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