Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya

by Maasai Girls Education Fund
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
Returning MGEF Student Stops By The Office
Returning MGEF Student Stops By The Office

Dear Friends, 

Kenya opened all primary and secondary school grades the second week of January 2021.  MGEF was back to its normal business of getting supplies and school fees ready for the students as they stopped by the office on their way back to school. Of course, there were added precautions to keep such as masks and social distancing.  Fortunately, due to the mild climate, much of the activities could be done outside to help ensure the safety of our students and staff.  

MGEF’s roster this January has 133 students - 51 primary, 43 secondary, 35 post-secondary and 4 awaiting acceptance to higher institutions of learning.  

For primary and secondary students, January is usually the beginning of the school year in Kenya but school schedules have been greatly modified due to the pandemic and resulting school closures last March 2020.  The Kenyan government has implemented a two-year complicated plan to slowly get everyone back on track by January 2023, so each student’s schedule, depending on her grade level, will be a bit different than normal until that time.  

We are very proud of our post-secondary students, who adapted very well to virtual learning during the lockdown.  Despite the virus, we celebrated five graduations.  Three students received their Degrees and two who received Diplomas will return to school for their Degrees.  We also are proud of the seven recent secondary school graduates who, persisting through challenging logistics from the pandemic, applied and were accepted to post-secondary institutions.  They are now happy to be attending in-person as the campuses have opened throughout Kenya.

Over the past few months, Kenya has begun opening up and we have begun to see the repercussions of COVID19 and the lockdown.  MGEF-Kajiado’s Managing Director and our alumna intern were able to travel to visit some of our students who live in remote areas to better monitor their situations.  Many of our closer students have been able to visit the Kajiado office to check in and prepare for school.  The MGEF-Kajiado staff reported that early pregnancy is rampant all over the country because girls and boys have been socializing mainly without limits at their home villages since March.  Many of the old traditions also came back to life such as forced marriage and female genital cutting (FGC).  These observations are supported by recent reports noting a significant uptick in FGC, pregnancy and early marriage among Kenyan girls during school closures.  

MGEF has always been understanding of the cultural pressures Maasai girls face at home.   We do not judge and understand the pressures they face in the Maasai culture.  These girls grow up being told that they cannot say no to men’s advances.  With the students at home for months on end with no ongoing schooling and minimal structure, we knew our girls would face great pressures to succumb to old traditions.  Our stipends and continued contacts with students’ families were critical in raising the value of our students, ensuring they had food to eat, and helping to prevent forced marriage and early pregnancy.  But to our dismay, a few of our students, like hundreds of others across Kenya, did succumb.  

Yet, despite the long period of isolation and cultural pressures in their home villages, all but three of our more than 90 primary and secondary Scholarship students have restarted, or will be returning to, school this year.  One of these returning students was a young girl who we rescued from a forced marriage, a story we describe below.  We believe these numbers, while not perfect, are still far better than for other girls in the Maasai community.

An idea to combat food insecurity was brought front and center with the pandemic.  We are interested in developing a workshop to teach the Maasai community how to plant vegetable gardens on their land.  A few of our alumnae and staff are avid gardeners and their ability to supply their families with homegrown food from the garden was very important during this difficult year.  One of our alumnae had such a large crop that she has gone into a side business of selling tomatoes from her garden.  

As said above, one of our students was forcibly married off in her home village during the school closures.  Forced marriage is not that unusual in Maasai communities but for our Scholarship student, her outcome is not common - she was one of the lucky ones.  We will call her J, so as to keep her privacy.  J is from a very poor, polygamous family of 15 children. Her mother died when she was only 5, leaving her and 14 brothers and sisters to her father and his second wife.  When J’s mother passed away, however, her father disowned J and all her mother’s children, opting to support only those of his other wife.  J and her siblings spent years being passed around from relative to relative.  

J loved to learn, and one of her uncles helped her attend primary school.  He even paid for her first year of high school before one of her older brothers took her out to marry her off for a dowry.  Her uncle again intervened, but she was ultimately unable to continue her education for lack of school fees.  J was afraid to go home, though.  She knew she would be married off, so she sought refuge with an aunt who, luckily, had heard of MGEF.  

