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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