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Girl Effect Blog of October 4

For the Girl Effect blogging campaign now under way, I would like to offer a visual definition of empowerment. I teach religious education/international social justice to 7th graders at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday mornings, and for my introduction to international concerns last Sunday, I explained the difference between helping people with aid dollars (bags of food labeled “U.S.” in Somalia) and empowerment dollars. I showed these two pictures to launch my explanation of empowerment. The kids described traits of the girl on the left, recognized the photo on the right showed the same girl, and noted the differences. They got it right away – the girl on the right was empowered.

The photos show Angeline, a student at the Kakenya Center fo Excellence primary girls’ boarding school in Maasai Kenya (, and on GlobalGiving at On the school’s first application day (photo, left), Angeline showed up alone, desperate for a good education. Although she was older than her peers, she was accepted in part by her sheer force of determination. The photo on the right was taken three months after the school opened (6 months after application day) shortly after Angeline received her new uniform. For Angeline, along with many other girls, this was the first piece of new clothing she had ever received, and it is justifiably a source of great pride.

Now, more than 2 years later, Angeline is first in her 6th grade class, having scored Number 1 in exams last spring out of students from 29 schools in the district.

The Kakenya Center for Excellence strives to empower every girl and combat female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/FGC) and child marriage. The school also offers a holiday camp for girls in surrounding communities by pairing them with a Kakenya Center student who serves as mentor as they learn side by side about health education and leadership training skills. As of mid-October, you will have a chance to contribute funds to this holiday camp as part of the Girl Effect campaign on Global Giving.

Go, Girl Effect! For more on this week’s blogging campaign, visit

one girls's journey to empowerment through the Kakenya Center for Excellence

Angeline before and after her empowerment


  • Village to Village: One Woman’s Journey from Cedar Lane, Bethesda; to Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo Friday evening, October 18, 7 PM       Cedar Lane UU Church, Bethesda A harambee* fundraiser for Cedar Lane Congo Kids Please join us for a night of African storytelling, music, and crafts in celebration of Cedar Lane’s relief efforts in DR Congo. Annette Scarpitta will share her multimedia story from 7th-grade religious educator and social justice innovator to her field visit in DR Congo Featuring: Ghanaian traditional linguist/storyteller Sonia Amo-Akonnor Traditional djembe drumming by Chris Mauro African jewelry and crafts from DR Congo, Kenya, and Uganda Traditional African food Free admission. Donations for Congo Kids education program welcome. Cash and checks accepted. Sorry, no credit cards. Can't make it? Contribute to the project via Older children are welcome; no child care will be provided for younger kids. *Swahili for coming together in unity        


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