I happened to be in the office when J and her aunt came in to fill out an application.  J became a part of the MGEF family on the spot that day in July 2018, and she has done very well in her classes.  When I have seen her on my visits to Kenya, she is always friendly and helpful, and full of life and smiles. 

But in early December 2020, MGEF-Kajiado’s Managing Director, Ms. Ntayia was contacted by J’s aunt.  She had been married off while at home during the lockdown!  Our hearts sank, but Ms. Ntayia jumped into action.  With the help and support of J’s aunt and the MGEF board member from her local area, J’s forced marriage was annulled.  She returned to school immediately--just in time to sit for her exams.

Throughout Kajiado County, where MGEF operates, COVID19 has devastated the meager income that Maasai families survive on.  As a result, the MGEF-Kajiado staff have seen a significant surge of desperate girls and families in search of scholarships.  Often, we only have one chance to help these girls before they are forcibly married off and destined to a hard life of manual labor and poverty.  Beyond our usual eight new students accepted per year, we hope to add several additional scholarships to save girls facing the most desperate situations even though it is heart wrenching to choose with so many in need.  

All of our students are happy to be returning to school.  We thank all of you for your support during this difficult time.  It means a lot to our students to know there are people all over the world who support their efforts and root for their success.  

2021 Sponsorship Recipient
2021 Sponsorship Recipient
MGEF Scholar Graduates With A Degree In Commerce
MGEF Scholar Graduates With A Degree In Commerce
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MGEF Awards A New Scholarship To A Girl In Need
MGEF Awards A New Scholarship To A Girl In Need

Dear friends,

As the world continues to cope with COVID19, we are happy to report that as of this date, all of our students are safe, healthy and none forced into marriage.  With schools closed and young girls at home, this in itself is a success story that we gratefully celebrate every day.  

Due to the virus, MGEF held their Annual Fundraiser online this past July.  The fundraiser was dedicated to ensuring the survival of our students and their families during the COVID19 pandemic, as most families had lost any source of income and were struggling to put food on the table. Thanks to our supporters, we are now able to send monthly stipends to almost 100 of our students’ families through December 2020.  This stipend not only provides food for our students, but also creates a constant line of communication with our students and their families.  All of the families want to make sure that MGEF knows that they are taking very good care of our Scholarship recipients because our students have now become a lifeline of income for the family that they cannot afford to lose. 

Kenya, like other nations, is trying to slowly open up for business.  Their COVID19 case numbers have been low, but the government is still highly cautious and appropriately do not take this virus lightly.  The country’s primary and secondary schools initially planned to open in January 2021, and to simply repeat the entire school year even though Term 1 was already completed in 2020.  This had some parents and students unhappy, but in general this appeared to be an acceptable plan of action to the country.  Most Kenyans were on board and planning for a January start.

More recently, though, in mid-September, the Kenyan government changed course and decided to open the schools in a matter of weeks.  Teachers were to report back to their schools and await the arrival of students a couple weeks later.  Although safety preparations, sanitation guidelines or protocols were not formally provided to prepare for the return of the students, teachers packed up, left their family homes and headed back to schools.  Parents, teachers and students alike were completely surprised by this sudden announcement and waited in nervous and reluctant anticipation.  The decision for students to return to schools was then canceled at the end of September.  

A new press release was just issued October 6th, stating that certain grades should report to school on Monday, October 12th.   The plan has confused many and all wait to see if the government changes their minds once again.  Under the new plan, students directed to return are those who would have been promoted at the end of 2020 if school had been in session for the entire year.  This new directive affects students in primary Class 4, which graduates to Class 5 (5th grade) and switches to a grading system instead of pass/fail.  It also applies to Class 8 (8th grade), which graduates from primary to secondary school Form 1, and to Form 4 (high school senior), which graduates from secondary school.  The plan at the moment indicates that these students will start Term 2 now and Term 3 in January 2021.  They will sit for their exams in March 2021 and graduate at the end of what is usually Term 1 for the year.  The others will start in January 2021 as is the usual tradition and repeat the entire year. While there is much uncertainty about the country’s new plan, MGEF is prepared to help our students move forward safely under all scenarios.  We and our capable staff in Kajiado understand that these are uncertain times for everyone as the world tries to navigate through this disease.

