Last August, all supporting teams’ leaders from the USA, Germany and Austria met together with the Kenyan team at Tareto Maa. This was the moment to get to know each other better and to make great progress so we all leapt at this rare opportunity.
Highlights of the time we spent with the children
We were incredibly happy to meet with the children who seem to be doing really well. We were hoping to take them on a safari but the weather conditions did not allow it. Instead we went hiking on the nearest mountain called Pirrar. It took us two hours to reach the top before we could enjoy the amazing panoramic view.
Sigfrid, the treasurer of the German team organised an athletic event including running, jumping and throwing. It was great fun!
We brought lots of new games and some music instruments for the children.
We also managed to repair the seesaw on the playground.
In exchange for dancing the Macarena with the children (see the video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1Kyz86HPmc), we had raised money which we spent buying fruit baskets for the children. We also cooked Mexican food for everyone and provided fresh popcorn one evening with a movie in the new dining hall.
Many of the older children jumped in to assist the younger ones with the letters they were writing to their respective sponsors.
New road map with a stepwise approach
There were many points on our agenda so we shared the work whenever we could. For instance, 10 children were sent to the city of Kisii for medical check-up.
We also met with another NGO representative and agreed to stay in contact as we are both serving the same cause of eradicating FGM.
We had reserved the last days of our visit to discuss about the current projects and tasks and to agree on what the priorities are for the future.
One of the greatest challenges is the rapid growth of Tareto Maa since the project started five years ago. Given the circumstances, we have managed extraordinary well until now. Fighting FGM and forced marriages remains our priority. There are also young orphans who have found a new home at Tareto Maa.
We are confident that many people are willing to support Tareto Maa, once they know about it. It is essential to continue promoting the project to recruit more sponsors.
Also, it is clear that the team in Kenya is doing a wonderful job. Just think about Helen, Sarah and Lilian who cook every day breakfast, lunch and dinner for so many children! Pastor Daniel, Joel, Tonje, David and many others are all contributing to the well-being of the children and the success of Tareto Maa.
We gained a much better understanding for the many challenges they face on a daily basis. We look forward to find adequate solutions to strengthen their situation.
The neighbouring community is still very enthusiastic about Tareto Maa and people have reaffirmed their support to the project. The idea that Tareto Maa can generate one day its own resources and gradually gain more independence from the help from abroad is not too far-fetched. The training centre which we spoke about in our previous report will start very soon with the sewing school. We also plan a vegetable garden and an orchard soon after.
Thank you for helping us promoting Tareto Maa and for your generous support!
Celebrations – Our first volunteer – Construction of the dining hall
Tareto Maa welcomed its first external volunteer: Nate Demers from Michigan. He arrived at Tareto Maa early in April, and the first thing he had to do was: to celebrate! On April 9, 2014, we celebrated Tareto Maa’s 5 Year Anniversary. Five years ago Gladys Kiranto started to shelter orphans from the local community and girls escaping FGM. In the beginning, 7 children were sheltered in the houses of Gladys and her family and friends. Five years later, the Tareto Maa Girls’ Refuge provides for the needs and the well-being of 106 children who have sought out our assistance.
To celebrate this anniversary, the Tareto Maa teams in the USA, Germany and Austria sent a thank-you letter and small personal presents for each team member in Kenya. The presents were manually recharging “dynamo flashlights” (a hot commodity in a village without power).
On the occasion of the anniversary, Philippe and Fynn from Austria started a charity run at the Vienna City Marathon. Thanks to many supporters’ contributions they raised around $2,500 which will be used to pay for the school fees of six girls.
After the anniversary celebrations, it was time for our first volunteer, Nate, to share his practical skills and to join some hard works. The construction of the dining hall started! This building is one of the major projects at Tareto Maa this year. We are happy and proud that this project successfully started, and after 3 months it is nearly completed now. At the moment, we are building the roof.
