ISAMPIN, Kenya – Kakenya’s Dream is thrilled to announce $725,000 in new funding from Twitter and Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey through his #StartSmall initiative. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the funds will provide much-needed immediate pandemic relief and fulfill the organization’s longtime dream of establishing our community’s first and only youth-friendly health clinic.
Pandemics like COVID-19 expose and exacerbate existing inequalities and disproportionately impact vulnerable groups worldwide. Kakenya’s Dream’s programs serve girls in rural Kenya who are among the most marginalized in Africa. With schools closed throughout Kenya due to the pandemic, these girls now face greater risks and new challenges.
During this crisis, our students have been forced to leave the safety of our residential programs and return home, where in addition to missing critical educational milestones and opportunities, many will also face physical and sexual abuse. Despite Kenyan laws that prohibit female genital mutilation (FGM), nearly 80% of girls in our region undergo this harmful traditional practice at adolescence and 50% are married before age 19. The rate of teen pregnancy in our county is the highest in Kenya, currently standing at 40%. In many cases, these pregnancies are the result of sexual violence. Our students – who have already overcome significant barriers to go to school – are now facing even greater challenges to avoid the obstacles that so often cut short their education.
Currently, in and around the community of Enoosaen where our schools are located, there is no place for young people to seek resources or services for basic medical needs. Sexual and reproductive health and safety needs in particular often go unaddressed. The COVID-19 crisis further underscores the dire needs of this population, which represents the future of these communities.
“We are so grateful to Jack Dorsey for his extraordinary support in this time of crisis, and for his understanding of the powerful connection between a girl’s health and her ability to pursue her education,” said Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya, Founder and President of Kakenya’s Dream. “Our vision for our community programs has long included the creation of a youth-friendly health clinic to serve our girls, a resource our village has never had before. It is my hope that through the clinic, our community, and especially our girls, will feel empowered and in control of their health. We are very excited about the opportunities this partnership will bring.”
About Kakenya’s Dream: Kakenya’s Dream is a community based nonprofit organization leveraging education to change the life trajectory of girls in Kenya. Our mission is to invest in girls from rural communities through transformational education, health, and leadership initiatives to become agents of change. Since 2009, Kakenya’s Dream has worked in one of the most remote regions of Kenya to address the factors that prevent girls from completing their education beyond a primary level, including poor quality of education, negative social attitudes towards girls’ education, early marriage and FGM.
About #StartSmall: #StartSmall is Jack Dorsey’s philanthropic initiative to fund global COVID-19 relief, girls health and education, and efforts towards Universal Basic Income. Dorsey transferred $1 billion (28% of his wealth) to #StartSmall in 2020.
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