Dear Global Giving Friends,
Thank you for making our first year of fundraising on Global Giving a success. We have raised more than $5000 for the 200 Maasai girls who attend MCI's two schools. We are thankful for the platform Global Giving has provided for our online fundraising. However, because we are a small organization with minimal overhead, we have decided to consolidate efforts and focus on raising money directly without the help of a intermediary. Global Giving does great work, and we hope that we can partner with them again as the Maasai Children's Initiative grows. Your ongoing support is so important in helping the girls complete school and avoiding circumcision and early marriage. Educating a girl is the best investment you can make in the developing world. When you educate a girl, you educate a whole community.
We happy to report that our schools are thriving. The students at Mara Hills Academy, the boarding school, placed fifth out of 38 schools in their district on national test scores last summer, and the school's fifth graders earned the top spot for their grade level!
This summer, we worked with our partner, SEAVURIA, to train teachers how to teach inquiry-based science to students. This fall, teachers are applying what they learned in the classroom, with lessons in electricity, the solar system, water quality and the earth's rotation.
As part of the project, we are collaborating with the Vashon Island School District in Washington State, so that students from the two continents can work together, sharing data and analysis and develop meaningful connections that will inspire them to embrace diversity, create partnerships and believe they can and will make a difference. The cross-cultural exchange is based on a successful pilot project, established by SEAVURIA and still in progress with eight high schools in Seattle and eight schools in Kenya.
Our ultimate goal is to create a model K-12 science curriculum that other schools in Kenya – and possibly in other developing countries -- can use. The schools in Kenya are our testing grounds. With each school, we have set goals and metrics, and we will track our progress.
To learn more about our schools, please visit our website.
And again, thank you for your support!
Spring is bustling with activity at MCI's two schools. In March, we completed a new classroom building at Mara Hills Academy that houses 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Currently, the school only goes to 6th grade, but this new facility ensures that students will have the option to go through 8th grade.
This year our academic focus is on science. We are partnering with SEAVURIA, a Seattle-based non-profit committed to improving STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) education through global engagement, to lay the groundwork for a new science curriculum for MCI's two schools. Two of our teachers were inspired by a professional development training in Mombasa that was hosted by SEAVURIA. The training centered around a unit on water quality using Cascade Designs' SE200 water filter. Participating teachers used the SE200 to experiment and measure the chlorine requirements to clear bacteria from a variety of sources. They learned how to graph their data on Microsoft Excel, picked up instructional techniques for helping students solve problems and think analytically, and applied what they learned to their lesson plans. They also enjoyed two days at the Kenya Medical Research Institute(KEMRI) Wellcome Trust Research Programme, internationally known for its work on malaria and other infectious diseases.
Because the training was so valuable, we are now trying to find a way to bring Mary Margaret Welch, SEAVURIA’s executive director and long-time science educator, to the MCI schools to begin work on a K-6 science curriculum. The goal of the curriculum will be to teach students to think critically and ask questions using the scientific method, as opposed to learning primarily through memorization, which is how science is typically taught in Kenya. Ultimately, we hope to create a collaborative science program with a school in the United States so that students can share data and work together on global issues around health and poverty, similar to the model SEAVURIA has created between eight other schools in Kenya and Seattle.
On the fundraising front, MCI's Girls to Girls teenage volunteers program kicked off their new organization with a bake sale that raised $1000 for a playground at Mara Hills Academy. Girls to Girls is the brainchild of six 14-year-old girls from Vashon Island, Washington who are committed to raising money and corresponding by letters with the girls at MCI's two schools. Rita Olson, an MCI board member, is matching the money the girls made at the bake sale, which will allow playground construction to begin this summer. The playground will be built with local materials from Kenya. The girls are reserving some of their proceeds from the bake sale to buy Maasai jewelry to sell at Vashon's Strawberry Festival in July. They have not yet decided what they will do with the money they earn from the jewelry sales.
At the schools, the students are thriving. Mara Hills Academy netball team played in the Narok regional games in March, and four of our students went on to compete in the county-level games in April. Academically, the schools continue to have a reputation for being among the best in the Maasai Mara region.
In June, we will host two groups of visitors to the schools, four of whom are teenage girls from the U.S. who are looking forward to sharing and learning with the students at MCI's two schools. We'll send you an update on the trip in our next report in June.