A current food crisis
While we mastered one challenge with building the dining hall, unfortunately another huge challenge emerged. It saddens us to report that the corn crops in the community of Kilgoris, Kenya were once again destroyed this season by a plant disease (a viral infection named “Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease”). After last year’s destruction, we thought we had the problem resolved via a harvest of a new breed of corn. Now, we see this was not a final solution. Tareto Maa leaders are reaching out to agricultural experts to gain insight on possible causes of this issue. Subsidiary farming is how we help mediate our expenses and losing our entire crop is a great loss. Due to the support of many people worldwide we were able to buy food for the children now to provide sufficient meals in the months to come. However, this food crisis is a severe setback for Tareto Maa, and any support to buy further food would be greatly appreciated.
Send us your pics – A Photobook of the Tareto Maa Community
We are creating a photobook to “introduce” the members of the Tareto Maa community to the girls of the Rescue Center. When the presidents of the Tareto Maa groups from the USA, Germany and Austria will meet in Kenya this August, they want to hand over the booklet to the children.
Please send pictures of yourself (at work, with your family, with your favorite pet, lounging at home or partaking in your favorite hobby) along with a brief description to email@example.com by Friday, July 22.
The year 2014 started with great news! During the “circumcision season” in December, no girls sought shelter at Tareto Maa to escape female genital mutilation (FGM). Though we do not know whether FGM in the area is completely eradicated, this evidence suggests a rapid decrease in the number of mutilations occurring in Kilgoris, Kenya. This is a huge success, and we are very positive that Tareto Maa has contributed to this important social change.
But there were even more good news. As many of the local families have abandoned FGM, Gladys Kiranto and the Pastor met with the families of 18 girls who were at the Tareto Maa Refuge. It was determined that those girls could now safely return home. Their parents have promised not to force mutilation or marriage. The Pastor will check in with the families to verify the girls are safe and continuing to attend school.
This is the first time that girls who had fled to Tareto Maa were able to return home. We are really happy for these girls and about this progress in general.
However, the work of Tareto Maa won’t stop here. We will continue in our pledge to aid the vulnerable children of Kilgoris. Most of all, there are many abandoned orphans who came to Tareto Maa and asked for shelter. To help these children is a pressing task.
Time to celebrate: Tareto Maa’s 5th anniversary
On April 9, 2009, Gladys Kiranto and some of her friends and relatives founded and registered Tareto Maa. That means: it’s time to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Tareto Maa!
We created a special “anniversary logo” which we will post during the month of April in honor of all people who supported Tareto Maa in the past 5 years.
Furthermore, we celebrated Tareto Maa’s anniversary with a charity run: at the Vienna half marathon! By this means we raised funds to sponsor the education of girls in the Tareto Maa Refuge. (See: www.tareto-maa.org/celebrating-our-anniversary-with-a-charity-run.) Besides, of course, we prepared personal presents for the team members in Kenya.
But there is another anniversary to be celebrated! One year ago, Jackie Adams joint our team and started to found the Tareto Maa group in the USA. In a very personal article, Jackie shared how deciding this has had an impact on her life: www.tareto-maa.org/one-year-later-changing-my-life-while-working-for-change/
(By the way, in honor of her efforts to help abolish FGM in Kilgoris Jackie was recognized in March 2014 as one of the top 25 Movers and Shakers under 35 in Northeast Ohio!)
Annual Report 2013, and our tasks for the months ahead
Tareto Maa has published its 2013 Annual Report which includes factual and financial information about all our projects and also a comprehensive photo timeline of this past year’s activities: www.tareto-maa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Tareto-Maa_Annual_Report-2013.pdf
Now it is time for us to look ahead and face the most important challenges for the next months. We now have 106 girls at the center and with more girls moving on to secondary education the costs are still increasing. Further challenges for 2014 will be to build a dining hall for the refuge and to establish a training and farming center. This training center shall improve the job prospects of the youth in the refuge and the community and shall help to increase food supply.
We would be happy if you accompany us on this path, and we appreciate your help.
In November 2013, an official Tareto Maa group was registered in Austria. The Austrian group will help to find financial support for the children of Tareto Maa and to raise awareness about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In addition to that, the group’s main goal is to extend and deepen the network with organisations and other partners.
