Since we began our work in Kenya’s Loita Hills four years ago, we have been continually humbled by the way communities come together on behalf of their children time and again. Every accomplishment of our organization in this remote, rural region has truly been thanks to the effort of countless others. Each inch of progress has been powered by your generosity as well as by the grit, persistence and vision of our staff and interns and the headteachers, parents and leaders in the villages where we work.
Over the past year, we watched Mausa, one of the most isolated and struggling communities we work with, raise 1.5 million Kenya shillings –– the equivalent of $12,000 USD, an enormous amount for a rural village, to help build a secondary school amidst a severe drought. We also swelled with pride as three of our new Team Angaza interns –– Anne, Emily and Naserian, opened preschools in their villages. Each did so on their own initiative after observing the large numbers of children in their respective communities who were too small to safely walk 5-10 KM to the nearest government ECD (early childhood development center). We’ve been humbled after learning that many of these same interns and also our staff –– nearly all young mothers themselves –– often pay the school fees of other young girls in their villages when they see their own mothers struggling to feed them, all so they can stay in school.
One of the more beautiful aspects of Maasai culture is the high value placed on communal wellbeing, and the countless ways women help each other in the absence of an official social safety net. “As Maasai women, we have gone through many difficult things,” explains Christine Mpoe, our Intern Coordinator. “Our own struggles allow us to open [our] hearts and share to help others. When I see someone in trouble, my heart will not be in peace. They –– the girls we help –– will eventually be the light I wish to see in Maasai land. I am hoping that later, they will likewise help others.”
You can read more about the many inspiring ways that communities came together for each other and partnered with us to create change for girls in Kenya last year in our 2022 Annual Report, coming out at the end of this month. Our 2022 report, and all other past annual reports, can be found through this link.Thank you, as always, for being the generous engine that powers this work.
Last year you helped reconnect hundreds of students in remote Maasai communities to their education during COVID-school closures by funding an offline learning program that became a lifeline for them. You can learn more about the impact your support created through this program in our 2020 Annual Report.
In response to the overwhelmingly positive reception this emergency tablet program received last year and its potential to continue to enhance student learning in remote communities, we've chosen to integrate it into our regular programs in 2021. Currently we're piloting an expanded version using tablets and a R.A.C.H.E.L (Remote Area Communities Hotspot for Education and Learning) at a new secondary school we partnered with the community of Olmesutie to open earlier this year.
The Give Life-Changing Education to 500 Maasai Girls project was originally set up as a short-term emergency response program to COVID in June, 2020. Due to the integration of this work into our regular programs this year, we’re deactivating this separate GlobalGiving project at this time. Remote, tablet learning will continue to be funded through our other GlobalGiving project: Keep Maasai Girls Learning in Kenya, which funds all of our core programs.
If you haven’t previously donated to that project, and want to stay informed about our tablet and other program work in Kenya, you can sign up for quarterly emails at our website at forthegood.org/contact. Alternately, make your next donation to Keep Maasai Girls Learning in Kenya, which will ensure you continue to receive quarterly updates through GlobalGiving.
On behalf of hundreds of Maasai students in Kenya, we remain eternally grateful for your support last year.
In 2020, you helped reconnect hundreds of students in remote Maasai communities to their education during COVID-school closures by funding the launch of an offline learning program using tablets and an app called Kolibri. The program became a lifeline that kept young Maasai students connected to school and learning.
Initially, we used Kolibri to load students’ tablets with lessons that closely matched their Kenyan school curriculum. As COVID-school closures drew on, we decided to shift to provide content students wouldn’t normally see in the classroom to better leverage this unique access to technology. Ultimately, this decision became COVID’s silver lining in the region we serve, providing access to engaging interactive digital content and tech skills which teachers and students in the remote Loita Hills region have rarely, if ever, previously had access to. The lessons included STEAM content and literacy focused material such as novels based in East Africa, stories written in their mother language of Kimaa, interactive math and science lessons, and tutorials on word processing and spreadsheets.
Due to the overwhelmingly positive reception from teachers and students to the tablet program, it’s now our goal to continue and expand this new digital learning opportunity in our partner schools in the Loita Hills. Currently we are discussing potential ways to integrate tablet learning into the classrooms for the new 2021 school year, which starts in July, with several pilot schools. Our goal is to provide students with content that will continue to enhance their learning, expand their technical skills and offer them affirming stories of female and Maasai role models.