Thank you for supporting MCI's schools
MCI’s Mara Hill’s Academy rang in the new year with the completion of Mandela Hall, a new dining facility that serves the school’s 150 students. Named in honor of former South Africa President, Nelson Mandela, the facility includes a kitchen and dining hall, as well as a stage for student productions. The dining hall has capacity for more students as the school grows.The next building project, slated for completion this spring, is a new classroom block for students entering 6th grade.
Mandela Hall and the new classroom block are the most recent in a series of construction projects at the academy, including a new dormitory and a 200-foot, solar-powered well , both of which were finished last fall. The well provides clean drinking water to academy students and the people who live in surrounding villages.
MCI's greatest need is tuition support. Most of the girls at Mara Hills Academy and Fred Baron day school need financial aid to attend school. Please consider starting the year with a recurring gift. For $50 a month, you could pay for one girl’s annual tuition at Mara Hill’s Academy, and for $17 a month, you could send a girl to the Fred Baron school for one year.
Sipasha Moriaso, is one of many girls at Mara Hills Academy who faces having to leave school unless she receives financial support. Sipasha is 13 years old and in grade 4. The first born of five, she is the only child in her family attending school. Boarding school is the only option since her family lives too far for her to walk to day school.
Naini Sitany is 13 years old and in grade 2. The fourth born of 10 children, she was preparing to be married in September 2011 when MCI rescued her and enrolled her at Mara Hills Academy. This is the first time she has ever attended school. Her father does not believe in female education. Like many Maasai men, he believes that at puberty a girl’s life should be inextricably linked to her home and her husband.
Can you help Sipasha, Naini and girls like them complete school? Your support will begin a circle of giving that will allow these girls to gain control over their own lives and ultimately help their communities.
Finally, please visit our website to read the articles that resulted from MCI Executive Director’s Sekeyian Yiaile’s visit to Seattle last November. There’s an excellent blog account from the Puget Sound Business Journal about Sekeyian’s own experience as a 13-year-old girl who refused to marry a much-older man and how it served as the catalyst to her founding MCI.
Again, thank you for your support. With your help, the girls at MCI’s schools can look forward to a brighter future.
I have just returned from Maasailand in Kenya. It was my first time seeing the Maasai Children's Iniative's (MCI) program, and I was very impressed; MCI’s two schools – Mara Hills Academy and the Fred Baron School – are solidly constructed and well maintained facilities that include bright and airy classrooms. At Mara Hills Academy, the boarding school, the dormitories are inviting, comfortable and colorful. The grounds at both schools are landscaped with shade trees and fields for playing football (what we call soccer in the U.S.). The schools could use playground equipment, something we will be fundraising for this winter.
The teachers at these schools are some of the most dedicated, intelligent and earnest people I’ve ever met. They all live at the schools. Since the roads in Maasailand are so bad and public transportation is scarce, they are only able to see their families once every three months when the schools go on break for holiday. They are making this sacrifice for their students because they believe education is the only way to improve the economic and political situation in Kenya. Several of them are pursuing higher degrees in education because they want to keep improving their teaching skills.
Sekeyian Yiaile, MCI’s executive director, is expeditiously expanding the program so that the students attending MCI’s schools will be able to graduate from high school with a nationally certified degree. Just 16 months ago, Mara Hills Academy opened to 100 students, ages 5-16. The students’ educational history varied, but none were past 5th grade. This January, several of them will move to grade 6. To accommodate them, we are now preparing to build a 6th-grade classroom, which will cost $10,000 to construct and furnish. Our plan is to add new classrooms as the students progress. The culmination will be at grade 12 when students can graduate with a national degree from high school.
While we were there, we dedicated a solar-powered fresh water well that will supply water to the students at Mara Hills Academy, as well as to the neighboring Maasai villages. Fresh water will save the school money spent of trucking hundreds of gallons of water in every week, and it will drastically lighten the workload of Maasai women who traditionally walk many miles every day to get fresh water for their families.
Overall life in Kenya is improving. It is a country on the brink of a new and brighter political and social era. Education is taking the country by storm, helping people take control over their own lives and gain a voice. The new constitution makes education available to all children. From Nairobi to Maasailand, the country is dotted with a plethora of public and private schools, some of which offer education to both adults and children. In fact, MCI’s teachers work overtime, teaching the rest of the staff (construction workers, cooks, security guards) English, Swahili and math.
I was inspired by my time in Kenya, and I look forward to travelling there again soon. By investing in MCI’s schools, you are sending the message that the world cares about the future of the people of Kenya.
Asante Sana (which means thank you in Swahili).
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