aunts, grandmothers and those before them never dreamed possible.
Thanks to the school’s courageous founder Hellen Nkuraiya, the girls at the Entikeng Lepa school have escaped, some as young as age six, a childhood that includes early marriage and female genital mutilation. FGM is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia and is recognized internationally as a major violation of the human rights of girls and women–it is nearly always carried out on minors. For almost her entire lifetime, Hellen has been fighting both early marriage and FMG, practices that she believes reflect deep-rooted gender inequality.
Excitement is felt around the world!
The excitement surrounding this recent celebration spreads all over the world–across the myriad of partnerships that grew from Hellen’s dream of a school. GOPhilanthropic, and other organizations like it such as Jamii Moja, have facilitated the sponsorships needed for the girls to invest in their curious minds, passions and burgeoning intellects. Committed donors have gone way beyond writing a check–they have rallied for them over the years, during their good terms and the not-so-good. Many have traveled to Kenya to visit their sponsored girls, exchanged letters with them, and believed in their hopes for a future that tap their true potential. Passionate individuals like Amy Gibson have climbed mountains to raise funds for school fees and educational tools. Yet the list of committed global citizens and organizations who invest in these girls doesn’t end there. Partner programs like EFAC stand ready to grab the baton in offering continued schooling for those who are excelling. Net sum– it can take a global village to raise a child in today’s world.
While the next chapter still remains unclear for the 1st graduating students of Entikeng Lepa, one thing is certain. They have proven to themselves, to their families and their communities that the past tradition need not define their future and that educating themselves does not require abandoning their culture.
Hats off to all who made this possible. We look forward to celebrating many more graduating classes!!