Activities for our post-secondary students differ from those of primary and secondary school students.  Some of our post-secondary students’ schools were able to switch to online studies this fall (although a few others have decided to open up campuses soon since the latest press release). These students were in need of laptops in order to keep up with their studies and their academic standing in their schools.  If they were unable to participate in online classes, they might forfeit their position at their schools.  Thanks to the generosity of those sponsors who donated the balance of their 2020 sponsorships to the MGEF COVID19 Emergency Fund, we have been able to supply the laptops needed for our students continue their classes.  These laptops and the continuous support from all of you means so much to these aspiring Maasai women. In times of insecurity, it gives our girls hope and determination to know others are there for them no matter what obstacles they must face.

Due to the pandemic, MGEF-Kajiado staff and the MGEF-Kajiado Board Members (all Maasai women) are already seeing young girls, mothers, fathers and other family members coming to them desperate for aid.  They anticipate that this will only become more prevalent over time.  Many have lost, and will not be able to revive, their small businesses that they previously survived on.  They will not have the finances to send their daughters to school this January, and most likely will not be able to provide for them as well.  Therefore, some gains of the past decade are expected to regress, as many Maasai girls will face female genital cutting (FGC) and forced early marriage.  MGEF would like to help every girl in need, but at least we have secured funds in our MGEF COVID19 Emergency Fund to add a few extra students to our roster in 2021. 

It has been a difficult year around the world, but we are proud of our team on the ground in Kajiado - MGEF-Kajiado staff, Kenyan Board members, alumnae and, of course, our students.  They have faced these challenges head on and worked as a family to ensure all stay healthy and safe in order to return to school and continue with their dreams of an education.  Our team members have been in constant contact and supporting each other during this difficult time. We thank all of you for continuing to support our mission and the lives of these wonderful girls and young women as they change the world slowly, one step at a time with their accomplishments.

New Laptops Arrive For Online Classes
New Laptops Arrive For Online Classes
MGEF University Student Attending An Online Class
MGEF University Student Attending An Online Class
MGEF Student Learns to Sew During The Pandemic
MGEF Student Learns to Sew During The Pandemic
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MGEF Scholars Are Eager To Return To School
MGEF Scholars Are Eager To Return To School

Dear Friends,

MGEF started out 2020 by accepting seven new scholarship students, who were chosen by our new junior board members, all MGEF alumni, with input by the elder board members.  This brought our roster up to 136 active students – 48 primary, 46 secondary, 31 post-secondary and 11 students waiting for acceptance into institutions of higher learning.  

We were busy during the first two months of 2020 with the usual beginning of school tasks such as enrolling Form One secondary students in their new schools, making sure students had their supplies and transport to school, and addressing any issues new and old students may have had with their schools.  Then the COVID pandemic became a worldwide crisis.  Shortly after the first positive COVID case in the United States, Kenya had its first case, and like other countries around the world, everyday life in Kenya dramatically changed.  

Once schools were closed on March 16th, all of MGEF’s primary and secondary scholarship students dropped by the office on their way home, many confused, scared and uninformed.  The post-secondary students touched base by phone; though they were more aware of the situation, they were still scared and needed reassurance.  The staff immediately went into action, with instructions about how to help keep them and their families safe and well.  They addressed washing of hands, social distancing, masks (which were difficult to find and must be handmade), isolating at home to stay safe, and most importantly, staying away from boys which now is not just a matter of getting pregnant, but also a matter of life and death.  Many of the children had not even been told why they were being sent home and were in great need of explanations and reassurance.  

