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Fighting FGM and child marriage in Kenya
with girls education and income generation

Project Overview

Location
Maji Moto Enkiteng Lepa School
Tepesua Primary School
Tepesua Widows’ Village

Project Start Date
Summer 2024

Projects
Construct a science lab so junior secondary girls can progress to secondary school and continue their education.

Create income-generating initiatives for women who have survived child marriage.

Keep rescued girls and boys who are from underserved, rural communities in school.

Expand a mentorship program to help girls stay on track for academic success.

Country Context
FGM, while legally banned, is still widely practiced in traditional tribal communities and is typically coupled with child marriage. Girls who are married off remain uneducated and have no chance for survival if they are left on their own as widows, with little means to support themselves and their children.

Partner Projects

Combating FGM and child marriage in Maasai communities

WECO has partnered with the Tepesua CBO to holistically address female genital mutilation (FGM) through education and income-generation for Maasai girls and women living in poverty. Founded by Hellen Nkuriaya in 2015, the Tepesua CBO supports three main programs: the Maji Moto Enkiteng Lepa school for rescued Maasai girls and boys, the Tepesua primary school for underserved children, and a social enterprise for widows who are survivors of child marriage.

The Maji Moto Enkiteng Lepa school provides Maasai girls with a safe space to get an education and protect them from early marriage and FGM. One of the highest performing schools in the country, the Maji Moto Enkiteng Lepa school prepares students for long-term academic success. In addition to providing students with basic necessities such as school fees and room and board, Hellen and her team are developing a mentorship program to support girls students in particular to ensure they stay on track through secondary school and beyond.

The Tepesua CBO likewise supports the Tepesua primary school for vulnerable children, which feeds into Enkiteng Lepa.

Maintaining cultural traditions while empowering girls

Although it has been banned for over a decade, FGM is still widely practiced in rural and tribal communities, and child marriage through trading young girls in exchange for livestock is a regular practice. Since wives are often much younger than their husbands, they are often left widowed, and women do not have a right to own (or inherit) any property. As a result, teenage widows with children are left with no home or means to survive. They are typically uneducated and unable to find work, leading to further poverty for themselves and their families.

The Tepesua CBO is creating opportunities for women who were widowed at a young age, so they can earn a livable income through various kinds of vocational work. This income enables the women to feed themselves and their children as well as invest in their children’s futures.

The Tepesua camp also delicately balances maintaining and celebrating the Maasai culture while simultaneously advocating to counteract cultural practices that are harmful to women and girls. Speaking out against gender violence and discrimination is extremely difficult in traditional communities such as the Maasai, but Hellen and her team continue to make incredible strides in the fight for gender equity.

Learn more about these programs here.

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Educating at-risk girls and expanding women’s vocational opportunities

WECO partnered with the Tepesua CBO in March 2024 and visited the team in June to learn more about the needs of each school and the widow’s village. During our visit, we brought classroom supplies for the schools and held an arts and crafts class with the Tepesua primary school.

In addition, we supplied two overlock sewing machines, one for the widows’ village sanitary napkin project and one for the Maji Moto Enkiteng Lepa school, along with period underwear donated by our partners at Saalt. We also provided funds for the widow’s village to buy a female goat, which will provide the women and their children with fresh milk and a means to gain additional income.

Read more about our site visit here.

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WECO’s 2025 Summer Project

WECO is raising $40,000 for our 2024-2025 partner projects with the Tepesua CBO. The 3 main projects will include:

  1. Building a science lab for the Enkiteng Lepa School to satisfy new curriculum requirements so junior secondary students can seamlessly progress onward to secondary school.
  2. Expanding the community garden for the widows’ village and creating one for the Enkiteng Lepa School, as a means to both feed the community as well as generate additional income from surplus sales.
  3. Constructing a home classroom for the Tepesua primary school to satisfy new curriculum requirements from the Kenyan government.

In addition to these infrastructure projects, we will be raising additional funds for general sponsorships to help unsponsored girls remain in school, and so Hellen and the school can rescue more girls. It costs $800 to sponsor one primary school student for a year, and $900 for one junior secondary student.

For more information, please review our volunteer resource page or reach out to us through our contact form

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