On Thursday, April 11 the Willow Creek community welcomed Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya, recently named one of Anderson’s Cooper CNN Heros, and Seeds to Sew International, a New Jersey nonprofit founded by former Cherry Creek School District educator Janice Ito, her sister, and her daughter, Ellyn Ito.
Dr. Ntaiya spoke about her life as a girl in a tribal Maasai village in a remote area of Kenya without running water or electricity. Willow Creek students learned that after she was engaged at the age of 5, Dr. Ntaiya persuaded her father to put off the marriage until she could finish primary and high school and then convinced village elders to pay for her trip to college in the United States. She became the first girl from her village to obtain a college degree and later became the only woman in her community to receive a doctorate.
After Dr. Ntaiya earned her degree from Randolph Macon in Virginia, she returned to her village to establish a school for girls. Cultural norms usually prevent girls from attending school, and the poverty of the area often makes school uniforms, books and fees prohibitive for families. Seeds to Sew makes the dream of education possible by raising awareness and money to meet the students' needs through sales of hand-made beaded jewelry and gift bags, crafted in the traditional Maasai style by some of the students’ mothers.
Willow Creek held a bead drive earlier this year to raise money and collect beads which were sent to the Seeds to Sew program and distributed to the Kenyan women beaders. The bead drive, organized by Ms. Heaton and Ms. Link and their fourth grade classes, kicked off an exciting relationship between the Willow Creek students and their Kenyan counterparts. The students have been writing and receiving letters to one another, and recently our fourth graders designed and wove friendship bracelets to send to their Kenyan penpals.
Ms. Heaton and Ms. Link and their students will be organizing sales of Enkisoma Beaded Bracelets, in early May. These bracelets have been made specifically for Willow Creek Elementary School by using colors that our students might find interesting. Examples of this are, red, white and blue (colors of our nation’s flag and WC colors), gold and black (CU colors), light blue and gold (Nugget’s colors), blue and orange (Bronco’s colors), indigo and black (Rockie’s colors), green and gold (CSU colors). Cost of the bracelets will be $4.00 each or 3 for $10. ALL THE PROCEEDS will be returned to the Kenyan girls’ fundraising efforts.
Written by parent Laura Dravenstott and teacher Lisa Heaton
Posted April 17, 2013.