The staff also had to make sure that all rescue girls who could not go home (e.g., due to risk of family violence or forced marriage) were safely in place at the schools with rescue centers that MGEF has partnered with for many years.  Transportation and logistics for these rescue students were immediately dealt with.  Thanks to our MGEF-Kajiado staff, all of our girls made it home safely or are in secure rescue shelters.  

Now several months later, MGEF-Kajiado’s Managing Director, Lucy, and Program Director, Abigael, remain vigilant about keeping in contact with all of the scholarship students.  We are very happy to report that as of now, everyone is healthy though COVID cases in Kenya continue to rise.  Unfortunately, we have discovered that our students’ families are struggling to provide food for their families.  The meager living that they once survived on has been lost due to closures of markets.  They can no longer sell their milk, livestock or beads.  The girls, who are usually away at boarding school, have become an extra mouth to feed during an extremely tough time.  MGEF decided to send a stipend for food to our students’ families to help.  This will not only keep our girls fed but they will also become the only source of food for the entire family during the shutdown.  This will raise their value to the family and will deter any thoughts of the girls being married off before they are safely back in school.  

Kenya had originally hoped to reopen schools at the end of June, but they have decided it is too soon and made the announcement just last week that they would reopen schools in September.  We were relieved, for we feared it might be too soon with respect to COVID, but yet, at the same time, we know it is best for our girls to be in school where they are safe from forced female genital cutting  and early marriage.  

Another development from the pandemic has been the decision by many universities and colleges to switch to online learning.  This has enabled quite a few of our post-secondary students to continue their studies.  Though this has been a real challenge for most of our students because they live in rural areas where internet access is very limited.  A few girls who have smart phones have been able to access information so they can continue their studies without too much trouble. Others have had to borrow phones which is very unreliable.  Due to this situation, MGEF decided it was necessary to invest in some laptops for the students to borrow for their classes.

As we all navigate through this difficult time, MGEF hopes all are safe and well and would like to thank everyone for their generous support of MGEF.  I have received many notes from alumnae, students, board members and other friends in Kenya.  All send their love and are so thankful for all you have done for their community through the education of their daughters, sisters, mothers and aunts.  

 

Thank you

 

Heather

2020 MGEF Scholarship Recipient Joan
2020 MGEF Scholarship Recipient Joan
MGEF Alumni Help Mentor Maasai Girls During COVID
MGEF Alumni Help Mentor Maasai Girls During COVID
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MGEF Students Listening at Mentoring Workshop
MGEF Students Listening at Mentoring Workshop

Dear Friends,

What an incredible year it has been for the Maasai Girls Education Fund! December 2019 was full of celebrations of many new graduates from various stages of their education—six from post-secondary institutions, six from primary school, and twelve from secondary school.  Most of these scholars are the first young women in their families to achieve this.  Many, as young girls, only dreamed of this day, and now it has become reality.   

MGEF ended the year with 130 students on our roster, 49 primary, 47 secondary and 34 post-secondary students. MGEF now has 83 alumnae, with 73 of these young women completing post-secondary education!

Mentoring Workshop 2019

For the second year in a row, our Annual Mentoring Workshop was facilitated entirely by MGEF alumnae.  Our Alumnae sisterhood has made it their goal to invite all our graduates over the last 20 years to mentor our younger students, engaging our new graduates as well as our older alumnae, who are now well-established empowered women working throughout Kenya. As an example, Jane, a graduate from 2011 who is a dentist, spoke to our current students about what it takes to be a good leader, and the impact you can have not only on your own personal life but on others also. The mentoring workshop is a safe place for all to ask questions, solve issues, and bond with each other.  What makes MGEF special is the feeling of family that is encouraged among the staff, alumnae and current students.  There is no problem too great or small to bring forward for all to share.

MGEF was also fortunate at this year’s Mentoring Workshop to have our friend Chief Felix come and speak and encourage the girls to continue their academic journey.  Felix is a prominent chief in the Namanga division of Kajiado County.  Earlier this year he brought MGEF a young girl who was from his area that was unable to go to school due to lack of school fees.  He was so touched by our acceptance of this young woman and what MGEF does that he and his family donated five acres of land to MGEF.  In the future, we would like to utilize this great gift to establish a rural community outreach center and bring us even closer to those in need.  