Asante (thank you) from the bottom of our hearts, for the support you’ve given, and continue to give, to support this work!
In June, 2020, you helped reconnect hundreds of students in remote Maasai communities to their education by funding the launch of an offline learning program, Kolibri, that allowed them to continue to study during COVID-necessitated school closures. We focused the program on Grade 8 students so that they could continue to prepare for the competitive national secondary school entrance exams they normally take at the end of the school year. The program became a lifeline that kept young Maasai students connected to school and learning.
Key Impacts of this Program over the summer and fall of 2020:
As students in Kenya return to their classrooms in January, 2021, we are returning to our core programs of enrolling children in primary schools, opening secondary school classrooms in partnership with parents and working with community leadership to advocate on behalf of education. While we grieve the lives, livelihoods and opportunities lost due to COVID, we are grateful for the opportunity it provided to work with communities in Kenya to explore paths we were too uncertain to explore before. Teachers in Loita now hope to continue using tablets in the classroom. Pre-COVID, their resources were often limited to a handful of dated textbooks. Through Kolibri, both teachers and students now have access to engaging, interactive, student-centered content for the first time in their lives. Our focus in 2021 is a return to our core programs while continuing to support this new digital learning opportunity for students and teachers. Our goal is to continue to curate content that will enhance and expand student learning while also empowering girls and affirming Maasai student’s cultural identities.
Asante (thank you) from the bottom of our hearts, for the support you’ve given, and continue to give, to support this work –– and the dreams of hundreds of hopeful young people in Kenya.
“Thank you, For the Good organization, I can now learn at home using the tablet and Kolibri!”
Maria spoke those words to us through our Maasai Programs Coordinator, Josephat Ole Mashati, but they really belong to you. Students like Maria who live in remote Maasai communities without access to electricity or internet have been unable to benefit from the Kenyan government’s intensive effort to get lessons to them through radio, TV and internet. You helped reconnect them to education by funding the launch of an offline learning program that’s allowing them to continue to study during COVID-necessitated school closures. For Maria and over 300 other students, this program has been a lifeline keeping them connected to school. And it couldn’t have happened without your support.
COVID’s impact has been felt by us all. Globally, families in poor, rural communities have been hit particularly hard. In Kenya, the loss of tourism in these regions has devastated people’s means of livelihood. As is true in most humanitarian crisis, COVID has also heightened existent vulnerabilities for girls. Families faced with increased uncertainty and insecurity feel increasing pressure to marry off under-age daughters when they perceive that education is no longer a viable pathway for them. Pressures on girls to engage in transactional sex for necessities and economic survival increase. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that as schools have shuttered around the world, including in Kenya, teenage pregnancies are spiking. This results in significant risks to girls’ health: Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for 15–19-year-old girls globally. It also deeply impacts their education and futures: in a recent study, 98% of pregnant teenage girls from nine Kenyan counties were no longer in school.
Keeping girls in school during COVID is critical to their health and safety. As we write this, For the Good staff in Kenya are now heading out on foot and by motobike to load the third month of curriculum onto the tablets of hundreds of students. We are also working with teachers in neighboring districts to connect them to our offline learning program so that hundreds more students can stay engaged with school. Our goal is to prevent widening inequality gaps created by the pandemic and to do our best to keep girls safe and their future dreams alive.
Asante (thank you) from the bottom of our hearts, for the support you’ve given, and continue to give, to create a better world for girls. We'd like to end this update by sharing some words from Gedion Koiye, the Head District School Officer in the Loita Hills region of Kenya where we work. Like Maria's thank you, we feel they truly belong to you."I must sincerely thank you for coming up with this program allowing students to continue learning at home. From the start it must have looked like a dream –– but now it has become a reality in our villages. Your staff (Programs Coordinator Josephat Mashati) risked his life crisscrossing the whole of Loita instead of staying at home during this time to make sure that every child in Loita gets the content, traveling through odd hours to beat the curfews and through bad weather when it was raining across our bad roads. The entire Loita leadership and parents can proudly say we now have a caring partner helping us... for the Good".
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