Thanks to your support, we have reached 1,700 Maasai girls, boys, women and men through our Community Education Programs in 2013 alone! Here are just a few of the highlights from an incredible year in Kenya:
Empowering a generation of Maasai womenIn August, 30 Maasai women completed an intensive 3-day business training, resulting in the launch of 10 new businesses. For 6 months, these women-led businesses will receive monitoring and support sessions from a skilled training facilitor. They will follow in the footsteps of our first business training cohort, a group of 30 women who successfully completed their 4th and final support session in early October. MGEF is so proud of these amazing and inspiring entrepreneurs!
Our team of Life Skills Workshop facilitators has grown!We are excited to announce that Caroline Kashinin, a recent nursing school graduate, and fellow alumna, Simantoi Kilama, are two of our newest Life Skills Workshop facilitators (see photos). Like Caroline, Simantoi brings to the table a wealth of experience as an HIV counselor at Jomo Kenyatta University. Both MGEF alumnae share a deep passion for educating and empowering girls by giving them the knowledge and tools they need to prevent teen pregnancy, early marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM). Click here to learn more about MGEF's Life Skills Workshop curriculum.
Next upBetween now and the end of December, MGEF will hold a total of 10 more Community Education Programs (2 Life Skills Workshops and 8 Elders and Mothers Workshops) and reach an estimated 1,000 additional Maasai people. Without your help, our work would not be possible, and we thank you again for believing in the MGEF mission. We look forward to bringing you updates in the New Year, and wish you a very happy holiday season!
Thanks to your support, 2013 has already been a momentous year for MGEF. While continuing to offer our award-winning Community Education Program, we've expanded our Women's Business Training so that even more Maasai women have the opportunity to earn an income. Check out all the details below:
Community Education Program
Between January-June 2013, MGEF organized three Elders & Mothers Workshops, as well as four Life Skills Workshops for girls and boys in the Kajiado County. Of the 594 total participants, a majority indicated that they would relinquish harmful customs, like early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), thereby enabling girls to stay in school.
Women’s Business Training
In March 2013, we held a Women’s Business Training for thirty Maasai women, resulting in ten new women-owned businesses in Kajiado, Kenya. An additional three trainings are slated for later this year, all coordinated by MGEF in partnership with Equity Bank. By the end of 2013, one-hundred and twenty women will be trained, leading to life-changing financial independence and greater opportunities for their daughters.
Thank you once again for your commitment to the Maasai community. Their success is made possible by your generosity and support. We look forward to sharing updates with you in the near future!
PS as an MGEF supporter, you are in good company:
This has been a groundbreaking year for MGEF. In February, we launched the Mothers Workshop, an expansion of our highly successful Community Education Program, which has now reached over 6,000 girls, boys, women, and men. In 2012, we also awarded scholarships to eleven new students and saw the MGEF Alumni Group take shape. From our many incredible stories, we have compiled our favorite moments from the past year. We invite you to read, watch, and discover what makes MGEF's work so special.
Engaging the Community
In 2012, nearly 400 women attended the inaugural Mothers Workshops, a program that addresses cultural barriers contributing to low enrollment and high drop-out rates among Maasai girls. We encourage participants to support their daughters by rejecting both child marriage and female genital mutilation, and by teaching girls how to protect themselves from pregnancy and HIV. Overwhelmingly, the attendees have accepted this challenge and committed themselves to uplifting the younger generation. Like all MGEF activities, the Mothers Workshops are led by a Maasai facilitator. We believe that positive change comes from within a community, and for this reason, MGEF partners with a well- respected, community-based organization led by Maasai women in Kajiado, Kenya.