Life Skills Workshops 2019

In 2019 MGEF received a grant to conduct 26 Life Skills Workshops (LSWs).  The Workshops were held in the Namanga Division of Kajiado County, and are conducted for Maasai girls and boys, as well as men and women, throughout Maasai communities in Kajiado County to address the social customs and cultural beliefs that prevent Maasai girls from getting an education.  They present information and teach participants about barriers to education among the Maasai, including traditional cultural practices such as female genital cutting (FGC), forced marriage and early pregnancy. To date, 16,273 Maasai girls, boys, women and men have attended MGEF’s Life Skills Workshops. 

The LSW’s truly give us insights into the landscape of what is happening in the heart of the Maasai people we serve in Kenya, and these insights help us craft our future plans to best fit Maasai girls’ needs.  We have discovered, for example, that there has been much progress in attitudes about girls’ education in Maasai communities nearer more urban areas, but affordability still remains an insurmountable obstacle to education for too many.  The further out into the bush we go, however, the more FGM and early marriage is practiced for tradition’s sake.  This is why our Life Skills Workshops are so critical, and underscores the need for increased rural outreach.

MGEF-Kajiado Kenyan Board is growing

MGEF-Kajiado has always had a Board of Directors, Maasai women that serve as advisors with all of our programs.  They play a crucial role in our selection process for new scholarships, and their approval is the first step to being accepted into MGEF.  When there is a girl in need of rescue or school fees, they go to the board member of their local division—an empowered educated Maasai woman from her local community—more often than not, a teacher. Once the board member meets with the applicant and helps them fill out an application, her application is forwarded to the MGEF Kajiado staff and, finally, the US Executive Director.  Until recently there has been only one board member from each division. The MGEF alumnae, however, decided that the best, most impactful way they could remain involved with and give back to MGEF was to start becoming board members themselves. This December the Kajiado Board revised its by-laws to include two board members per division and welcomed seven new MGEF alumnae as junior board members! Everyone is so excited to have them aboard.  They have many new and exciting ideas and are full of energy to get started.   

New Scholars

In Kenya, the school year starts in January.  Therefore, every January we try to add as many girls as we think we might be able to find sponsors for—this year we are picking up 8! Choosing new scholars is an exciting and rewarding experience, but also very difficult.  MGEF receives so many applications and daily visits at the office from desperate girls and their parents that it is impossible to accept them all, and we try very hard to find the most needy of the students among them, the girls who without our help would have absolutely no chance of going to school.  The new junior board members were very excited to become a part of this process, and worked closely with their senior board members to pick the recipients of the 2020 MGEF scholarships in their divisions.  

With the eight new girls added this January, MGEF started 2020 with 136 active students.  Our roster consists of 47 primary, 46 secondary, 32 post-secondary students, with 12 pending post-secondary awaiting acceptance to various institutions of higher education.  Most pending post-secondary students are busy taking computer classes to prepare themselves for their future academic pursuits.

On behalf of the Maasai Community and the Maasai Girls Education Fund, I would like to thank our many supporters, both individuals and foundations. Your generous support and commitment to Maasai Girls education is critical to our success and to the continued success of our students. 

 

With much gratitude,

Heather McKay

MGEF Alumna Facilitates Mentoring Workshop
MGEF Alumna Facilitates Mentoring Workshop
Discussion at the End of an Adult LSW
Discussion at the End of an Adult LSW
Chief Felix Speaks at the Annual Parent Meeting
Chief Felix Speaks at the Annual Parent Meeting
The Board Introduces Alumnae Junior Board Members
The Board Introduces Alumnae Junior Board Members
2020 MGEF Scholarship Recipient from Isinya
2020 MGEF Scholarship Recipient from Isinya
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MGEF Students Arrive for Term 3 Supplies
MGEF Students Arrive for Term 3 Supplies