Also the Tareto Maa group in the USA reached another important milestone: The required papers and documents for the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service of the United States federal government) have been completed in the beginning of this month.
A book about Tareto Maa
Tareto Maa has published a book! The book contains 44 pages with photos that Caroline Annandale took at Tareto Maa, and with the stories of the girls why they had to escape to our refuge. The girls themselves picked the name of the book: „Tumaini“. That’s Swahili and means „Hope“.
These are some short links to find the book in the Internet:
English edition (Amazon U.S.): http://amzn.to/17fmEpB
German edition (Amazon Germany): http://amzn.to/1dUD7Es
English edition (Amazon Europe): http://amzn.to/1hIInjH
The Tareto Maa Christmas Choir
In appreciation for all the generous support we’ve received over the past year, Tareto Maa proudly presented its very first Christmas Carol! This video stars a Japanese high school, U.S. families, a choir from Finland, an opera singer in Germany, Tareto Maa board members, lots of supporters, friends and relatives – and even a zebra and an elephant. Many thanks to all who participated in our global choir: http://youtu.be/xhc-GUcotuY
Some more news
We made an improvised eye test for the girls in the Tareto Maa Center. The girls who were having problems with their eyes were sent to an eye doctor in Kisii. Now 9 of the girls in the refuge are wearing glasses.
Members of the German business network BNI donated 1,700 euro for Tareto Maa (= 2,250 USD). Our project manager Rona and three of the children travelled to Nairobi, to receive the symbolic check and to talk with the donors.
A communications agency from Berlin has donated a rain water tank for Tareto Maa as a Christmas present. The tank is containing the rainwater from the roof of the dormitory. The water will be used as drinking water and for farming.
In August, Jackie Adams, the chairwoman of Tareto Maa USA, and Armin Erkens, chairman of the German group, visited the children at Tareto Maa. During their stay, they handed over several gifts and conducted some projects together with the kids.
Jackie published a personal travel report, including many photos of the trip: http://www.tareto-maa.org/my-first-visit-at-tareto-maa/
For instance, a Tareto Maa Library (with official office hours) was opened, as the Tareto Maa Center has received 50 pounds worth of children’s books from the U.S. now, including Dr. Seus and the Bernstein Bears. The girls love spending the afternoon gathering in groups to read aloud together.
The “Buffalo Bikes” which were funded by a donor from Germany and which are tailor-made for roads in rural Africa, also meant great fun for the children. They taught each other how to ride a bike. There were many small accidents and bleeding knees. But the girls just put some band-aid on it, and continued to cycle.
While Jackie and Armin were visiting, some movies were screened: with a projector that was donated by a European company and a white bedsheet on the wall. The girls‘ favorite movie was: Pipi Longstocking. :-)
Together with Jackie, the girls crocheted recycled plastic bags into change purses and made traditional Maasai bracelets (using the colors of the Tareto Maa logo). These items will be sold in the U.S. with half of the proceeds going to support the efforts of Tareto Maa and the other half benefiting a project of the girls’ choice.
During their stay in Kenya, Jackie and Armin also met many people in Nairobi and Transmara to talk about the development of Tareto Maa, and how to cooperate. These talks included the Kenyan Government (Ministry of Agriculture and the department that is in charge of fighting Female Genital Mutilation), the British DFID, the German GIZ, World Vision Kenya, the founder of the SupaMaasai Foundation, and the Kilgoris Project.
Together with the local team, Jackie and Armin also met the District Agricultural Officer in Kilgoris to talk about the current food crisis.
Food crisis: the corn disease has spread all over the country
The plant disease which is destroying the corn/maize harvest has spread all over Kenya by now. The Tareto Maa team is working on long-term solutions to improve food supply. However, the situation will be tough and challenging for the next 2 or 3 years (until resistant seeds might be available).
Tareto Maa successfully completed a fund-raiser to buy food for the next months. Many thanks to all people who supported this task!
In Jackie’s hometown, the regional newspaper, the News Tribune, published a series of articles about Tareto Maa and the work of the U.S. group. See, for instance:
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