On July 26, 2012, our partner organization, Maasai Girls Education Fund - Kajiado (MGEF Kajiado), received the East Africa Association of Grantmakers (EAAG) Award for Community Philanthropy. Lucy Ntayia, Managing Director of MGEF Kajiado, and Kajiado board chair, Sophie Meeli, accepted the award in Entebbe, Uganda (see photo below). During the awards gala, EAAG played excerpts from our videos, which outline the programs we deliver to the Maasai community in Kajiado County, Kenya. If you haven't yet, we invite you to watch our newest video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jAZWAc8YpQ. We are thankful to EAAG for recognizing our hard work, and we congratulate the other deserving awardees. Our appreciation also goes to you, our supporters, who enable us every single day to carry out our programs. This award belongs to all of you.
Ending Child Marriage
MGEF has helped 115 girls go to school and achieve brighter futures. Like many of our students, we rescued Reson Mpatinae from early marriage, enrolled her in school, and are making sure that she has the support a girl needs in order to succeed. Now at 10 years of age and less than a year after her rescue, Reson is thriving in her new environment (see video below, Reson is on the left: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpmI0ry7OZ4). We look forward to watching Reson's dreams broaden and grow.
The scholarship Reson received from MGEF is part of a special promise we give to each and every sponsored student: our support and guidance through secondary school and post-secondary school. All of our college graduates are now skilled professionals in their fields, locally employed, and contributing to their families and communities. They are living proof of a universal truth: Educating women is the single, most effective way to improve their lives and the well-being of their communities.
This year has been particularly inspiring as we've watched our students learn, excel, and become role models themselves. In late 2011, MGEF alumni channeled their passion for education and formed the Alumni Group, a coalition of MGEF alumni and college students. Their mission: to empower other Maasai women and girls. While only a year old, the group has made a huge contribution to their community by mentoring rural primary school girls and providing them with sanitary pads. As in many parts of the world, impoverished girls miss twenty-five percent of school every year because they have no access to sanitary pads. Now, thanks to the MGEF Alumni Group, girls at four primary schools - Enchoro Esenteu, Paranae, Emurkea, and Iseuri - are able to attend without missing a single day.
On behalf of the Maasai community and the Maasai Girls Education Fund, I would like to thank Aid for Africa, Bethesda Emergency Associates, Dining for Women, Foundation Kids to School - Caren Van Egton Fund, Journey Charitable Foundation, Reverse the Course Foundation, Stiftung Kinder-Hilfe, Tides Foundation, and the many individuals whose generous support and commitment to Maasai girls' education have contributed to our success and the success of our students.
With gratitude and best wishes for the holiday season,
Barbara Lee Shaw, President
Last month, MGEF staff traveled to Kenya and had the opportunity to attend Elders and Mothers Workshops. While in separate sessions, the men and women learned about the challenges their daughters face when pursuing an education, as well as the strategies they can use to help overcome these challenges.
The past few months have been busy here at MGEF, and we're thrilled to share some updates!
This month, MGEF became an official member of Girls Not Brides, a global coalition of organizations working to end child marriage around the world. We're honored to join this incredible partnership, powered by a group of international leaders known as the Elders, who include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, and Jimmy Carter (among many others). Keeping a girl in school is one way to ensure that she marries later -- when she is older and free to make her own choice. Girls who marry later have healthier families and are at lower risk of fistula and infant/maternal mortality. MGEF illustrates the many benefits of educating girls and delaying marriage by leading community workshops for girls, boys, women, and men. To learn even more about this program, check out our newly released video on YouTube!
On May 4th, MGEF held one of it's newest program initiatives, the Mothers and Elders Workshop, which brought together 44 men and 51 women from the Elangatawuas area of Kenya (check out the map below). Discussion topics included the harmful cultural practices, like female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage, that contribute to the low enrollment of Maasai girls in school and their high drop-out rate. Of the male participants, an astounding 100% thought that FGM and early marriage should end, as indicated by one attendee who explained, "...we are not seeing any value brought about by such activities." This as a huge step forward, and one that we hope will be replicated in the workshops to come.
So, what's ahead of us?
In July, we will be traveling to Kenya! Look forward to photos, interviews, and stories upon our return, and be sure to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates while we're there.
Thank you for being a part of our ever-growing community!
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