Hello friends,

Back to School

As fall arrives, I wanted to share with you some of my adventures from my most recent trip to Kenya in early September. I strategically planned this visit so that I would be at the MGEF-Kajiado office in Kenya when all our scholarship students checked in to pick up their Term 3 school fees and supplies. For days, the office was abuzz with scholars of all ages. Everyone was excited to go back to school and finish up the last term of the school year. Many of the girls enthusiastically told me about their progress in school and their future dreams. Like students all over the world, as they progress through school, they learn more about their interests and strengths. It is such an honor and a delight for me to watch them identify careers that they are truly passionate about.

During my visit, a group of 19 students who all go to a local boarding school called AIC Primary, came to the MGEF-Kajiado office. AIC is a great friend to MGEF. It is not only a primary boarding school, but also a rescue center. Many of our students cannot go home during the holidays due to violence or threat of female genital cutting (FGC) and early forced marriage. AIC helps keep our MGEF students safe by allowing those enrolled at AIC, and some enrolled at other schools, to spend their holidays together as a family of MGEF sisters.    

Faith

When our scholarship students from AIC Primary School came to the MGEF-Kajiado office, a tall shy girl came along with them. She was dressed in well worn clothes and seemed frightened. After about an hour, a teacher arrived and spoke to Lucy, MGEF-Kajiado’s Managing Director. Lucy called me over to meet the 11 year old girl whose name was Faith. Faith had a story that truly touched my heart.  

Faith comes from a very poor polygamist family of 21 children and had never gone to school. She has 10 brothers and 10 sisters. Her mother is one of three wives and has three boys as well as Faith and her sister. Her younger brother was severely handicapped with cerebral palsy and Faith was assigned at an early age to take care of him. Her mother took Faith’s little brother to a rescue center that takes care of handicapped children. The rescue center is also a school, although Faith’s brother was not able to attend classes due to the severity of his illness. Faith’s mother sent her along to be his caretaker (but not to go to school). The first grade teacher at this school felt sorry for Faith and noticed she was interested to learn, so she would often sneak the bright little girl into her class. During the school year, Faith’s brother took a turn for the worse and sadly passed away.  After his passing, however, the first grade teacher refused to send her home because without the job of taking care of her brother, she knew Faith would be quickly married off. Faith’s presence, however, had to be hidden from the school principal who would send her home because no one was paying her school fees. With the help of a few other teachers, the first grade teacher bought Faith a school uniform and continued to sneak Faith into her class. To stay undiscovered during the school day, Faith could not go to breakfast, lunch or recess. The other children would combine their food and bring it to her for lunch and the teacher would bring her something from home for breakfast. The first grade teacher also got permission from AIC Primary School to allow Faith to sleep there at nights. After classes, Faith would sneak out and walk to AIC, about 0.5 km away, to spend the night.  While at AIC, Faith met our MGEF students. Upon learning that AIC’s MGEF students were coming to the office to get their supplies and also visit with the US Executive Director, the teacher arranged to bring Faith at the same time to tell us her story and fill out a scholarship application.

The first grade teacher emphasized to me and MGEF’s Managing Director that Faith is eager to learn and very bright. Upon hearing her story and reviewing her application, MGEF accepted Faith as our newest scholarship recipient. Faith’s eyes swelled with tears when she learned she would become an MGEF student. She hugged me and would not let go.  

Rescuing girls like Faith and giving them the opportunity to become educated and ultimately economically self-sufficient is truly what MGEF is about and why I love this job. Faith now attends AIC Primary as a regular boarding student and is all smiles. 

Chief Felix’s Donation

In early 2019, a young progressive Maasai chief named Felix from Namanga Division arrived at the MGEF-Kajaido office with a little girl named Vivian. Felix is a proponent of education for Maasai girls and boys. He had found Vivian herding a group of goats along the side of the road. He asked why she was not in school, since he knew she had attended and graduated from primary school. Vivian said that her parents could not afford secondary school fees. Vivian comes from a polygamist family with nine children. Her parents are not employed and cannot read or write. They rely on a few goats and sheep to survive.  

