Kenya Dig It? is a project of Women’s Empowerment Breakthrough. Two years ago, WEB formed a partnership with the Nabolu Girl’s Centre in Narok, Kenya. The Nabolu Girl’s Centre is the only women’s center run by and for the Maasai, an ethnic group in Kenya that is often marginalized.
WEB’s work in Kenya
Over the past two years, WEB has sent three Prescott teens to Kenya to work with Nabolu and the Siena boarding school in Narok, Kenya. The first year, WEB participants collected stories from the students and turned them in to a beautifully illustrated book. The second year, WEB participants made a brochure for the Nabolu Girl’s Centre. Summit Architecture, an all-female architecture firm based out of Kansas City, Missouri, got their hands on the brochure and agreed to help us build a new structure for the centre, which is currently run out of the Full Gospel House and is in desperate need of expansion. Next year, we hope to send seven Prescott teens to Kenya to help build the structure.
Women’s Empowerment Breakthrough believes that our girls have as much to learn from the Maasai as the Maasai do from us. Prescott teens and Maasai women participate in collaborative and cross-cultural educational projects that are mutually beneficial to both groups. The program works with youth to bridge generations, cultures, and global communities while addressing social justice issues that affect women and girls. Not only will these teens get the experience of being immersed in a culture other than their own, but they will also have the opportunity to work with teen girls of the same age that live in completely different circumstances. This is a chance to engage in meaningful work, experience a different paradigm of happiness, community, and self-worth, and to connect and learn from women who have many new perspectives to share.
Information About Nabolu Girl’s Centre
The Nabolu Girl’s Centre believes that with support, Maasai girls can maintain their cultural pride and obligation while pursuing an empowering education. The Nabolu Girl’s Centre brings this belief to fruition by providing girls with a safe place to seek educational resources, shelter, scholarships, support, and family reconciliation. Nabolu is a Maasai word that means “to open the future;” through innovative Maasai run programming The Nabolu Girl’s Centre not only opens the future for Maasai girls, but it also opens the future for their communities. Our Mission is to provide access to educational resources, to help maintain the cultural pride of Maasai girls while supporting them in their educational pursuits through reconciliation programming, to teach girls integral life skills, to raise awareness within the community about issues affecting Maasai girls, and to provide a home away from home.
In my home I am the first girl to go to school…after finishing school I would like to return to my community and help girls like me get an education
-Rose Kimorgo, class 7, age 13
Education is a paramount priority in Maasai communities despite the fact that Maasai people face enormous obstacles in their pursuit for educational empowerment, such as a severe lack of resources and the general condemnation of Maasai culture and traditions by Kenyan and broader societies.
Maasai girls are particularly challenged in their pursuit of education. First and foremost, in traditional Maasai culture girls are customarily married as young adolescents. Should a girl and/or her family choose for her to marry in a traditional fashion, her education is at least interrupted, and more likely terminated. The second reason results from Britain’s colonization of Kenya. The process not only marginalized the indigenous groups that refused to assimilate into western culture, but also created a national legacy of prioritizing education for boys over girls. Today, Kenya’s educational system still reflects this disparity.
The Nabolu Girl’s Centre, located in Narok, Kenya, is currently an educational center and residence for more than 45 adolescent Maasai girls who have made the difficult decision to leave home in order to go to school. The center was created out of a direct response to a community need.
Over the course of a few months in 2002, 4 teenage Maasai girls walked as far as 100 km to arrive at the Full Gospel Church looking for shelter and education. Local volunteers built a dormitory from donated materials, and created The Nabolu Girl’s Centre. More and more girls arrived as knowledge of the center spread. Nabolu works diligently to sustain their programs and provide school feed for its girls on small, local donations. Unfortunately, in times of economic hardship in Kenya, it becomes increasingly difficult for Nabolu go provide basic living needs and pay school fees.
Most of the young women residing at the center are the first Maasai women to attend school from their families and communities. Girls at Nabolu are determined to receive an education all the way through university in order to create positive change in their communities and have the resources and tools to advocate for educational empowerment of future generations of Maasai girls.
The Nabolu Girls’ Centre provides programs that contribute to the educational empowerment of Maasai girls while fostering cultural pride and connectedness to to the girls’ homes, families and Maasai culture. They provide reconciliation programs to strengthen the understanding of parents whose daughters have made alternative choices to early marriage. The majority of young women at Nabolu have risked their place as women in their communities by running away from home in regusal of circumcision and early marriage. Nabolu, managed by Maasai leaders, takes a culturally competent approach by providing mediations between girls and their families to discuss differences of opinion, come to a resolution, and rekindle their relationships. This program unites the community around a girl’s choice and strengthens communication around issues like early marriage, circumcision, and education.
Education is a tool for my life. When I learn and put the spirit of hard work into my education and go to university, I can then become the necessary change for my community.
-Jackilyn Ketere, grade 5, age 14
Revered Luka Dapash, the founder and director of The Nabolu Girl’s Center and a Maasai activist, doesn’t want much, just a chance for Maasai girls to get the education they so desperately desire. He has plans for the future to make this educational dream become more easily accessible for Maasai girls, with your support his plans for the Nabolu Girl’s Center are very possible. The dormitory the girls currently sleep in is over croweded with bunk beds and the number of girls at the center exceeds the available space. The center receives more girls than it has beds for and a new center with a bigger dormitory is an integral component in providing girls in Maasailand with educational support. The Nabolu Girls Centre has future aspirations of supporting all Maasai girls in receiving an education no matter what their individual circumstances. Nabolu will be a resource for girls who have support from their families but don’t have the money to afford school. Through its strategic location in Narok, Nabolu is close to many quality educational institutions and serves as a central location for many low-income and rural Maasai communities.
How to Get Involved
The Nabolu Girls Centre prides itself on sustaining the relationships the girls have with their culture and communities. Most other programs have strict requirements that girls must adhere to in order to receive a scholarship. Sometimes this includes converting to belief systems they do not identify with that condemn their culture. The lesson taught by many of these types of organizations is that in order to be successful one must sever ties with her community. Nabolu Girls Centre prides itself in teaching just the opposite.
On our website, www.nabolugirls.org, you will be able to learn more about the program, current projects, and see what progress has been made. You can also find out about any upcoming events and fundraisers.
A donation of money is greatly appreciated, it could be the difference of a girl being able to attend school.
Reverend Luka Dapash, Founder and Director
Jane Cabot, US Correspondent: Nabolugirls@prescott.edu
Nabolu Girls Website