Felix went to meet with Vivian’s parents who told him that she did very well in school, but that they could barely put food on the table much less send her to secondary school. Felix had heard of MGEF and brought Vivian with him on the 1 ½ hour journey to the MGEF office. There he helped her fill out a scholarship application, after which MGEF accepted Vivian as a scholarship recipient. For the first time in years, she now goes to school without fear of being sent home due to lack of school fees. She is in Form 1 at Kimana Secondary School. 

Felix was so touched by MGEF’s response to Vivian’s plight that he went home to his family and spoke with them about our organization. He then returned to the office to inform us that his family has agreed to donate 5 acres of land to MGEF, in thanks for the work we do on behalf of Maasai girls and the broader community. Felix’s generosity and dedication to education is deeply admirable.  He embodies the positive change that is occurring among educated Maasai men and women as they work to further educate their community and help their community rise out of poverty.  

Visiting a Maasai Village

During the second week of my trip, Marilyn (one of our sponsors), her husband Scott and her friend Gloria came to see MGEF-Kajiado in action and to visit Marilyn’s student, Grace. What a wonderful group they were, eager to learn about the Maasai and experience this culture to the fullest in two days. As you can imagine, it was a busy two days.  

First our wonderful Maasai friend and supporter, Chief Felix, offered to take our guests to a boma , which is a Maasai family home that often consists of many family members and huts. For example, when a son gets married, he will bring his wife to the family boma and build a manyatta (a small hut) for them to live in and raise their family. The size of a boma can vary greatly as it depends on the number of sons who have chosen to stay and live a traditional life. This boma was in Felix’s ward of Namanga. He drove us along a winding dusty road far out into the country. It was beautiful, though very dry due to the drought. We stopped briefly at a trough fed by a water tower that the community had built for Maasai in the area to bring their cattle to drink, and met some Maasai herdsmen there.  At the nearby boma, we received a very warm and appreciative welcome for the small staples that we brought, such as sugar and flour. With pride, the family members showed us their individual manyattas (homes) and the enclosures where they keep their livestock at night. Though it was a short visit, our visitors got a true glimpse into their lives.  

After our visit to the boma, we drove to Felix’s house where we met his family and had lunch. Of course many of his neighbors joined us to meet the visitors from far away. They were just as fascinated with us and our culture as we were with theirs. Chief Felix is a well-educated man. When asked why he returned to his home area rather than choosing a more modern life in Nairobi, he replied that he loves his people and wants to retain his beautiful culture, while at the same time working to change some of the old traditions that are detrimental to the health and well-being of the Maasai community.  

Grace

The next day, our group visited Marilyn’s student, Grace, at her school. Though Grace is shy, Marilyn seemed to create an instant bond with her. We also visited Grace’s mother in her modest little home. She welcomed us with open arms and served hot tea as we chatted. She does not speak English, so all was translated by Lucy, though her gratitude needed no translation.  

Thank you

It is always amazing when I visit MGEF-Kajiado, to witness all of the successes and the determination of our wonderful scholars, and also the deep commitment of many Maasai, like Faith’s first grade teacher and Chief Felix, who give of themselves to help the Maasai community.  Added to this is the generosity of our sponsors, such as Gloria, who after hearing Faith’s story on the way to the boma is now sponsoring her education. Imagine that someone, who does not know them and who lives far away, can come into their lives and change their futures for the better.

Thank you so much for your support.

 Heather McKay

New MGEF Student Faith
New MGEF Student Faith
Chief Felix Presents Five Acres to MGEF
Chief Felix Presents Five Acres to MGEF
Visit to a Local Boma
Visit to a Local Boma
Grace Meets Her Sponsor
Grace Meets Her Sponsor
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Organization Information

Maasai Girls Education Fund

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Heather McKay
Executive Director
Washington, DC United States
$48,468 raised of $95,000 goal
 
415 donations
$46,532 to go
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Pay Bill: 891300
Account: GG9231

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